Friday, 3 July 2015

Is doing philosophy a good or bad thing, usually?

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I came across an interesting early post from this blog:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/what-have-philosophers-ever-done-for-us.html

Which makes the good point that - at least from where I stand now - it is arguable that philosophy/ philosophers have mostly had bad consequences.

Of course this blog is full of philosophizing - but that might be more like a disease; indeed that is what it is like for me: philosophy leads to problems which I try to treat using philosophy. Sometimes it helps, often when I solve the pressing difficulty to my satisfaction, another equally bad problems pops-up somewhere else.

So, I am very ambivalent about the value of philosophy. I would not even say it was neutral, and dependant upon how people used it (like a tool) - because I think it may not be as good as neutral: doing philosophy may be intrinsically harmful, as Wittgenstein believed.

I am sure that professional philosophy, philosophy as an academic discourse, is harmful (when it is not simply an ineffectual waste of time and money) - philosophers ought not to be paid to do it, nor even to teach it - except as part of history; and philosophy ought to be done by amateurs from love, or compulsion.

And philosophy needs to be creative, in the sense that it must be alive, experienced, and put to work. 

And doing real philosophy, as a public discourse, is a bit like being in a self-help group for addicts. If I talk philosophy with somebody similarly afflicted... well, the damage has been done, and we are just helping each other cope.

But to 'push' philosophy on other people, perhaps with the covert intent of creating more addicts ...well, that is pretty likely to harm them.

Philosophy, as a circumscribed discourse, is a bit like psychotherapy: if it did-not exist, it would not be necessary to invent it. 

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