Month: September 2014

The world of armchair philosophy

aristotle In the modern world there are thousands of voices demanding your attention. From advertising to politics to polite dinner conversation, someone is always practicing philosophy. I know philosophy is that oft maligned, and sadly oft neglected field of study. That barely stops someone from telling you what they think is right and wrong. Whenever someone says that this view or that view is good or bad, or whether or not this law is better, or even when they suggest that life is about “whatever makes you happy,” they are engaging in the discipline of philosophy. I use the term “discipline” loosely because, more often than not, there is no discipline involved in the person engaged in debate. In fact it is quite clear to even the modest thinker that everyone from the scientist to the housewife engages in Philosophy. This is easy to demonstrate.

Consider Lilith. She is a mother of three raising her two boys and one girl. She just disciplined the youngest child for stealing her brother’s cookie while he was busy looking for his dropped fork. How is she engaging in philosophy you ask? It’s simple really, she believes that stealing is wrong and she wishes to discourage her daughter from the act. She may not even know why she believes that stealing is wrong, but that doesn’t stop her from pushing her views onto her daughter. Everything about the situation, from the choice to discipline, to the manner of discipline, to the notion of parents teaching children are all questions of philosophy. Consider if Liliith’s husband were to arrive to the table, witness the discipline and suggest that their daughter was right to take the cookie and that if her brother wanted to keep his cookie, he should guard it better. What do you suppose the conversation would look like then?

Philosophy is inescapable therefore the question becomes, what is good philosophy and what is bad philosophy? I can’t give you a full answer without boring you to tears, assuming you have even read this far. However I can suggest that there are authors who make compelling arguments that are far from what would be considered strict rational arguments. You hear our politicians using hot-button, emotional fire starters like abortion and women’s rights and racism to convince people that their philosophies are correct. The most recent debacle in Ferguson devolved quite far from reasonable conversation yet it left a segment of the population utterly convinced that something so heinous as rioting, pillaging, and looting was completely justifiable. With philosophers like the anchors on major media networks, who needs morons?