Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Slipping into My Mind

"One could say that the true philosopher does not have to be a great and famous human being. There are thousands of philosophers living quietly among us. They tend to look very much like everyone else. They marry, have families, and hold jobs. They watch football on Sunday afternoons and drink beer."
This quote from the first chapter of "Philosophy: Something to Believe In" won me over. It appears on page two and when I read it I thought, well all right then - one does not need to be Plato or Kierkegaard or Facault to be a philosopher - and thank goodness because I've read their writings and they are a little dense.

Actually it is the next quote that got me thinking that I too am a philosopher. I mean I do watch a little football on Sunday's but I almost never drink beer. I might have a glass of wine now and then with dinner. Anyway, there's this idea:

"..They do one more thing, a thing most people don't bother doing: they enjoy slipping into their minds and putting their thoughts together, not just for practical purposes but for some deeper, unexplainable need to think on a broad scale."
A philosopher thinks about humankind after solving problems in their own household. This is my life in nutshell - only it also includes the church - so I spend all day "problem" solving for home and work....and then I need to take a little time to slip into my mind and think for sake of thinking. 

"the philosophical life, the life marked by the love of wisdom or at all events the love of the search, is a life-style all its own. It can survive lack of status, loss of wealth, even broken love affairs. Like the life-style of artistic people, it finds its joy in itself, not in what it may lead to in the way of social success or recognition. It need not produce superachievement, even by its own standards. A true philosopher may end her life feeling she has never to her own satisfaction answered a single question; but she will know that she has asked many questions others have never thought about. At the very least the philosophical life is an examined life, and as Socrates tells us, the other kind is not worth living."

The chapter goes on to discuss the difference between spontaneity and reflection, arguing that reflection is way to wisdom. "Reflection suggests that we view things in a larger perspective than the urgencies of the moment." Our experiences become meaningful when we are able to reflect upon them, learn from them, perhaps respond to them - and not just react to the experience. 

I do think we are living in an age when most people, by and large, are reactive not reflective. It seems to me that if people really took the time to think things through carefully, logically, factually we would not a Presidential race as close as it is. If we were better able to each reflect upon, examine, our own thoughts and motivations and beliefs, we might be a different people.

Unfortunately, because of the general insecurity which prevails deep down inside us concerning our beliefs, we sometimes viciously attack the premises of others as a defense against having our own questioned.
I think that sums, exactly, what is going. Rather than examine our own ideas and understand them better and how they motivate us for better or for worse, people simple attack the other. Easier to attack than have one's own beliefs questioned, which may require us to think, reflect, question, examine what we believe and why. And how those beliefs motivate us.

Take for example prejudice. Many polls lately have shown that the American people are more actively prejudice than we were in 2008. However people deny their prejudice and mask it with with criticisms of the other rather than looking their fear - for prejudice is rooted in fear - in the face. Without being able to examine one's own life one cannot understand one's own limits, fears, hopes, and dreams.

And so people go on the attack. Surely it is the other person who is wrong. And, since people cannot name the true root of their fear, what is wrong is stuff that isn't even wrong. Lies are spouted as truth and rather than reflect on the lies they are simply accepted. It's easier that way. "The generally nonreflective-life style is attractive to many persons..."

But I fear that in this day and age those who follow a nonreflective life style are making decisions that will have grave consequences.

The wayfarer,
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
"Ha." he said.
"I see that none has passed here
in a long time."
Later he saw that each weed
was a singular knife.
"Well," he mumbled at last,
"Doubtless there are other roads."
- Stephen Crane

We're on a path leading somewhere. Will we just simply go, though the way is sharp? Or will we take time to think, reflect, ponder, listen, discern, examine and understand what motivates us?

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

I'm not sure if technology is to blame, or all-consuming media, or just that there are too many of us crammed into too little space...but we have become a lazy people. We don't want to think, we don't want to work, we don't want to put any effort into anything. And the unfortunate result of this is that we are getting exactly the quality of society we are working for. It doesn't help that a certain segment of the political machine has identified this laziness and exploited it to the hilt...

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...