A story teller is focused on the stories, a historian is focused on the true stories, a philosopher is focused on discussing how do we know those stories. Thus, philosophy is more of an activity than a body of writing. Moreover, all activities change throughout time and philosophy has different analogies for its changing outlook.
Philosophers handle knowledge just like a plumber handles the waterworks or the mason handles the building of a wall. Apart from these two analogies, as a human; the philosopher sees the big picture, in this way he is able to sneak through the picture makers, the narrators or the creators of the human life. An analyser of analysers, we may call it the meta, hyper personality among people.
It all started as an objection to story tellers of ancient times, aka. myth makers. “Myth” was being presented as certain knowledge and people named as philosophers started to question the hearsay. They proposed logos, word; discussing such concepts and stories instead of relying on spoken word. We had our own intellect to sort things out, the narrative may be wrong. The first philosophers have started as natural philosophers, in this they have put natural elements as origins of life instead of anthropomorphic gods. Thales suggested water, Anaximenes air, Heraclitus fire, and so on with the alternative explanation for the discussion of “arche”. The first problem of philosophy was “arche, the beginning” how the universe began, not because this is the main problem but to position themselves against the myth makers, to say that not gods but natural elements were the beginning.
Philosophers discuss knowledge, and especially conceptual knowledge. They’re the leading figures for conceptual analysis. In this they’re the advance guards of knowledge through opening discussion about what is being known. Many things may have changed in the discourse and the outlook but they’ve always been the debaters of concepts since the beginning. For example for two thousand years, science was philosophy; there wasn’t a word for science. Than sciences emerged in the 18th century, what is measurable has been transferred to those fields such as chemistry, physics, biology. Consequently, “what does a philosopher do” has different answers depending on the context, especially the time. In the contemporary times, we can say that knowledge that can be measured has been transferred to sciences and fundamental, unsolved problems remained to the field of philosophy. Fundamental problems manifest themselves as conceptual problems and philosophers analyze the concepts nowadays.
Analogies for philosophers
Philosophers are usually likened to map makers. Map making is theoretical speculation, The tool, compass is the “concept”. In fact ancient philosopher Anaximander was one of the earliest map maker who drew the map of the world and presented it to the captains as critics of what he did. Moreover, the usual saying “the map is not the territory” shows us that there is never a static discourse in philosophy as all maps are wrong. Map is just a representation just like speech is a representation of what we think. Again, “reality is not words,” It’s a lot complex and unknown than this.
Philosophers a are likened to a plumber, a designer of pipes for thinking. The supply of knowledge and how it’s healthily delivered. Basic behavior of a philosopher is detecting a fault in the reasoning, a troubleshooter for reasoning pipes of humanity. The philosophical activity is constant, although the pipes and the constructs are not. All pipes break over time, they have to be replaced. All fittings become obsolete, they need to be redesigned. Sometimes whole paradigm, the whole building and the neighborhood needs to be reconstructed. Humanity in this conceptual neighborhood, needs a healthy piping through philosophers.
Philosopher are like mediators: They don’t choose sides but reflect on each side with contrasting opinions. That’s because all opinions are like different observers of a building. They all look at the different sides of a building and insist that their side is the correct version of the building. The philosopher usually brings the views altogether and sees the big picture.
An archetype of philosopher, Socrates was likened to a gadfly, due to his disruptive attitude to politicians just like a gadfly disrupts a horse, but enable the horse to move to its avail.
Socrates likened philosophers as owls because of the sharp vision and ability to see in the dark. Owls are brilliant observers and they can turn their heads 270 degrees, unlike any other birds. To see is the greatest problem, to catch swiftly is another. Owls are masters of both. Owls are recognizable international symbols of philosophy.
Both detectives and philosophers use extended reasoning processes. They’re the ones that are left with unsolved mysteries. They’re actually only people who sees opportunity in unfortunate, unsolvable cases. Persistency, skepticism, cunning are also similar traits.
Doctors provide the remedy of body, philosophers provide the remedy of knowledge. They’re both artists in this sense, they work for the human good. Doctors can’t betray humanity under any circumstance, and a philosopher also can’t betray human dignity and reason for his own sake. That makes him a philosopher, not a simple thinker.
There are many more analogies for philosophers, such as architects. Philosopher doesn’t build the concrete building but designs it in the background. Cats are a different liking, due to their curiosity; wondering around everywhere. Eagles, as being ferocious in terms of knowledge. Economists as having theoretical foundations not the tangible goods. Mathematicians as being too ideal, and for that being always right.
There are also concepts likened to philosophy which are first ideals and thoughts; that does not reside in the tangible external reality. Exploring, not settling, as they constantly venture into different investigations. And lastly, advance guards of armies; as they’re always far out from the society.