Friday, August 22, 2014

Denying Philosophy - Part 1

I recently had the good fortune to hear Ravi Zacharias.  I was moved, spiritually, and, more importantly, intellectually.  Mr. Zacharias is a Smartypants.  He's a big brain type with a humble demeanor and a soft voice - that occasionally gets passionate when he recalls irrational past conflicts, or he wants the audience to know his love of Christ.  He literally changed my life.  I keep listening to part 2 of his podcast on science & religion released late July 2014.  I also learned stuff while listening to Mr. Z.  I learned the word apologist means something far removed from my personal interpretation - a noun describing a person whose behaviors are so bad they must recant and atone for said behaviors.  That's me.  Mr. Z is something else.  He politely argues Christianity in hostile environs.  He makes mincemeat out of his "adversaries" - very calmly, politely.  He'd never think to call them adversaries, but I will.  I'll probably have to practice my form of apology for those remarks, but I'm working to be better.  And, in the spirit propounded by Mr. Z, I'll hopefully soften my tone going forward.

Philosophy... What a jumble of Id and Id-ology(s).  Philosophy, was once esteemed.  Philosophy was used to literally seal the Darwinian coffin on God.  Once philosophy did it's part - Neitzsche declard God is Dead... philosphy was kicked to the curb and asked to find another place to practice its man-made pursuits.  Philosophy and philosophers fell on hard times.

What is philosophy?  Philosophy is the discipline that ostensibly studies general and fundamental questions. These include: reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished by its critical, generally systematic approach, and a reliance on rational argument to define conclusions.  OK so far, that is fine for the uber-wealthy, doesn't need a job, philosophy student/practitioner.  Most philosophers aren't paid well.  Not nearly enough to compensate for the years spent in drudgery - reading the philosophical works of others and sucking up to professors of philosophy.  

Who has the need to hire a philosopher?  What is their work product?  If they're hired, how does one establish compensation?  These are the questions practitioners and employers must face, consider, and answer to determine their reason for being - as compensation literally keeps them alive and defines their quality of life.  

Making a living as a philosopher is not easy - if one desires to a live better than a pauper.  The job opportunities are few and circumspect.  There are practical reason for this - see above.  In my considered opinion, and apparently in the opinions of others, everything about philosophy that is relevant to man was considered and interpreted before the fall of the Roman Empire! Otherwise, philosophers would be in greater demand.  That they are not, speaks to demand. 

Sure, there are new technologies and discoveries - they impact life and man's thinking; but man's understanding himself, truths, falsehoods, objectives and the means and methods to rationally examine a topic, was determined, quite well, quite thoroughly, back in the days of Aristotle and Plato. Additionally, each man's free will ensures he will interpret and reason uniquely!!!  He won't care what the philosopher wrote.  The practical use for philosophy, outside a philosophy classroom, rivals the solar powered umberella.  That creates a problem for modern philosophers - at least the ones coming after Rome's  fall.  How they can capture enough attention, create demand, and thereby gain income and fame that adequately rewards the time and efforts spent in study, requires slight of hand and flim flam.  

In support of my claims, I offer Emmanuel Kant.  The first page of his "Greatest" work, (A Priori) "Critique of Pure Reason" - is peerless - there's few comparative works.  That is my positive comment.  I also defy anyone to read the first page in that tome, straight through, and comprehend what is written. That means not stopping, not going backwards, or reflecting at any point.  The book is an overbearing exercise in minutia interpretation and "meaning".  It's inordinately time consuming tripe - IMCO.  

If the purpose of a book, is to share information known by the author with the reader, Kant... spectacularly, FAILS!  It's clear Kant, wants the reader to revere his his mental prowess, his command of the English language, and his conclusions.  He purposely convolutes words and reason (A Priori) needlessly - to so do.  The pages that follow Kant's central theme - A Priori - choose and mix the words into a mental macrame project; with the term A Priori ubiquitously littering the pages for purposes that must include - assuring the reader is as dedicated to considering confusion's many options, as the author.  Kant's work is meant to impact meaning, the physical and metaphysical and consciousness streaming that floods around them. Kant's versions are likened to Jack Kerouac - on steroids; and LSD or another mind altering substance. 

Admittedly, Kant had a hard row to hoe.  His peers included John Locke and Adam Smith. Keeping up in that company requires a very tall intellect that masters several disciplines. Ex. Smith's Masterpiece: "...Wealth of Nations, in my opinion, is one of the finest works using the English language ever composed.

Perhaps I'm too stupid to "understand" Kant's work.  Perhaps the several IQ test results that reveal I'm not unsmart are flawed.  Perhaps....  I have a habit of reducing things down to the LCD - so my small brain can understand complex issues.  I see what's there, analyze and draw

obvious conclusions.  And unless study reveals mitigating factors, the initial finding will suffice and is usually accurate.  

I view Kant alongside Picasso - a charlatan, who managed to utterly confound and then dominate his profession.  What Picasso did away from his artwork, to initially gain the attention of benefactors (and the money associated with attention getting) remains a mystery, but I place nothing off limits.  Pablo was an itinerant soul who reused canvases.  His motivations to get gain and improve his income were strong.  Kant might share his motivations for fame - as most men desire it - if only to feed, and shelter themselves.

Another factoid holds sway.  Mankind has a need to raise up Geniuses from their era.  Worthy or not, each generation locates and promotes examples of the generation's significance; superiority.  Some generations do a much better job than others making the selection(s) and/or they are more fortunate in the number of exceptional souls born during their time.  Maybe they don't care. Maybe they are thumbing the eyes of academics and intellectuals. Maybe...  they are not smart enough to know the differences that separate real genius from the K-Mart, or trumped up variety.  This genius distinction gets very narrow at the extremes.  Making a good choice reflects upon the generation, which is why adherents (usually philosophy teachers) compel the students that come along, to revere the choices made - deserving, or not. 

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