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Thursday, November 3, 2022

What is a philosopher?

 What is a philosopher?

                                                Written by Ryan Ventriloquist

It has become commonplace in the field of philosophy to focus on an area of specialization, honing in on one specific element of the vast philosophical terrain, and accounting for that as the philosophical enterprise. In what way do we understand philosophy upon reaching learned knowledge of epistemology and ontology when we lack a high level of understanding in ethics? How could we assert to be philosophically acute when we know ethics and science of mind, but lack in depth of understanding of ontology and epistemology? To know philosophy, one needs to have a profound grasp on how the whole hangs together. Alfred North Whitehead maintains, “Philosophy is the endeavor to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted.” This is essential to do, because all of our moments in experience fundamentally hinge on our self-constructed philosophical viewpoints on life. Philosophy is a pressing matter indeed. As Lewis Vaughn writes at the beginning of his book, Philosophy Here and Now: Powerful Ideas in Everyday Life, “philosophy is, well, here and now—that is, relevant and current.” Just imagine all the ways our interpretive meanings of moments, events, relationships, religion, morality—the broad spectrum of experience—affect every moment we are transacting with the lifeworld—that is, always. In order to harness experience, to understand the nuanced, integral, and in depth realm of human nature, one needs to see her way around the broad spectrum of existence in a philosophical manner.

            Consider: I could be reflecting on the way a child laughs while I see him flying a kite along the beach and he sees seagulls flying above the kite. In order to grasp this experience, I have an understanding of what a human being is, comprehend human development to make sense of the phase of development the child is in, am aware of the emotion of humor to see what constitutes the laughter, reflect insightfully on how the East impacts the West in order to base my understanding of the kite, go through a profound background in Biblical knowledge to order my experience of the beach, grasp fine biological categories and distinction to make sense of the seagull—and with all this integrate it into an entire philosophical framework for understanding existence which generally functions pre-cognitively in ordering and refining experience. The background of my culture affects this experience, the way I was raised, the religion I subscribe to, my social network, etc., and—first and foremost—how I make sense of these things—all of this goes into that integration toward ordering and refining experience. In order to truly be called a philosopher, I must know my way around all these considerations.

            This goes with all experience. The philosopher carries in her handbag a holistic approach to understanding and making sense of experience. Literally, each moment we are living, we have an entire history of ideas, thoughts, experiences, relationships, and each of these contributes to what it is with what we are confronted. The philosopher pins these all down and brackets them to a well-constructed, nuanced whole in order to properly make sense of what comes their way. To understand epistemology without understanding ethics is not to be a philosopher. It is to be an epistemologists. To understand metaphysics without understanding logic is not to be a philosopher, it is to be a metaphysician. So on. A philosopher understands all these things, puts them together, arranges experience, and dwells in enlightenment.

Mullsay dialogue—

Thank you for reading what I have shared with you here in this publication. I am sincerely grateful for your engagement in this democratic exchange of which I am presiding over. I ask you to take some concerted time to mull over this piece of writing and then to say your thoughts by responding to the following prompts (hence, Mullsay the Zine). And with as much earnestness and yearning, I ask you to read through carefully and consider the thoughts, ideas, affect, desires, concerns, and considerations of the various people who also put forth comments. If you have input you wish to offer that is not related to what I guide you through in prompts, I invite you to share it in the comments section that is located below the prompts. Please keep in mind, in democratic dialogue, it is of essential importance to be respectful and kind, thoughtful and peace-oriented.

What does philosophy mean?

What does it mean to be a philosopher?

What are some ways one can open up the world of philosophy?

How has philosophy impacted your day-to-day affairs?

by Ryan Ventriloquist

And I invite you to mull over additional thoughts related to this essay and offer your input in the comments section below.

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