Sunday, March 12, 2017

Monday musing 279 : Philosophise or Perish

Monday musing 279 : Philosophise or Perish

I have been looking at the world of philosophy a little more closely these past few weeks – yeah, philosophy; the same subject that was by and large so looked down upon by most who guided us in the pursuit of our careers. In fact I haven’t met a child who when asked by elders, arguably the stupidest question ever asked ‘’what do you want to become when you grow up?’’, answers he wants to be a philosopher. An engineer for sure, a plumber may be, but never the darn philosopher.

So what does a philosopher do mostly – I mean what is his job description? Well puritanically speaking his job is ‘to think’. Now imagine about all those who look down upon philosophy at the cost of other fields are basically saying – ‘sorry give me anything else to do but not ask to think’. No wonder we have what we have around. A world full of non thinkers and even worse, a world full those who think that they can think and even worse still, those who think that they can afford not to think!

The argument that is abound is that philosophy is mere theorising and has no action in built into it – which is more critical. ‘Just get the job done’ they say! A good job cannot happen without great thinking, for there is always a transmission loss between thought and action. So imagine a system which has not taught thinking to its children, because it thought philosophy was mere theorising (have you ever studied a subject around thinking in your education?) expects great action from them thereafter! Things can be much worse – a quote says it well – ‘’A society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy; neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water’’

Is there hence a space for a little bit of philosophy in whatever we do – writing codes or jingles, selling soap or oil, singing or playing – could we ‘philosphise’ a bit before jumping into action?  Can we learn to think? Not in the 2-minute noodle type of ‘’learning to think’ but deeply and meaningfully. Aristotle demands that you should be filled with ‘wonder’ before you can do any meaningful work, leave aside thinking. Do we have ‘wonder’ about what we do? Are we amazed ever? Do we want to find out more before we jump to offer opinion or solution? May be time has come to have a dash of philosophy in our lives; in a manner of speaking may be its time to have a bit of ‘thinking’ in our lives!

I can hear the sounds of disapproval. Let me share with you what the philosopher does before you say no. In the words of philosopher Bertrand Russell, this is what philosophising could do - ‘’my desire and wish is that the things I start with should be so obvious that you wonder why I spend my time stating them. This is what I aim because the point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it’’ The idea is to think about the mundane and the common things but in an entirely new way – an ability that is uncommon to say the least.

So here is my two bits to this – I am not a philosopher material and may be this life is too late to do something about it. However that does not and should not stop me from giving thinking better a shot.

I will not let Bertrand Russell’s prophecy deter me – ‘’Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so’’