On April 9 2005, during a conference at the Sorbonne whose theme
was "What is philosophy?" Luc Ferry defined it as soteriology, i.e. "a
salvation doctrine," meaning a complete set of answers to the great
existential questions: What is the meaning of life since we are all
mortal? How can we "save ourselves" - not by escaping death, since
it is ineluctable, but by living in the most satisfying way, for however
long we have.
And, therefore, what is that satisfying way and how can we find it?
In that sense, philosophy is in competition with - or even an
adversary of - the great religions, since it invites us to find the answer
to that existential question for ourselves instead of accepting the
teachings of religious authorities. Luc Ferry posits that schools of
philosophy become fuller and more complete when they distance
themselves from God. The more atheistic a philosophy is, the better
it corresponds to the definition of philosophy.
Although in that case, it has been deliberately amputated of one angle
of thought. Philosophy, therefore, is more than just critical thinking,
because science, for instance, requires that too. Nor is philosophy
simply attractive rhetoric. It truly is the search for wisdom.