Thursday 21st May
Well, philosophy, what can we say? Rather a lot actually; more has possibly been written about philosophy than about anything else – and yet does it mean anything? Without quite realizing it I have been fascinated by philosophy all my life; maybe not articulating it as such and never formally studying it but certainly always interested by exactly what makes us humans, well human actually.
Strangely for such a far-reaching and all encompassing subject it is not taught in schools, and one wonders philosophically just why that is. As parents we probably subconsciously and maybe consciously too to a degree do try to instill our beliefs or at least our world view on our children. My upbringing was very much based on Christianity, or the morality of Christianity – do unto others, love thy neighbor etc: but no real philosophy. Hardly surprising when so much time was taken up with earning enough money to get by; and this must be true for the vast majority of mankind. So is philosophy just a subject for lazy academics, chewing the cud and arguing over semantics, or does it really matter? I suspect the latter, and of course the fewer of us asking questions such as ‘What constitutes happiness?’ or ‘What value an individual life compared to the interests of the majority?’ or ‘Whether the State or the Individual should be the arbiter of life itself?’ then the more opportunity there is for some in a position of power to impose their philosophy on others.
But like Politics and Religion, Philosophy itself is more often than not shunned by most people. It is something they do not want to think about, or thinking about it, share those thoughts with others. But actually I find that if you actually talk to people and draw them out they have often considered things in a philosophical and mostly private way. So, what use is Philosophy? The attempt to understand the way we think, the things we value, the way we want to live our lives? In some ways it is a bit like Art; it serves no practical purpose, has no intrinsic value but it does move us, it does enrich our lives immensely, even if we all have different opinions about it – and the world would be a much diminished place without it.