God might be dead, but Philosophy is suffocating.
by Richard Mcallister
When I say Philosophy is dying, I don’t mean that it is becoming any less important, but rather that it is being strangled by the current ridiculing it receives from the general populace, it is being drained of life. If I could recall the times people have asked me whether all I do is “sit in a room and think about stuff, like existence and God” for my course…..well I’d have a bloody good memory. It’s not just insulting, it’s pure ignorance. I don’t ask of a Sports science student ‘Do you just like, sit on a football field and drink protein shake and stuff?’ because I understand that most if not all subjects studied at degree level involve some form of in depth analysis and at least a smidgen of intelligence to comprehend. But it’s not a case of suggesting that my course is any harder than the one somebody else might study (far from it), rather it feels like philosophy is a novelty now, it has become the really pissed uncle at a family wedding or choosing to ride on the Manchester tour bus even though you know the only sights you’ll see are the shit weather and horrible 1970’s architecture.
So is Philosophy important now? In my opinion yes, it is. It could be said that without philosophy there would be no mathematics, there would be no evolving moral direction and the sciences would be non-existent. I do not speak of philosophy as the subject in itself but rather the practice of philosophising, the act of questioning and theorising to discover truth and truth alone. So why has it become this decrepit pink elephant in the room. People vomit such vacuous crap as ‘What kind of a job will you get with that degree?’ or ‘Only old people do philosophy’. Who are these people that they know nothing of the true value in such subjects as the humanities? They are the people that laughed at the madman in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, they are the people who ridiculed Galileo when he suggested that the Earth was not the centre of our solar system.
I know these accusations might sound rather exaggerated but when you think about it, what is so different? The philosopher tries to encourage contemplation and questioning, and these degradations do naught but discourage ‘deep’ thought that goes beyond the next game of Call of Duty.
So please, I beg of you, next time you encounter somebody who is studying philosophy, don’t roll your eyes at them and ask whether the chair still exists when nobody can see it, instead accept their vocation as a life choice and a passion….a serious vocation that should be respected, just like I respect your choice to do events management or sports nutrition, okay?
A man by the second name Alfred Whitehead said that ‘All Philosophy is a footnote to Plato’ so I’ll leave you with a thought from dear old Plato:
“Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught falsehoods in school. And the person that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and fool.” (c.427 – 347 BC)
(I must apologise for the angry tone of this post; It is something that has irked me for some time now.)