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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl; omnivore

Of course there are philosophers and then there are philosophers. Some are engaged in trying to explain or identify truth, and these are the greats, there are the ones who even after a hundred generations we can still read with profit, because the questions are still current, even with all of the water under the bridge since then.

To read these guys, and to attack the same problems with modern eyes is to become part of a 3 thousand year old conversation that is still ongoing.

Others seem to be engaged in building their own reality, and in this I am in agreement with people who refer to it as empty wordplay (as would Socrates, who spent most of his time going after such people). Foucault is a good example of this, and a host of others like him.

When you think of philosophers, you think of the classic thinkers, and of the war of ideas that we deal with every day, and there is nothing more necessary, nothing more interesting, civilizations rise and fall on the outcome of these debates. These debates are not really fought out in college classrooms by the clueless boobs assigned to teach them, obviously, they are fought out in peoples’ souls.

To be ignorant of the big questions is to be just one more of the herd, unaware of your destination and purpose, unaware of who is directing your steps and with what motive.

You aren’t a “philosopher” because you have a PHD and tenure, you are a philosopher if you have a clue, and are engaged in the war of ideas. In other words, you, my friend, are a philosopher in the best sense of the word, I say that having read you for years now. I know you. But if your college philosophy professor was one, it was a lucky accident.

There is another class of philosophy as it relates to science. Philosophy in this context is both pre-science and post-science, in a way. Science operates at the edge of knowledge, and when our scientist stares out into the dark past the ring of campfires and asks the unasked question, he is engaging in philosophy. He may be a scientist on his day job, but at that moment he is doing philosophy. The scientist sets about doing the research that sheds light on the question, and as the data is uncovered, it is again the scientist wearing his philosopher’s cap that tries to make sense out of what he is seeing.

And then there are guys like me, looking over his shoulder, I can’t do the science but I can do opinion all day long.

I didn’t always have a high opinion of “philosophy” because I didn’t have a high opinion of most of the empty nonsense that pours out of the pens of people who are usually being lauded as great thinkers. They remind me of the kind of guy your school system hires as this year’s poet laureate, who pays for his year’s stipend with some awful and endless verse that the kids have to be forced to listen to at some school assembly, or the guy who is this year’s “resident composer” who comes up with some awful symphony that will be mercifully forgotten as soon as everyone files out of the auditorium and can get to their MP3.

The ones we love to hate are precisely the guys like Derrida and Foucault, and why leave out frauds like Chomsky, guys only a college professor could love, and will be forgotten as soon as the current crop have retired and been replaced by the next crop of walking clichés.

Real philosophy is precious when you find it. Most of its would-be practitioners are not only wrong but laughably wrong, or dangerously wrong, ranging from the too-dumb-to-know-they’re-wrong to transparently evil to conmen, and if you have the stomach for it you study them so you can defeat them before their ideas become headlines in your morning paper or whole chapters in a history book. And the few philosophers who are capable of divining truth, doing battle on its behalf, and refuting the rest, these are the guys you are looking for. These are the guys we aspire to be.


190 posted on 06/03/2007 8:38:22 PM PDT by marron
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To: marron; betty boop; omnivore
marron, you and betty boop always leave me speechless with your magnificent essays! There is nothing left for me to say, because I so strongly agree.
193 posted on 06/04/2007 9:56:56 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: marron; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe; omnivore; Coyoteman; YHAOS
Of course there are philosophers and then there are philosophers. Some are engaged in trying to explain or identify truth, and these are the greats, there are the ones who even after a hundred generations we can still read with profit, because the questions are still current, even with all of the water under the bridge since then.

To read these guys, and to attack the same problems with modern eyes is to become part of a 3 thousand year old conversation that is still ongoing....

To be ignorant of the big questions is to be just one more of the herd, unaware of your destination and purpose, unaware of who is directing your steps and with what motive.

So beautifully said, marron! Human beings are still asking the same questions about themselves and their place in the universe that they have been asking since the dawn of recorded history. The essential questions do not change. This is the irreducible core of the humanities, especially including philosophy.

Thank you so much for your very kind words, dear marron, and for your beautiful essay/post!

199 posted on 06/05/2007 7:47:06 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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