The death of Philosophy: A response to Stephen Hawking

  • CD Scott


In his 2010 work, The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking, argues that ‘… philosophy is dead’ (2010: 5). While not a Philosopher, Hawking provides strong argument for his thesis, principally that philosophers have not taken science sufficiently seriously and so Philosophy is no longer relevant to knowledge claims. In this paper, Hawking’s claim is appraised and critiqued, becoming a meta-philosophical discussion. It is argued that Philosophy is dead, in some sense, due to particular philosophers having embarked on an intellectual path no longer in keeping with the ancient definition of Philosophy. Philosophy as the seeking of wisdom necessarily includes the consideration of findings of other intellectual pursuits, including physical and natural science. While Philosophy has justifiably evolved through its long history, is it unrecognisable in the terms by which it historically defined itself? Seeking consistency, Hawking is critiqued for appearing to practise ‘dead’ Philosophy. Indeed, Hawking’s appeal to multiverse theory and his core discussion of the metaphysical problem of being are philosophical. The question of the death of Philosophy has contemporary relevance for the discipline which is particularly under threat for its survival in the academy, oftentimes assumed to be irrelevant.

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eISSN: 0258-0136