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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Anonymous Coward

"Let’s be honest: being lost in the clouds never saved a child from starvation and it never will. "

If we do not know why we save children from starvation, then how would we do it? If you're going off and saving children, you have adopted some philosophy, possible on the subject of saving children, or a general philosophy. Every thinking being must be a philosopher. Every person who opposed any war was a philosopher. Granted, every person who ever started any war was also a philosopher, and there is a philosophy of war along with a philosophy of peace.

Anonymous Coward

"Let’s be honest: being lost in the clouds never saved a child from starvation and it never will. "

If we do not know why we save children from starvation, then how would we do it? If you're going off and saving children, you have adopted some philosophy, possible on the subject of saving children, or a general philosophy. Every thinking being must be a philosopher. Every person who opposed any war was a philosopher. Granted, every person who ever started any war was also a philosopher, and there is a philosophy of war along with a philosophy of peace.

juniper

well said as to the thought that is lacking, the understanding of one's location in life, one's contribution to the world-as-it-is. i was a frustrated philosophy major, eager to live what the profs talked about. but like sid67 says, you really do need to understand the foundations of philosophy to think and discuss and benefit from the historic others who paved the way for you to have the privilege to just think and ponder your place in space. or for me to do the same. so i hit the road with my phil in my head and my worn hardcover being and time book in my hands and explored amerika, looking for the revolution, the peeps who thought and dissented ... along the lines of philosophy being the truest form of dissent. my foundations in philosophy, coupled with experience and other life and educational pursuits, definitely underscore the need to sometimes just think. the spectrum of politics encourages action. it matters not what your political ideology, but a politician must promulgate possibilities, advocate alternatives, try to find and implement solutions. sometimes solutions are more problematic. contemplation, thought, reflection on being and ethics and conduct and purpose, can definitely reveal the need to take a step back. amerika does not follow the tao ... does not be like water ... we act and consume. consuming the old texts and truly understanding what they mean allows you to be like water ... take the path of least resistance by surfing along the contradictions faced in the day-to-day, from personal to societal, from ethical to ideal, and everyotherwhichway on the spheric weathervane of the paths traveled and less so. balancing ideas, pausing in reflection, contemplating how to drift, how to best and meaningfully and simply drift. all of that definitely stems from the knowledge you learn when being taught how to learn and being of the mentality that you resist it because you already know how to learn, you want to spout your own philosophy, cry it out from the tops of the mountaintops yelp yelp!! but you still learn it, and it becomes a part of you, and as you embrace the drift, your urgency mellows and you truly just think ... think and flow and try to be more still ... but active, contemplative, a part of the solution. well, that is how it was for me. be patient, grasshopper. in time, your great ideas will flow. for now, learn ... and just think, rather than thinking that the ancient and modern philosophers have little to offer to your postmodern, or present, thought.

juniper

well said as to the thought that is lacking, the understanding of one's location in life, one's contribution to the world-as-it-is. i was a frustrated philosophy major, eager to live what the profs talked about. but like sid67 says, you really do need to understand the foundations of philosophy to think and discuss and benefit from the historic others who paved the way for you to have the privilege to just think and ponder your place in space. or for me to do the same. so i hit the road with my phil in my head and my worn hardcover being and time book in my hands and explored amerika, looking for the revolution, the peeps who thought and dissented ... along the lines of philosophy being the truest form of dissent. my foundations in philosophy, coupled with experience and other life and educational pursuits, definitely underscore the need to sometimes just think. the spectrum of politics encourages action. it matters not what your political ideology, but a politician must promulgate possibilities, advocate alternatives, try to find and implement solutions. sometimes solutions are more problematic. contemplation, thought, reflection on being and ethics and conduct and purpose, can definitely reveal the need to take a step back. amerika does not follow the tao ... does not be like water ... we act and consume. consuming the old texts and truly understanding what they mean allows you to be like water ... take the path of least resistance by surfing along the contradictions faced in the day-to-day, from personal to societal, from ethical to ideal, and everyotherwhichway on the spheric weathervane of the paths traveled and less so. balancing ideas, pausing in reflection, contemplating how to drift, how to best and meaningfully and simply drift. all of that definitely stems from the knowledge you learn when being taught how to learn and being of the mentality that you resist it because you already know how to learn, you want to spout your own philosophy, cry it out from the tops of the mountaintops yelp yelp!! but you still learn it, and it becomes a part of you, and as you embrace the drift, your urgency mellows and you truly just think ... think and flow and try to be more still ... but active, contemplative, a part of the solution. well, that is how it was for me. be patient, grasshopper. in time, your great ideas will flow. for now, learn ... and just think, rather than thinking that the ancient and modern philosophers have little to offer to your postmodern, or present, thought.

Anonymous

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raX60qjOqpg

A professor talking about Philosophy for Children, and "Big P" Philosophy as abstract argumentation versus "small p" philosophy as a dialogical method of inquiry.

Anonymous

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raX60qjOqpg

A professor talking about Philosophy for Children, and "Big P" Philosophy as abstract argumentation versus "small p" philosophy as a dialogical method of inquiry.

Anonymous

"All progress comes from change..."

Two thoughts on this.

First, some progress comes from same. Second, very little change is actually progress.

Anonymous

"All progress comes from change..."

Two thoughts on this.

First, some progress comes from same. Second, very little change is actually progress.

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