April 07, 2012

Flip the Script

Popular invitations to philosophy are mostly lame.  They cajole the reader with the view that ‘everyone is a philosopher’ and propose to build on everyday capacities.  They also announce that the goal of philosophy is something like ‘the good life’ or ‘the acquisition of wisdom'.  As one trained in academic philosophy, it all sounds lazy to me. 
I think that philosophy is hard work that most people will never do very well.  I also disagree about the aims.  ‘Philosophy’ may mean ‘lover of wisdom’ but the discipline is about evaluating competing claims by making explicit what they respectively imply.  This is important because there is still too much superstition, violence and degradation in the world.  How can we improve things?  It is taken for granted that the world would benefit from change but the question remains, ‘What change, exactly?’   Philosophy helps us understand that superficial changes do nothing to bring about meaningful difference.  If, “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”, we should look right through staging and characters and instead ask about plot.  Changing plot lines is the most fundamental way of changing things; it is game changing.  It is about playing the game to the end and then back to the beginning.
If you want to make a difference, think about ‘flipping the script’. This blog lays out my thoughts on how philosophy can help you contribute to this renewal project.

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