Academic Disciplines Are Philosophy at Their Core

6 June 2016

“All academic disciplines are philosophy at their core”; this proposition has many connotations. One meaning would be that academic disciplines are developed from ones thought process. Another is that both syntactical structure and substantive structure of knowledge are based on philosophy; syntactical structure of a discipline refers to the kinds of evidence, the techniques used to collect data, the interpretation of data and other processes of inquiry important in a discipline. Conceptual or substantive structure deals with the concepts, principles, themes, generalization, and other construct that guide inquiry (John U Michael, Ruth H Grossman, Lloyd F Scott: 1967).

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I take the second connotation and argue in favor of it. Before the advent of modern science and extensive use of scientific method as a mode of inquiry in academic disciplines development deductive logic was mostly applied as a mode of inquiry in both social and physical sciences; in this case intellect or reason has greater role to play in developing academic disciplines; In the modern era both physical and social sciences apply scientific method as a dominant way of inquiry and thus chief source of knowledge.

It does not mean that philosophy has disappeared from the scene. In scientific method problem is identified, hypothesis/es are framed, data are gathered and data are interpreted and analyzed; when hypotheses are formulated intellectual process is involved; the selection of appropriate method of research to gather facts is also involved thinking process; also the process of arranging data into meaningful form can not be carried out without applying rational process; when one enters in the stage of interpreting and analyzing data and drawing conclusions about hypotheses the thought process is in full swing. To conclude one can say that philosophy lies in the core of academic disciplines.

As far as the substantive or Conceptual structure of academic disciplines is concerned here also philosophy is at full swing. The decisions to make contents part of an academic discipline is rational process; I mean that which concepts, theories, laws and principles be included or discussed in, say , physics or chemistry or economics, are not based on trial or error method but it is totally a logical or rational exercise.

The process of sequencing and organizing contents in an academic discipline is also a logical process; the process of adding new contents and enriching academic disciplines with the development of new concepts, laws and theories as a result of new research is also involved rational exercise. The relationship of different units or concepts within an academic discipline is also logical or rational (Taba Helda, 1963; Murray Print, 1993).

The organization of academic disciplines into different categories and establishing their relationship with each other is also a rational process (John U Michael, Ruth H Grossman, Lloyd F Scott: 1967).

In applied sciences, such as, engineering, medicine, business administration, economics, etc., theory is put into practice; in identifying problems and applying appropriate or relevant theory the thought process or rational thinking is in full play.

Thus we can say that substantive structure of academic disciplines is also based fully on philosophy.

From the above discussion I can safely conclude that academic disciplines are philosophy at their core.

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