It is an embarrassing situation, when being asked about his/her profession, the answer to be given is "philosopher" or even "lecturer of Philosophy." The problem does not so much reside in the fact that the interlocutor will not know in which section of knowledge or technology to categorize such an answer, but in the fact that, probably, the philosopher himself/herself does not know either. A philosopher is, of course, a person whose task is to think, but this is also a characteristic of Ramón y Cajal, Einstein, Gauss..., people who nobody (at least to begin with) qualifies as "philosophers." The embarrassment of the philosophy professional will be further accentuated by the suspicion of what, confronted with this answer, the interlocutor will begin to conjecture. Well, if there was a poll in the streets about the subject, the great majority of the interviewees would elaborate an opinion such as: "Philosophers are people who talk about matters that only are only of interest to them, and in a jargon that only they (in the best of cases) understand."
It is difficult for the philosopher to convince (both the other and himself/herself) that this view is a crude caricature and that, in reality, a philosopher is exclusively he/she who speaks of matters that concern everyone and he/she does it in terms that are, for starters, elementary and that only reach their inevitable complexity by respecting that absolute requirement of transparency that comes emblematically associated with the name Descartes.
To say that a philosopher speaks exclusively of matters that concern everyone, to say that if some matter does not comply with this requirement, it cannot be philosophical, is to bring closer the philosophical query to those elementary questions that the human being raises as a mere corollary of a sort of innate tendency. A tendency that, of course, we observe in children and that counts among its ingredients with which a contemporary thinker has called ‘language instinct.' Language reaches maturity by exploring different paths, naturally that questioning path is one of them, and the designative word for the situation of stupor that leads to question is precisely philosophy.
Translated by Susana Badiola
Authors > Víctor Gómez Pin
Born in Barcelona and moved to Paris at an early age, where he studied Philosophy. He obtained the degree of Docteur d'état from the Sorbonne with a thesis about the Aristotelian order. After years of teaching in Dijon and Paris, he obtained professorship at the University of País Vasco with a research project about the philosophical aspects of differential calculus. He is currently professor at the Universidad Autónoma of Barcelona, where he has been teaching Theory of Knowledge and Introduction to Mathematical Thinking.
Víctor Gómez Pin has worked in a research project focused on establishing the state of the question on Greek philosophical fundamental queries from the viewpoint of contemporary reflection. This led him to establish the International Ontology Congress / Congreso Internacional de Ontología in 1993, to whose scientific committee belong prominent figures of contemporary science and creativity (among them many Nobel prize recipients). The UNESCO has sponsored the majority of these meetings. Víctor Gómez Pin is also Vice-President of the Iberian Greek Philosophy Society and member of many other philosophic-scientific societies.
Víctor Gómez Pin has also dedicated part of his research to relationships between the scientific-philosophical work and the artistic-literary work, which has allowed him to collaborate in many occasions with artists, writers of different styles and composers (he co-directs with Tomás Marco the meeting Música- Filosofía that takes place every year at the city of Ronda).
He is author of some thirty books, and has received, among others, the following prizes Anagrama de Ensayo (1989) and Espasa de Ensayo (2006). In September 2009 the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti awarded him the prize "Premio Internazionale per Venezia."