Stephen Hawking boldly pronounced that “philosophy is dead.”
Of course, as philosophers, we should examine what precisely Stephen Hawking means by such a claim, for philosophers themselves have been making similar kinds of pronouncements since Kant. Maybe Hawking means something analogous to the “The Death of Painting,” or maybe he means something like the what the “Death of God” theologians said about the essence of Christian thought. Alas, Hawking’s claim is not so nuanced. In the end, he means simply to say that philosophy has not kept up with the sciences, and is therefore no long relevant in its search for truth.
For a critique of Hawking’s claim, see the piece in Al-Jazeera “Which Philosophy is Dead?”
A brief excerpt:
“Philosophers,” Stephen Hawking says, “have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.”
According to Hawking, the conversation about the truth of the world rests in the hands of elite physics professors funded by multinational corporations and national governments. Should we believe this pronouncement just because it comes from an eminence such as Hawking? Could it be that some categorical mistake has been committed by the likes of Hawking who, in our opinion, mistakes philosophy for theology?
The debate over the death of philosophy begun by Hawking not only rests on wrong premises, but also searches for an inadequate solution. First, philosophy is still taught in universities, and second, philosophers continue to write books that disagree on the meaning of our existential relation with the world. We submit that a more precise question needs to be addressed: Which philosophy is dead?”