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 81 - 90 of 90

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jasonnnnnn

First of all, I've taken some 300 and 400 level philosophy courses at UBC, it's not my major but I really enjoy what I've been exposed to.

My professors are rarely just looking for a summary. In every class I've taken, we were asked in most of our take-home assignments something like "do you find this argument convincing? why or why not?" They usually ask for straight summaries in the in-class essays, which is reasonable actually due to time constraints.

Your department or prof probably just isn't very good. And it's kind of stupid to generalize that philosophy as a whole is dead because of your experiences at one university.

This is just another example of adbusters publishing attention grabbing doomsday articles that make inflammatory over generalizations to sell their product. Or maybe i should give the editors the benefit of the doubt and assume they just can't spot bad writing when they see it.

jasonnnnnn

First of all, I've taken some 300 and 400 level philosophy courses at UBC, it's not my major but I really enjoy what I've been exposed to.

My professors are rarely just looking for a summary. In every class I've taken, we were asked in most of our take-home assignments something like "do you find this argument convincing? why or why not?" They usually ask for straight summaries in the in-class essays, which is reasonable actually due to time constraints.

Your department or prof probably just isn't very good. And it's kind of stupid to generalize that philosophy as a whole is dead because of your experiences at one university.

This is just another example of adbusters publishing attention grabbing doomsday articles that make inflammatory over generalizations to sell their product. Or maybe i should give the editors the benefit of the doubt and assume they just can't spot bad writing when they see it.

Anonymous

I am not a philosophy major, nor did I take more than two philosophy classes. Philosophy hasn't ended, but it is easy to see that he doesn't mean it is completely dead. Very similar how punk rock musicians say punk is dead. To Jason from UBC, I don't think you even read the article correctly so your comment is kinda anoying to read. I found the article to very true to my everyday experiences. In my experiences I see a great improvement in technology and knowledge, but no greater decision making than ever before. What a let down.

Anonymous

I am not a philosophy major, nor did I take more than two philosophy classes. Philosophy hasn't ended, but it is easy to see that he doesn't mean it is completely dead. Very similar how punk rock musicians say punk is dead. To Jason from UBC, I don't think you even read the article correctly so your comment is kinda anoying to read. I found the article to very true to my everyday experiences. In my experiences I see a great improvement in technology and knowledge, but no greater decision making than ever before. What a let down.

Anonymous

to the last guy:
the author says "instead of constructing our arguments against his conclusions, we were forced to merely summarize them."

that was his main objection, that his philosophy department didn't encourage critical thinking and hence dissent.

I'm just saying he appears to have experience with only one philosophy department, so i don't think he's qualified to make that generalization about dozens of other philosophy departments.

and what, was he expecting his philosophy degree to give him all the training he needs for a career in political activism and being a revolutionary?

it's typical of adbusters style of hating the status quo and thinking revolution is the solution to everything

Anonymous

to the last guy:
the author says "instead of constructing our arguments against his conclusions, we were forced to merely summarize them."

that was his main objection, that his philosophy department didn't encourage critical thinking and hence dissent.

I'm just saying he appears to have experience with only one philosophy department, so i don't think he's qualified to make that generalization about dozens of other philosophy departments.

and what, was he expecting his philosophy degree to give him all the training he needs for a career in political activism and being a revolutionary?

it's typical of adbusters style of hating the status quo and thinking revolution is the solution to everything

Anonymous

Interesting, I had an ethics class that began with a worksheet titiled " How Machiavellian are You?" and proceeded to endorse the practice of his principles of conduct.

Anonymous

Interesting, I had an ethics class that began with a worksheet titiled " How Machiavellian are You?" and proceeded to endorse the practice of his principles of conduct.

Anonymous

While he may use his terminology a bit loosely, I think he does make a solid point. Philosophy really seems to be centered around arguing over ambiguous, abstract ideas without any scientific input. I still don't understand why to this day philosophers worship Plato's theory of forms. Also, I wouldn't dismiss the University of Pittsburgh as a bad philosophy program, especially considering it's philosophy graduate program is ranked fifth in the English-speaking world (http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/overall.asp). If anything, I think the opposite is true- this strengthens his claim. But then again, who really cares?

Anonymous

While he may use his terminology a bit loosely, I think he does make a solid point. Philosophy really seems to be centered around arguing over ambiguous, abstract ideas without any scientific input. I still don't understand why to this day philosophers worship Plato's theory of forms. Also, I wouldn't dismiss the University of Pittsburgh as a bad philosophy program, especially considering it's philosophy graduate program is ranked fifth in the English-speaking world (http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/overall.asp). If anything, I think the opposite is true- this strengthens his claim. But then again, who really cares?

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