Friday, November 26, 2010

Reason to Philosophize

Let me first begin by making the case against philosophy quite clear. I don’t immerse myself in philosophical circles; I don’t hang around fellow philosophers or make a whole lot of social relations with philosophers. So I’m well aware of the way that we’re perceived among non-philosophers. They see our crazy theories (philosophers are probably proportionally more likely to believe that the world doesn’t exist), they listen to our tedious nit picking (the distinction between the existence of free will and the believing perception of free will is practically trivial) and they endure our rambling arguments (the last time I had a philosophical discussion that stayed on topic was on the 12th of Never).

And in the end, what have they endured for? Not an answer, certainly. It’s the rare philosopher who feels like he can come up with an answer, and it’s a rarer philosopher still who gets many people to believe his answer. The basic philosophy courses I took followed this standard model: we’d read the works of the greatest philosophers of all Western History, then we’d spend a week explaining in thorough detail why they were wrong. It’s almost like those Tibetan sand drawings: the monks spend months meticulously creating them for the sole purpose of brushing them away in the space of a few seconds.

So for most people, philosophy appears to be an abstract process for discussing bullshit, with no tangible end in sight the majority of the time. Even assuming that some people can come up with really useful philosophical ideas, like advocating empiricism and thus leading to the development of science, most of us are just wankers, right?