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”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 90

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Anonymous

Yes, analytic philosophy often lacks application to life: presumably you'd be more satisfied with continental philosophy and critical theory.

But even if it doesn't tell us how to live, analytic philosophy has its own value and intellectual integrity. Analytic philosophy is not regurgitation and book reports, by any stretch of the imagination. If your course in analytic philosophy has really been taught badly, that says something about the department and your particular teachers, not something about analytic philosophy.

Anonymous

Yes, analytic philosophy often lacks application to life: presumably you'd be more satisfied with continental philosophy and critical theory.

But even if it doesn't tell us how to live, analytic philosophy has its own value and intellectual integrity. Analytic philosophy is not regurgitation and book reports, by any stretch of the imagination. If your course in analytic philosophy has really been taught badly, that says something about the department and your particular teachers, not something about analytic philosophy.

Anonymous

So go out and do something. There's nothing intrinsic to reading philosophy; just as you could read engineering textbooks all day and never build anything, you can read every book ever, and never do anything. You've been given a set of tools, a series of theories designed to engage your mind. If you choose to do something with it, go ahead. If you would rather do nothing, then that's your prerogative, but don't blame it on professors. They did their job.

Anonymous

So go out and do something. There's nothing intrinsic to reading philosophy; just as you could read engineering textbooks all day and never build anything, you can read every book ever, and never do anything. You've been given a set of tools, a series of theories designed to engage your mind. If you choose to do something with it, go ahead. If you would rather do nothing, then that's your prerogative, but don't blame it on professors. They did their job.

Anonymous

Try reading something that isn't 400 years old. Try reading something from the last 30 years. Try reading A Thousand Plateaus.

Anonymous

Try reading something that isn't 400 years old. Try reading something from the last 30 years. Try reading A Thousand Plateaus.

Anonymous

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a great example of a philosopher and dissident rooted in the real world. Things aren't as bad as they seem, you just need to dig deeper to find those that are truly thinking.

Anonymous

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a great example of a philosopher and dissident rooted in the real world. Things aren't as bad as they seem, you just need to dig deeper to find those that are truly thinking.

Anonymous

this short essay reminded me of this news article I read a few weeks back:

http://www.chaser.com.au/news-mainmenu-26/general-mainmenu-101/3516-unis-axe-philosophy-departments-for-failing-to-find-answers

times are tough for philosophers, dude!

Anonymous

this short essay reminded me of this news article I read a few weeks back:

http://www.chaser.com.au/news-mainmenu-26/general-mainmenu-101/3516-unis-axe-philosophy-departments-for-failing-to-find-answers

times are tough for philosophers, dude!

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