Nihilism and Revolution

The End of Philosophy

What happened to just thinking?
Rebecca Wolsak, Inter Pares

With only one class left, my degree from the prestigious philosophy department of the University of Pittsburgh is not far away. Since my first class I have muscled my way through philosophy’s greats. Plato’s Republic? Piece of cake. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason? Easy as pie. Even phrases like panta rei and cogito ergo sum are pushovers to me.

Yet despite all of this heavenly knowledge that has been bestowed upon me, I am left unsatisfied. My professors amaze me with their ability to clearly elaborate on any subject, but they never apply their timeless wisdom to reality. Instead of rigorously debating the problems of today, my professors lull the class to sleep with lackluster lectures on trivial topics. Do I possess a priori knowledge? What is the form of me? Am I a thinking thing? Let’s be honest: being lost in the clouds never saved a child from starvation and it never will.

My grades are determined by how well I can regurgitate uninspiring thoughts. I had a class last year, for example, which covered modern philosophy. One of our main subjects was Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. We found several flaws in Descartes’ arguments but instead of constructing our arguments against his conclusions, we were forced to merely summarize them. Such mediocrity and mental garbage drives me to one simple conclusion: philosophy is extinct.

If we are to believe that philosophy is some guy’s opinion, then we have forgotten the essence of philosophy. Philosophy is the touchstone of all progress. We must remember that philosophy is the purest form of dissent. If we do not ask questions, if we do not question authority, if we do not pressure ourselves, then society will never advance. All progress comes from change, and philosophers used to be the backbone of change. Whether we go back thousands of years to Socrates’ “corrupting the youth” or more recently to Bertrand Russell’s condemnation of the Vietnam War, it is obvious that philosophers used to take a stand against a callous system. Now they simply summarize and overanalyze all the irrelevant aspects of life.

This “magnificent” philosophy program I have experienced is a glorified course in writing book reports. Philosophy has been badgered to death by dogmatic opinions and shallow thoughts.

What happened to just thinking?
What happened?


Jordan Romanus

90 comments on the article “The End of Philosophy”

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Rob Hughes

You ask "what happened to just thinking?" but, the crux of argument relies on critiquing courses were you did, and studied those who did, just that. You criticize your professor for not applying the thoughts of Kant or Descartes to reality but if they did, would that be "just thinking".

Furthemore, and speaking of dogmatic and shallow thoughts, I would argue philosophy is not "dead". Do not insult all those doing important philosophical work. Philosophy is alive and well. If your looking for philosophers with their heads less "in the clouds" they aren't very hard to find. Look to the work of someone like Giorgio Agamben or Albert Camus.

Great revolutionary actions stem from those with their "head in the clouds", those "just thinking". Although studies of a priori knowledge and the like may not be the most stimulating topics but they provide insight and a deeper awareness of self which form the foundation for more fruitful endeavors.

I'm afraid I don't understand your argument Jordan, it is all over the place. If philosophy has one thing to teach us, it is how to formulate and present a well structured argument. In that respect, it seems philosophy my have failed you. If anything is extinct it appears the program you in Pittsburgh

Rob Hughes

You ask "what happened to just thinking?" but, the crux of argument relies on critiquing courses were you did, and studied those who did, just that. You criticize your professor for not applying the thoughts of Kant or Descartes to reality but if they did, would that be "just thinking".

Furthemore, and speaking of dogmatic and shallow thoughts, I would argue philosophy is not "dead". Do not insult all those doing important philosophical work. Philosophy is alive and well. If your looking for philosophers with their heads less "in the clouds" they aren't very hard to find. Look to the work of someone like Giorgio Agamben or Albert Camus.

Great revolutionary actions stem from those with their "head in the clouds", those "just thinking". Although studies of a priori knowledge and the like may not be the most stimulating topics but they provide insight and a deeper awareness of self which form the foundation for more fruitful endeavors.

I'm afraid I don't understand your argument Jordan, it is all over the place. If philosophy has one thing to teach us, it is how to formulate and present a well structured argument. In that respect, it seems philosophy my have failed you. If anything is extinct it appears the program you in Pittsburgh

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