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Living Philosophy

November 15, 2017

Philosophy can be very dangerous when it imagines it is only engaging in hypothetical scenarios and detached thought experiments. Yes, philosophers need to have some distance from certain practical affairs and social and cultural values in order to mount a critique of them from a more encompassing perspective. And it is natural as a result of this often philosophers will make the error of misunderstanding concrete events and experiences, as they are thinking on a more abstract level. But the danger is much greater when philosophers promote specific socially contextual agendas, while trying to hide behind the status of being neutral.

We have seen the dangers of this in many eras throughout history. In our current era we have it in areas such as the philosophy of mind and morality and free will. Quite nonchalantly many a philosopher will deny free will, and deny the efficacy of, or even sometimes the existence of, consciousness. Without realising the social ramifications were these truths to be enforced in society. If we have no free will, no effective consciousness, then we have no control over our own bodies. If we do not have this, then individuals are not sovereign authors of their actions, if we are not authors of our actions then there can be no such thing as democracy and we are in no position to make moral decisions at all about the life of ourselves, our children and our community. They don’t seem to realise the implications of their seemingly innocent ontological speculations. And that is because they are too naive, or too disingenuous, to even acknowledge they are engaging in ontological speculations. They falsely imagine they are just describing things, while all the while value judgments leak in. The more they deny their own personal biases, the more their personal biases influence the views they promote and espouse.

Philosophers need to become much more aware of what is at stake here. They need to stop being pawns for insidious social agendas. In society, belief and reality are not so simply separated, as the rabid atheists would have us think. Belief can influence the reality we come to accept. If we believe we have no free will, we may well make it the case. But it won’t be because it was a natural fact about us, shown by rational argument. It will be because we are manipulated into a new kind of oligarchal servitude. The elite few will remain with free will and we will be left resigned to our fate as mental slaves. The human story is an ever developing narrative, it is a dynamic unfolding plot. A philosophical approach dedicated to describing neutrally what “is”, will always be restricted to talking about the dead past and scratching its head as to the absence of life there.

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