I would like to speak to the issue of philosophy as an emotional exercise as opposed to philosophy as an intellectual one. I think immediately what comes to a lot of peoples minds when mentioning philosophy is categorical imperatives, logical fallacies, and taking five more sentences than is necessary to say something quite simple. Granted, there is a time and place for all of these things. Language is so complicated and easily misconstrued. We can misunderstand our definitions of things quite easily so sometimes it does become very necessary to over explain what we’re talking about so that all our i’s are dotted and all our t’s are crossed. But I’ve had my mind more on the idea of philosophy as a therapeutic practice lately, and not so much as an explanatory practice.
I think we get into a lot of personal insight here on FlashPhilosophers. Are we just two dudes that use big words to talk about how we worked through our problems? And if so, what’s wrong with that? The answer is: nothing. Philosophy is about truth, and if we don’t see how truth is immediately applicable to our personal lives and our various struggles, then we lose sight of why it’s such a good mental practice. I am uncomfortable even defining it as a practice. I understand philosophy has certain academic connotations when we think about it as a study. But, really, philosophy is making effort to think well, and thinking well is tantamount to psychological well being, homeostasis…however you want to term it.
Most studies are now in their various silos, and I feel the raw human aspect to them is often forgotten. Why do we study economics? Why do we study psychology? Why do we study biology? Well, at the risk of sounding cynical, we silo these things off because they can be profited off of. Specialization is necessary, but professionalizing it and obscuring it is in the interest of the bottom line.
Philosophy, if brought down from its ivory towers and applied more directly to our human experience, will allow us to understand why the various things we study are of value, and not in the monetary sense. The enlightenment helped shake up the establishment. And again now we are disconnected, our institutions give us very little hope that they have our best interest at heart. I see a new establishment that requires some shaking. This iconoclasm, this dissension, has always been important.
So bringing this back around to the thoughts we’ve shared here. It is my hope that our correspondence sparks new ideas and allows us to make connections we may otherwise have not thought of. Relating that to our life’s experience hopefully allows any readers who wander through to see how loose, but intellectual discourse can be of relevance to simple daily struggles.
Is it about the meaning of life or the possible existence of deity? Sometimes, but it’s also about sorting through why getting my foot caught in my pant leg could lead to such existential angst; why seeing how my cat gazes out the window prompts me to ponder the importance of simplicity and small comforts. How can we make thinking well (philosophy) be less about proving points and more about understanding ourselves.
Until next time, Dude
I understand your frustrations about humans needing to separate different philosophies of understanding. The truth is they aren’t mutually exclusive from one another, as you well know. If you look at chemistry, biology, and physics, for example, the three very well could have been been divided up differently in their earliest stages had things gone differently, which is telling of how closely related they all are. But there are legitimate reasons for separating these schools of thought beyond the less-sincere motive of “profitability”. The world is such a complex system of inexplicable, intricately interweaving conscious and subconscious drives, that there is no way for the typical human mind to properly comprehend the world as a whole without first separating these schools of philosophy/science, and making them more comprehensible on an individual level. Once this happens, the effects we determine they have on one another will continue to become more cohesive, more honest, and more salient as well.
I would recommend reading Alan Watt’s “The Book”. A good portion of his writing is focused on the human inability to experience things as a whole. Specifically how humans depend on sight and hearing and other senses, and rely on them for truth, when really our sight and hearing and senses are only capable of providing a small portion of reality. When we become too dependent on these limited sense abilities (or inabilities), we expose ourselves to seeing falsehoods as truth. Watts discusses the human mind’s need to distinguish between cause and effect. He does a phenomenal job explaining how humans are largely incapable of understanding the two ideas as one unified concept. In an ideal world, cause and effect might be naturally understood as one, similar to how we might be able to understand all sciences and philosophies as one unified concept, but we do not live in an ideal…. our ability to understand is finite and the cohesion of ideas is not preternatural for most.
Like the concept of time, most people require linearity to understand the dimensions of life. Ask yourself this: would the people who claim to understand time non-linearly be able to do so without Einstein’s theory of relativity, which very well may not have come to be if it were not for his devout focus on the field of theoretical physics? How would we understand economics or biology or anything else that has heavily relied on brilliant people devoting their lives to these specialized fields of study? Is it not because of these niche thinker, that we have a greater understanding of the true nature of reality? Is it not these thinkers who are responsible for our current ideas of what is and isn’t common sense? Common sense isn’t simply common, common sense is the long and unending process of eliminating falsehoods that were once treated as truths…. the world is no longer flat! It is unlikely that the way you and I and the people around us view the world, would be as intellectually advanced as it is now without what has given to us by these purveyors of knowledge.
In my opinion, it is important that we integrate our understandings over time. But it is pertinent that we do so only after an individual contains a solid, fundamental understanding of these various fields of study. Linking complex things together through intuition, rather than through investigation, is how we become fallible… and, because human minds are finite, I do believe we would be more vulnerable to fallibility by expecting young and unlearned people to understand so much all at once…. the cohesion will forge itself.
Can philosophy be applied to emotional understanding? But of course it can be, in fact, that is a primary reason for philosophy. We understand the world intellectually and rationally — through different silos — in order to better understand and hopefully develop upon our irrational human nature. Don’t feel anguish from this sectioning off of studies, instead be grateful for what they have to offer us. But at the same time, don’t stand for the profiteers who abuse these silos by obscuring the knowledge and language so that they can make a little more money off of it.
With appreciation, Ponderer
I’m trying to find the unifying point between my conversation starter and your response. You honed in on why sectioning off methods of study are necessary. I voiced my frustration about how that has led to people profiting off of the specialization and professionalization of knowledge. But I brought this up mostly to demonstrate how far away from raw humanity philosophy and critical thinking have become in the public discourse. I see them as integral tools for achieving mindfulness and “inner peace”. However, the ivory tower industry wants to obscure these tools so they can make people pay for it. This has resulted in people basically turning to false forms of intellectual satisfaction, going to the places where what appears to be knowledge is less expensive or even free. Obsession with self help, conspiratorial ideologies, and other anti-intellectual outlets have provided people with a superficial form of certainty. That is why I’ve had this idea of street philosophy on my mind. And that is one of the hopes I have in blogging with you here. Make philosophy something that regular people just talk about (instead of clamoring over Oprah, Doc Oz and Deepak Chopra). Make it vibrant and interesting and more widely available, because the way that ideology and false hope are being branded nowadays, it’s far more attractive to the common person. We need to enjoy thinking well, because, in my opinion, unless you are getting at the real truth of things, you are not actually getting hope.. you’re getting a counterfeit.
Peace out, Dude