Leftist Criticism of Leftism

I have made no secret of my strange obsession with Slavoj Zizek. With philosophy being firmly entrenched in the world of academia, his presence and method of discussion are jarring. He’s eccentric, occasionally incoherent, and uses combative phraseology. Zizek is truly the last of his kind and I imagine his method of discussion is similar to the methods of a Socrates or Diogenes.

That is how REAL philosophy is made.

Although he comes from a leftist tradition, he really spends a good majority of his time attacking liberal methodology. This has caused many to misinterpret him and idiotically label him a ‘fascist’. But I believe such criticisms stem from an unwillingness to venture down his thought. Indeed, this is probably why many philosophers are misunderstood. The truth is strikingly difficult to handle and often requires us to make changes.

But none of this is done to undermine liberalism and leftism. It’s all done to enhance it. If liberalism is to prevail, it must handle criticism and followers must be willing to venture down some inconvenient paths. An attempt to distract ourselves from the horrors of terrorism and inequality (as enabled by ‘political correctness’) is akin to burying our heads in the sand.

You must stare at the problem and confront it. This is basically the common message of Slavoj Zizek today.

In this video, Zizek addresses the issue of globalization and multi-culturalism. The common liberal orthodoxy is that the reason why we have trouble with cooperation among culture is a lack of understanding. Specifically, understanding the exact nature of how the ‘other’ lives. If we understand that, then the notion of ‘the enemy’ or ‘the other’ goes away because we would have the understanding that people from other cultures live as we do (or something to that effect). So to fix this problem, all we have to do is have an open dialog with one another.

While these things are fine in-themselves, Zizek seems to indicate that doing those things alone won’t solve the problem. Why? Because we don’t understand ourselves.

I’ve mentioned previously that there’s a whole side of our consciousness that’s not well understood. This is not only true from a neurobiological perspective, but this is also true from the perspective of the self. This is why dreams and hallucinations can sometimes be terrifying, because there’s a side to ourselves that we didn’t know was there. And we usually dismiss these images (especially in the form of dreams) because we believe that they’re just random images collected in the brain (or they don’t emanate from us altogether). What we fail to comprehend is that these images are a part of us that are embedded deep down in the brain.

I’m not sure that that’s what Zizek was getting at, the last paragraph was entirely my addition to this thought. But, even in a very conscious way, we do not understand what WE are capable of. And we fail to understand that change itself does not stem from without but comes from within. In our highly digital and social world, we want to remove this step. We want to believe that in order to create change, we must post things online and ‘enlighten’ others on the struggles of the less fortunate.

But that’s only one aspect towards solving the problem.

It has to take more than telling others that they’re the problem. You have to be willing to see you own relation to the problem. You have to be willing to understand that all of the maladies that mankind suffers are also affecting you. Once again, no one wants to address this problem because that involves having to admit your own ignorance.

You’re the problem. I’m the problem. The guy on the other side of the world is the problem. This is why this takes more than understanding ‘the other’.

Simple understanding doesn’t change much. It also doesn’t make much sense. As Zizek stated (either in the video above or somewhere else)…simply understanding Hitler won’t legitimize his actions. Some things are truly bad, with or without understanding. There are truly bad aspects to cultures. ALL cultures. And under liberal orthodoxy, it is only polite to assess the bad aspects of Western culture.

Does that mean that Western culture doesn’t have any deep seated problems? Of course American and European culture is as bad and corrupting as everyone says it is! No sane person would debate otherwise. But that doesn’t mean that that minimizes the anti-humanitarianism, anti-liberalism (or any other -ism) that is found in other non-Western cultures. There aren’t any saints. There are bad people, ideologies, and practices that are present in all cultures and countries.

I suppose a really negative person could say that it is human nature to be anti-humanitarian. That sentiment is a little too strong for me. But anti-human practices are not monopolized to one side of the world. They are, in fact, present everywhere. And anyone is capable in engaging in them.

I would venture to say that political solidarity of sorts is necessary to remedy these problems. But I’ll leave that speculation to Zizek. Again, he once claimed (either in this video or elsewhere) that states should dictate laws concerning human rights rather than just citizen’s rights. But such methods of political solidarity are above my pay grade.

The point that I find important is that it takes more that understanding the other in order to solve the liberal issues of multi-culturalism and globalization. You (We) have to look inside. Zizek seems to indicate that perhaps the question shouldn’t be “how can we best live together?”, but “how can we ignore each other peacefully?”. I don’t take this to mean any sort of isolationist bullshit, but because culture is so ingrained into our self-conscious and identity…that it’s not as easy as just blending our cultures together to form a single unifying existence. That (in this argument) doesn’t appear to be realistic. The cultural revolution to make this happen can’t go on indefinitely. There has to be a time when people (as individuals, as families) have to LIVE their lives, and it’s the freedom of THESE actions that we are most concerned with.

And these are the new questions we must ask within liberalism.

What Dreams May Come

Most people don’t like nonsense. I’m not one of those people. To the contrary, I find the nonsensical invigorating. Perhaps that’s just a reflection of my own incoherent mind. Yet it’s through the nonsensical musings of Emanuel Swedenborg, Philip K. Dick, Lev Shestov, and Slavoj Zizek that I find some of the most enlightening philosophy. Perhaps it’s just me, but I find structure in the chaos, and chaos in the structure. Continuity in contradiction, and contradiction in continuity.

It’s madness at its finest.

These writers appear to have journeyed to the threshold of insanity. And the results are downright fascinating. Swedenborg and Dick especially appeared to have ventured into some strange spiritual realm. Dick infamously foresaw his son’s illness, believed that some other-worldly entity was communicating with him, and his madness is explored in his Exegesis. Swedenborg also appeared to have engaged in some form of hallucinating illusions of the after-world.

Many would simply brush off these ramblings as nothing but thoughts of madmen, not worthy of actual critical investigation. Of course, the skeptic in me says that these ramblings (especially of Swedenborg and Dick) are nothing but madness exposed. But that would be a failure of appreciation…a peak behind the thin curtain of sanity.

Their madness provides us with an opportunity to explore alternate perceptions of reality. It isn’t an easy thing to achieve. These writers were geniuses. Swedenborg especially is an under appreciated inventor, writer, and theologian of sorts. I suppose that some see the path towards genius as running through the wilderness of madness. They view the world in very different ways. While their thought might not provide a wholly accurate (or coherent) view on philosophy and the universe, it is still important and worthwhile to explore what they saw.

Hallucinations and dreams are usually chalked up as being nothing but random objects of the mind. And it’s true. They are. Swedenborg and Dick didn’t think that their illusions were being generated from within, but were instead divine given. And when they were under possession of their illusions, they would produce page after page of feverish writing. Many would argue that what they were actually experiencing was a brand of mental illness.

Divine or not (although probably not), these images have to be emanating from somewhere. When under the spell of a drug, these images can often appear. However, the drug only exasperates the causes of illusions, but not actually the source of the illusion itself. Those images are already in your brain, that got put in there either through sense experience or some form of a prioric means (if you will). But they are brought front and center when under the spell of a drug, mental illness, or (I suppose) through sleep.

I’m captivated by these accounts because of my own ‘images and experience’ that I find myself engrossed in. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I do suffer from a mental illness (major depression), and therefore I take a drug that helps me to suppress those feelings. However, a side effect to this drug is vivid dreaming.

The world that is created by this dreaming feels so real, that it often comes as a surprise to wake up. They nearly become indistinguishable from reality. A whole world is created with characters, places, and events. Even a specific location can be determined. Last night, for example, I dreamed that I moved to a town in the southwest corner of Iowa called Cree. It’s not a real place (to my knowledge), but my mind generated a whole world that I experienced.

What generates these worlds?

Now, clearly there’s an empirical answer to this. And it’s an answer that’s likely already known, so I don’t need to invoke a spiritual or metaphysical explanation. But I’m not educated or smart enough to know the answer. So whatever. Just hang with me.

But, from a philosophical perspective, I’m fascinated by how these images remain hidden within the mind and catch us by surprise when they’re brought to attention in the active consciousness. These ideas and images are easily classified and obtained within the brain, and therefore don’t reveal any ‘new’ or ‘alien’ conceptions. Or, in Hume’s sense, we’ve never seen a gold mountain, yet we have a conception of ‘gold’ and ‘mountain’. But it’s the manner in which they are presented that can cause such a violent or alarming reaction.

This is why nightmares are so terrifying. Information is presented in such a way as to cause a visceral reaction. When these dreams occur, we wish to rid them from our sleep. But we often fail to consider that this terror is coming from within YOU. It’s wholly created by the processes of the mind.

Of course, this only applies to dreams. Most of us have never experienced a visual, consciously awake hallucination. Those are perhaps more alarming, considering that when one is awake, it’s assumed that the active conscious is in full control. But then a subconscious reaction reveals a whole new world. A world that is a part of the individual, but was previously left unexplored. This lack of exploration leaves one believing that these images were generated from outside of their body.

But it’s through the madness that one can find something new about themselves. The chaos isn’t just some randomness generated without purpose. These images and internal experiences are the result of a subconscious (for a lack of a better word) process attempting to reach out to the conscious. We usually like to ignore these seemingly pointless experiences, but to me, this is a mistake.

We don’t quite know ourselves as well as we think we do. I think that many of us want to ignore this internal madness because we fear what it might reveal. But it’s through this madness that we might discover our true genius. And possibly even discover the meaning of the universe.

Or maybe I’m just trying to justify my own madness. I’ll leave that to you.

 

Objectivity, Subjectivity, and the Continuity of Reality

Of course, the biggest knock against idealism is the seeming continuity of reality. When you leave a room or suspend sense perception of an object, it almost always returns to its prior known form. Reality appears to continue, even without a mind to perceive it.

Therefore throwing into questing the validity of any idealistic notions. Particularly George Berkeley’s radical form of idealism. And philosophers everywhere have attempted to avoid any form of Berkeleyism, to include Immanuel Kant who was accused of such heresy during his time.

The stank of idealism has hurt many philosophers of the post-Hume era. Thinkers like John Searle and Bertrand Russell have questioned the necessity of studying such philosophies, believing that David Hume (and his radical form of empiricism) got it right the first time. To them, all metaphysical arguments against his form of skepticism have failed. To some, although this view is fading, Hume posed a serious danger to the future of philosophical pursuits. His thought (although slightly amended) has yet to be toppled.

Although I sympathize with thinkers trying to remove philosophy from any religiously dogmatic grip (which was possibly what Hume was responding to), throwing out any metaphysical questions that might’ve been posed by such religious investigation is a mistake. Or throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Which is what the extreme positivists and empiricists are essentially doing.

It’s wallowing in the existence of the human mind. It’s having an arrogance of human capability and understanding. It’s basically engaging in the same arguments that the dogmatically religious use.

“What I know is what I know. We can completely and utterly understand the existence of reality. And we can absolutely use human understanding, although imperfect, to understand the nature of the universe.”

And proponents of this extreme form of empiricism usually share the same views: Free will is an illusion, everything is just matter in motion, etc.  And this becomes the dogma in which they view the world.

It’s not all that different from the religious folk. They believe that it is impossible for the universe to exist without the hand of God, and it’s pointless to engage in any theory that would suggest otherwise because they’ll only point to what we already know: That the universe was created by God. This argument is also motivated by the fear that investigation might reveal something that would contradict their worldview. This fear isn’t all that different from the radical positivist.

But instead of preventing such investigation, the positivist dismisses any such speculation as mere fiction. Not worthy of actual critical evaluation.

I don’t know, this might just be an idiotic rant. My point is that it’s important to not fall too deeply into either the purely supernatural perspective of the religious…where anything and everything is permitted without proof….and the dogmatically empirical where we pretty much can’t speculate on anything that isn’t pragmatic.

Which leads me back to idealism. Clearly we don’t live in a purely idealistic world (as differentiated from a purely ideological world, but more on that later). There are certain properties about the world that are shared by everyone and that remain constant, even when they are not being perceived. So the mind isn’t just ONLY perceiving ideas, but are actually perceiving objects that exist in the world.

Fine. Whatever.

BUT, it’s an even harder argument to make to say that objects perceived remain exactly the same without a mind to dictate what it is. And what if NO minds existed to perceive anything? Well then, I guess philosophy, thinking, and everything becomes impossible and therefore we arrive at a dead-end, so who cares? However, to what effect does the mind have on reality?

It’s common sense to believe that the mind has NO alterable affects on reality. Our minds are just impartial spectators of the world outside. Or at least we take this assumption.

But perhaps the mind doesn’t necessarily change the matter in-itself, but does play a role in forming the objects of perception. This is the process of not idealism, but ideology. Meaning that objects that WE see are of our own construction and are easily transferable to other minds, leaving room for an objective reality that other can perceive. BUT, this reality is not universal.

I know, it sounded like I just contradicted myself.

The process of ideology is both cultural and biological. I would say a priori, but I don’t know what the fuck that means anymore. It’s cultural and biological because this is where we form ideas of what makes something a ‘chair’, or ‘red’, or whatever. Things vary culturally, but we can usually agree on things biologically. I don’t really feel like making a distinction between the two at this time. But this is how humans can collectively create an objective reality.

BUT, this ‘objective’ reality is dictated by processes in the mind that only fellow humans can share. The object in question possesses properties that allow the processes in the mind to give a sensation of being something. But this process of ideology, the one exclusive to humans, is (in all likelihood) not universal to all species and active consciousnesses across the universe. To say that it is would take a massive intuitive leap, one similar to the dogmatically religious believer.

What this process or perception IS, honestly…I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just one perception of many among all possible perceptions. Like something akin to the Many-Worlds Hypothesis. Perhaps because this process is exclusive to humans, and these sensations can ONLY be found in the human brain. Don’t know, we’ll just have to see. But, in my opinion, we can’t undervalue evolutionary psychology at this point…as we are adapted to view the world in a very HUMANISTIC way in order for survival, this probably has a tremendous effect on HOW and WHY we perceive the world the way we do.

But, that’s neither here nor there at this point.

Right now, I’m just concerned with how the continuity of reality is possible. Are other interpretations of reality possible? Perhaps that’s an obvious question with an obvious answer. So, I guess I should ask if there are other continuous (yet alterable) perceptions, and can we know anything about them?

Hope that made sense.

 

 

Have We Escaped Idealism?

I typed in ‘German Idealism’ on YouTube. Big mistake. This was the first video to pop up.

I couldn’t tell if the yelling dude in the video was a complete fucking idiot or a genius. But either way, this illustrates the ignorance that people have regarding philosophy.

Does German Idealism need to be ‘completed’? If so, who gives a shit?

Of course, an idiot had to chime in saying “isn’t it a good thing that German Idealism isn’t completed?” Because ‘German’ and ‘Idealism’ has to equal Nazism, right?

But of course, this troll’s ultimate thesis is that Donald Trump is a Kantian. Where he came up with such an idea is beyond me. I doubt Trump has ever had a philosophical thought in his entire life.

But Idealism has certainly taken a hit over the last century. I don’t know if the post Kantian-type ended up sinking the ship because of its loose association with Nazism. I wouldn’t doubt Bertrand Russell felt this way, and this whole school of philosophy has suffered ever since.

Yet I think why it has fallen out of favor is because it’s ultimately unfulfilling. Reality being shaped by the mind leads us to a dead end, and we become creatures trapped within our own minds. Although many have tried to move around Kant, and many believe that they have succeeded in doing so, I find such arguments unconvincing.

I’m not quite sure where the hangup lies. I don’t know if it’s a lack of understanding of Kant, or if they are genuinely disappointed in the fact that we experience a distorted perception of reality (or phenomena). Of all the philosophers out there, it’s the German Idealist that seem to be the most misunderstood (for better or worse, I’m going to throw Schopenhauer into this category despite his protests). Hegel is notoriously hard to understand, but I think that Kant is also grossly misunderstood, despite his influence.

Russell found the “thing-in-itself” to be an awkward product of his philosophy, which would explain why the subsequent German Idealists abandoned it. Such critiques of Kant is a major failure within Russell’s historical account. Perhaps he found the ‘thing-in-itself’ to be redundant, considering our conduct in reality is based on immediate perception (an unknowable thing-in-itself never factors in the equation). But I feel that this is just a lazy attempt to escape metaphysical discussion.

Imagine if all traces of humanity vanishes instantly from this earth. Even depictions of people vanish. The only thing left is the buildings and structures. Now imagine aliens coming to earth, and all that’s left is the mystery of these structures. Remember, no humans or depictions of humans are left. And the aliens are searching for answers as to what these structures meant.

Would it be immediately clear what a ‘chair’, ‘door’, or ‘toaster oven’ would be? Would these objects have the same meaning to these advanced aliens as they would to humans? Or would they only perceive just useless hunks of metal and wood?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the first question, then I suppose that would be a nail in the coffin for idealism. If you answered ‘yes’ to the latter, then I suppose that would make you an idealist.

In this scenario, I would assume the aliens would transpose their own meaning onto these objects. We would be making a massive leap in assuming that some other intelligent species in the universe would have the same perceptions we have. And even if they did, it would be an even greater leap to assume that these perceptions are universal across all intelligent species within the universe.

This is the problem we come across when we assume that humans are experiencing reality as it really is. And we don’t know how far these perceptions go down. Is it possible that even our scientific and mathematical discoveries are actually just representations of the mind?

Scientists everywhere are uncomfortable with this notion. Empirical evidence must represent objective truth. Otherwise, what would be the point in engaging in scientific discourse?

Perhaps I won’t go as far as Kant in saying that we can’t know ANYTHING about the thing-in-itself. I’ve mentioned previously that the discovery of quantum mechanics might be a peak into a world that we were meant to see. But can we understand this world of noumena as intimately as the world of our phenomena?

Maybe not by definition. BUT, that doesn’t mean that scientific truth can’t be found. Again, I might be showing my ignorance here, but perhaps the uncertainty principle is far more widespread than what we realize. (This is just an example, I’m not entirely sure that this is what the principle actually does. Again, scientists chime in). A concept similar to this might be the source of our limited knowledge of Kant’s ‘thing-in-itself’.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.

BUT, our IDEA of objects are based on our shared perceptions. Objects are individuated through processes of the mind. In other words, the human mind is necessary to experience the world in the manner that we do. While similar experiences are possible in other biological minds, the SPECIFIC human experience can only be found in the HUMAN brain. And that is the basis of idealism.

And unfortunately, we can only use the mind to understand the world. Mathematics might be a way to circumvent the subjectivity of experience, and is often seen as such by producing logical outcomes. But it’s entirely possible that even mathematics and logic itself are just representations projected onto the world. Of course, I have made philosophy subordinate to science because science almost exclusively searches for objective truth, yet we don’t know to what extent scientific outcomes bend to our perceptions.

We can only use tools developed by the mind (mathematics, scientific method, etc.) to prove or disprove the outcomes discovered by those tools. Do these activities actually produce objective truth? I don’t know, but I’ll assume that they do in the same way that we make the assumption of free will. But, is it possible that everything that we do is only a reinforcement of human perception?

So are scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, and others that search for truth just unwittingly engaging in idealism? I might be treading dangerously close to endorsing a form of George Berkeley Idealism. And so what? Is there a rule against that?

Of course I don’t want to, and I hope to find a way out of this mess.

Sadly, all of this was brought on because some idiot didn’t know what German Idealism was.

An Idiot’s Guide to Ideology and Einstein’s Relativity

Look, I’m not a scientist. Not in any way shape or form. So it’s probably not a good idea to consult with me on scientific matters. And I don’t really side with the empiricists of the pre-Kant era. HOWEVER, I do fall on the side of GOOD philosophy and GOOD science acting in unison. And because science deals with the empirical, I say that that would make it the superior to philosophy (or philosophy is subordinate to science). After all, philosophy requires a degree of empirical evidence in order to find validity.

Does that make me an empiricist? Or even a positivist? Perhaps reluctantly. I guess a soft positivist, if you will.

BUT, what we fail to to appreciate within empirical and scientific investigation (most notably in physics) is the temporary position that a theory holds. Perhaps its truths don’t completely fade. Yet, their significance do in some ways become minimized, or even replaced. Is Isaac Newton’s specific discoveries discussed in physics courses? I don’t know. Perhaps they are, but are they really just explained as stepping stones to larger and contemporary theories? (Scientists, please help me out here)

Former dominating theories either become amended, expanded, or even expelled altogether. They are then replaced by theories compiled by modern theoretical or empirical investigation. This is the basis of Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm shifts, if you will.

Albert Einstein presented such a paradigm shift. I might be showing my scientific ignorance here, but prior to Einstein, Isaac Newton and other outdated or insufficient models probably dominated scientific thought. Then Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was presented, and thus we have the modern era of physics.

Who knows how many Ph.Ds have been minted by the study of relativity. How many scientists have staked their fame on Einstein’s discoveries? But the sad reality is that Einstein’s days are numbered. He even rejected quantum mechanics, which is a field that’s become more difficult to denounce by the hour. It remains only a matter of time before Einstein’s theories become insufficient. Perhaps not obsolete, but it will become usurped by an even greater discovery (if that discovery has not already been made).

I watched a lecture (shown above) where two speakers reject Einstein’s relativity in the name of preserving dialectical materialism. Despite their efforts, how the two are related is confusing if not pointless. No one in the audience seemed to have been sold on their presentation. I’m willing to go to pretty strange places in order to understand certain philosophical positions, but even this was a bit too much. HOWEVER, this lecture did showcase an interesting problem.

The speakers were willing to reject commonly believed physics, which appeared to anger many. Their reasoning may or may not be sound, but there is an infamous disconnect between quantum mechanics and Einstein’s relativity. The two don’t appear to align with one another, yet both seem to be irrefutable aspects of the universe. This is a side note to the lecture, as both speakers seem to also reject quantum mechanics. BUT they also seem to (perhaps inadvertently) embrace this mind-dependent aspect to science and physics. (But I could be wrong)

Once when we look past the atom, down to the subatomic level, things seem to stop making sense. Now, I’m a huge fan of Slavoj Zizek. His ideology seems to extend all the down to the atomic level. The idea of the ‘atom’ is projected on to the bundle of electrons, neutrons, and whatever else that consists the atom. This form of ideology goes all the way up to easily observable objects. Whatever the title that we attach to a bundle of energy, or matter in motion, is just the veil over the nothingness behind it. But it’s the human mind that attaches descriptors to these objects, and everything seems to fall neatly into a taxonomic system that could be easily understood by the mind. Yet, these systems do not exist without the mind to say that they exist. Which could possibly explain why quantum mechanics seemingly makes little sense.

It’s the crack the peeks through into Kant’s previously unknowable thing-in-itself.

Once when we look past what we normally perceive as knowable objects…people, planets, galaxies, etc….we realize that they are basically nothing, or are things that are completely different than what we project on to them. When the title is removed, when we look at the objects for what they really are, we realize that there is nothing behind the veil.

I’ll take a leap of faith here and say that Einstein’s relativity might be a result of this process. The universe appears to be orderly. All laws of physics are obeyed everywhere. That’s how the world is supposed to work. But perhaps relativity is the reflection in the veil…a representation of the mind’s overall outlook on the universe. All laws are consistent because that’s how the mind sees it, not the way how it really is. If the mind were to be removed, it would reveal a highly chaotic world. Perhaps one that would resemble the world of quantum mechanics.

Zizek once joked that God didn’t expect humans to dig any further than the atomic level. Yet somehow we did. Or we think we did. But we have uncovered a highly mysterious realm where previous held beliefs breakdown. Perhaps the day will come when we might realize that relativity is not the dominant model for the functioning of the universe (or something like that(again, scientists, help me out here)). But as the audience suggests in the above lecture, that’s going to piss a great deal of scientists off because SO many staked their claim on its validity. And any evidence or theory that suggests the contrary is to be laughed out of the room.

I don’t know. Call me crazy.

Additionally, the speakers seemed to have engaged in a sort of argument that pisses me off. For example, the first guy stated that one of the weak links in relativity is that Einstein once said something that contradicted the theory. He believed that that was proof that even Einstein didn’t believe his own theory (or something close to that. Just watch the video). I see this argument used a lot, and it really lacks any sense.

Even Bertrand Russell seemed to have fallen into this stupid pitfall. When criticizing Arthur Schopenhauer in the book A History of Western Philosophy, the knock against him was that Schopenhauer never practiced what he preached. Therefore, somehow, Schopenhauer’s philosophy is shallow.

It’s a weak argument. We don’t have to know anything about a writer, philosopher, scientist, etc, in order to appreciate their work. Yet this argument is used when there becomes a lack of valid criticism.

So when someone uses it, the argument is probably full of shit. Plus, I was quite disappointed with A History of Western Philosophy. There’s more on that later.

Philosophy Redux: Introduction-Philosophy is Dead

 

branches&creatures

Philosophy is dead.

Not that I can say that with any degree of certainty. Such certainties are never a given within philosophical pursuits. But its role within intellectual discourse has certainly been diminished.

Many have forgotten the behemoth that was once Philosophy. Hell, we forget how much we owe to philosophy. An infamous example is the ‘P’ in Ph.D. Science, ethics, politics, mathematics, and a host of other fields owe the philosophers a debt of gratitude.

But who are the great thinkers of our era? Can any of them be considered ‘philosophers’? Its role in society has be usurped by the scientists, activists, and even comedians… seemingly making the discipline of philosophy an obsolete exercise. Can Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Stephen Colbert be considered our era’s David Hume and Niccolo Machiavelli?

What can philosophy reveal to us today? And how can these revelations be applied? In my opinion… who gives a shit?

Practicality was never my forte. And finding solutions to modern problems probably won’t be found in metaphysical discussion. But what does it matter?

Does it mean that philosophy is useless?

When it comes to finding definitive answers, then probably. When engaging in philosophical discussions, finding truth is a fool’s errand. The real objective of philosophy is to find more questions.

Science has long been thought as the gateway to absolute truth. And in modern intellegencia, science can seemingly do no wrong. While the discovering of new knowledge is firmly in the monopoly of the scientists, that’s only one half of the equation.

Understanding is the other half. As the great Immanuel Kant said:

“Thoughts without concepts are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind”

Knowledge in-itself is useless. It’s about what we do with the facts…what the figures reveal to us, and how we relate to them. Meaning isn’t found in the raw data. It’s found in our minds. Philosophy has long been the tool to help us unlock that meaning.

The stuffy academic halls have failed lively philosophical discourse. It has relegated itself to the useless textbooks and has prided itself on being inaccessible to the common person. What was long ago seen as a meaningful and beneficial profession, is sadly no more.

In my view, philosophy is best when it becomes an impartial spectator. No one ideology has a monopoly on meaning and truth. I don’t care about appealing to any one school of thought. I don’t really care about arriving at any practical conclusions.

The world is a complicated place. We only experience a small fraction of it. Yet, perhaps it’s far more accessable than what we realize. We might not be able to physically access these hidden manifolds within space and time, but we can explore them through the power of imagination.

We often underappreciate the tools that nature granted us. The brain is capable of many things, and it is indeed the last great frontier on this Earth. But it is through the imagination, that we might be granted a peak behind the curtain. And perhaps philosophy might not be able to bring us truth. But it can allow us to dig deeper into the world that we take for granted.

So we need a revival. We need a renaissance of philosophy. Now more than ever. In our highly digitalized world, knowledge is easy to come by. But we need more than knowledge. We need to know what that knowledge means to us. And we need to ask questions about the applicability of scientific revelations. We need to keep digging a little deeper into the worlds that were previously thought impossible.

Philosophy is dead. But our minds have the power resurrect it.