I know nothing. But I want to know. And I want to instill this paradigm in my students.
If I have faith in anything, it is in the validity of conditional statements: if this is true, then that is true. But the conditional statement, too, should be examined and questioned.
I also have faith in the power of critically reading difficult texts, writing, and discussion, in the cultivation of a broad, sharp, and developed mind. This too should be examined and questioned.
But to be a philosopher is to retain faith in these, even while they are doubted.
I will take no positions and advocate no beliefs beyond this.
I will pursue knowledge. I will investigate what my students believe, and work with them to discover the logical conclusions of those beliefs. I will assist my students in their pursuit of knowledge.
I will not accept or reject any of their conclusions, no matter how lovely or repulsive, no matter how right or wrong they seem to me–so long as they pursue them calmly and reflectively with the goal of knowledge and good judgment in mind. I will only make judgments on whether their conclusions follow from their premises, whether they follow necessarily or probably, whether they have been honest with the validity or strength of their conclusions, and whether their starting point began with a critical questioning of their initial positions.
This is my philosophy teacher’s oath. And it too should be questioned.