Bill, the Philosopher
I never took philosophy seriously. To me, people who embraced this foolish pursuit of knowledge were wasting their time. However, something changed two weeks ago. I pondered a new blog topic (why are we here?) and did an internet search. Surprisingly, the question had already been vetted by philosophers. Really? Is that what philosophers do?
I decided to download a few free philosophy books to obtain "light information on the topic." However, I quickly realized I did not know the basics of philosophy. Philosophy is the study of thought and an attempt to answer big questions.
The more I read, the more I wanted to learn. Yet, I ran into a big problem. If you read a philosophy book, they fall into two categories. The first begins with, "in year X, the great philosopher Y said Z." Each chapter has different X, Y, Zs. The second type of book answered "life's biggest questions." Each chapter has a big question, and the answer is the supreme philosopher Y said Z and Y1 said Z1… These books are not philosophy doctrines. Instead, they are chaotic history lessons.
The result of all these different philosophy experts seemed as if there were a distant target and people kept shooting arrows at it. Unfortunately, each philosopher could not clearly see the target and then said, "Look, I hit the center."
Why did so many great visionaries miss? In my opinion, philosophers got hung up on religion, methods of proving their point, and unnecessary/unrelated tangents like mathematics. Plus, they diverged into strange pseudoscience areas like numerology, mythology, astrology, or folklore. Each method did not agree with the others, and there were many holes. The largest was they did not answer my questions.
Granted, I obtained some useful knowledge and could see there was value in further studying the topic. For example, "Until we stop fearing death, we cannot enjoy life." "Don't figure out the right solution. Instead, figure out the right question." A lot of wisdom in those words.
Another area I appreciated was their approach. As in Engineering, philosophers developed a logical problem-solving method. It started by taking a step back, organizing the information, and undergoing a methodical approach. I covered this concept here:
I know we (humans) do not have all the answers, but I had expected that we would be much closer by now. At least there would be a universal philosophy outlook or some commonly accepted ground. Nope. We only have different flawed approaches.
Now, wait. We used to have all kinds of flawed ideas about chemistry, mathematics, language, and history. However, scholars got together and developed universal terms along with official rules. The result got embraced, and users continue to improve their discipline. So why haven't philosophers done the same? Indeed, they could come up with "accepted philosophic principles." Nope. Why? I think the number of differences between the many approaches is too large. I also think the existing philosophic work is not good enough to build a solid foundation.
Are we on the right track? From my reading, I concluded, no. Philosophers got stuck on the false X, Y, Z foundation. I find this circumstance odd because philosophers write thousands of well-researched papers every year. It also is apparent that when somebody tries to come up with something new, they get ridiculed.
What does philosophy have to do with writing? Motivation and logic. Why did Sally do… Understanding philosophy basics improves my ability to define and describe character motivation. Why? To make a proper motivation, an author requires a logical foundation to base their character reasoning. Reading about philosophy is helping me in this area, but I still have a long way to go before considering myself a philosopher. Will reading about this subject improve my blogs? Only time will tell.
You’re the best -Bill
August 25, 2021
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