Why do thinkers think? Why do we learn? Is a PhD in philosophy just a tool to continue the conveyor belt of manufactured thinkers who will then go on to fulfill their roll? Is it all just debate with no outcome? There is an ultimate purpose to philosophy and that’s to inspire action.
I’ve been listening to talks by Manly P. Hall and recently across ‘Worlds in Transition’, a collection which includes a seminar of the same title as this post. Many of my thoughts regarding philosophy of today were reflected in his words and I found myself better understanding my opinions on centrism. He spoke of debate in philosophy become useless, as we assign schools of thought to various historical figures and then create endless discourse which accomplishes nothing.
We can’t use philosophy to avoid responsibility. Our thoughts and opinions must become active agents in our life and our actions. They must become a drive which propels us forward in innovation and integration. Philosophy should make us more empathic, able to better handle crisis, and equip us with the inner tools needed to understand and improve any situation.
History and society forces us to prescribe to doctrines, and has also forced radicalization. Due to the existence of a radical right wing political view, my morals and values mean I’m radically left. True immoral violence is inaction and silence in the face of institutional corruption and oppression. These are how my values manifest in my life.
When I was younger I would argue and debate about politics, economics, human rights, etc for hours at a time and waste energy on people who weren’t at the time equipped to converse effectively, productively. Generally I don’t debate at all these days. I’d rather convince through my actions and how my values affect my life. If someone says something ignorant in a conversation I will briefly educate but I know when to stop, I can sense when I’m not equipped to present my case in a way they can empathize with.
Philosophy isn’t about debate. We think for ourselves, we learn, and we build inner strength. Something Hall mentioned was that practicality with out philosophy will go nowhere, but the same can be said for philosophy without practicality. Regurgitating the words of others will only get you so far and cannot fully heal you inside. You can agree with them and learn from them, but you must create that strength yourself and let it create change in your life. I research philosophy to better understand my own opinions, not to find truth. I have my own truth. This talk by Hall inspired me to build upon my own thoughts and better articulate vague notions, but it’s easy to begin blindly following someone. I take note when someone I’m reading or listening to presents something I don’t agree with because this is also a lesson in better understanding myself.
As long as I’ve trusted my values and the sense in certain thoughts, my life has improved and my so has my hope for becoming an agent for change. Dreams I had as a child are become reality all around me. I never thought what I’ve achieved or set up for myself could ever be possible but I’m learning to trust myself.
Philosophy beyond doctrine is responsibility, open mindedness, active effect, and building a strong inner self. I hope that people interested in philosophy will learn to live this way in an age where social media convolutes opinion. Philosophy is not passed from one to another but instead comes from within.