When does an interest in philosophy become vulgar conceptual consumption?

Aristotle considered contemplation/philosophy an end in itself, but was he just an addict to conceptual consumption?

Perhaps the dopamine rush due to the expectation of finding a magical conceptual key to an undefined treasure kept him hooked? (Hence his praise of ‘wonder’, which is the curiosity-interest-expectancy dopamine system in disguise). It is clear that many philosophers engage with superficial and artificial problems merely to mentally masturbate, because it feels good.

Philosophy must serve an end and that end is life. Don’t get hooked on the drug of wonder and forsake it for everything else.

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8 Responses to “When does an interest in philosophy become vulgar conceptual consumption?”

  1. one billion daleks Says:

    “Philosophy must serve an end and that end is life.”

    Your insistence that Philosophy must serve an end is extraordinary!

    And your assertion that that end should be life is an imposition of your own making, and in the broader context, a completely false assumption on your part.

  2. beholdtheman Says:

    Would you care to expand on your objection?

    From an evolutionary viewpoint, philosophy – or rather the basis of it, curiosity – has served an end, which is life. There are good evolutionary explanations as to why we are naturally curious and ask questions.

    Being philosophical does serve life today, although not as much as I believe it ought. My reasons for believing this are pragmatic. Philosophy as a discipline has no place in the humanities department, or on the streets, if it does not serve human life.

    You seem to think that philosophy is purely an engagement of aesthetic existence. Speculative philosophy is part of the aesthetic realm, but other types of philosophy are not; these reside in the ethical and spiritual realms.

    Philosophy is an engagement undertaken by intentional human beings. Such beings act with ends in mind, with purpose. Therefore, philosophy must serve an end. I don’t think this syllogism is extraordinary.

  3. one billion daleks Says:

    You know, there is a kind of amusing irony in your blog … you berate certain forms of philosophical enquiry for failing to attend to (what you see) as it’s primary directive, to “serve life”, to figure out ways of “living better”.

    You then proceed to ‘philosophise’ about this state-of-affairs yourself, that “philosophy that does not serve life is of little use.” Now, that’s a philosophical assertion in itself, right there!

    So maybe you could try applying your own criteria for what constitutes worthwhile philosophical endeavour to your own ruminations. Because frankly, your observation that “philosophy that does not serve life is of little use” – as a philosophical insight – has, as far as I can tell, utterly failed to improve the quality of life for anyone.

    In fact, personally speaking, nothing you have said so far about Philosophy has improved my Life at all. As far as helping me to live better, I have to say that to date, your entire philosophical blog has been a total failure – an utter waste of my time.

    And as such, you appear to be guilty of the very charge you level at others – insofar as you sit in front of your keyboard abstractly philosophising about abstract philosophies, not saying a word about how to live better!

    So, I think it’s about time you stopped this navel-gazing, and started posting stuff that actually improves my life. Right now!

    OK then,
    All The Best!

  4. beholdtheman Says:

    If it were not for my criticism would you be demanding of me such philosophy pertinent to life? I think not, so my criticism has been of use. It has served its purpose in creating a hunger for real philosophy. It has pointed you away from the wrong path of speculative philosophy. (I hope).

    It is hard for me to be edifiying and constructive when I am at the same time being critical of others. It can be done, of course, and perhaps more examples of life-pertinent philosophy would not only be beneficial to readers, but also lend my criticism more weight.

    That said, I have been more critical than usual in my latest posts. I think you will find some constructive posts scattered around the blog (I am not consistent in what I write about). Many of the posts on happiness, existentialism and the meaning of life, for example, may speak to you, if you are open to them.

    Thanks for the criticism, it is helpful.

  5. one billion daleks Says:

    Quote: “If it were not for my criticism would you be demanding of me such philosophy pertinent to life?”

    Well actually, my ‘demand’ was entirely tongue-in-cheek … I don’t require a philosophy pertinent to life, as I already have one and it works darned well! 🙂

    Nor do I “have a hunger for real philosophy” as you put it, because there’s no such thing – Philosophy is about Mind, not about reality!

    You seek a philosophy that is “pertinent to life”, but my point was that Philosophy is not about that. As I mentioned earlier, if you’ve got food, shelter, and security, there’s not much more life can offer you really – except amusing diversions (like blogging!). As I stated, once physical well-being has been established the Mind turns it’s attention to it’s own well-being – and that is what Philosophy is about. It has nothing to do with Life per se.

    For example, to what extent have all these philosophical posts of yours improved your Life so far …?
    In other words, in what tangible way has your happiness level increased since you made your first post …?
    If your happiness hasn’t increased in any meaningful and persistent way as a result of all this blogging, then aren’t all these philosophical musings of yours as ineffectual as the ones you criticise …? You are doing the very thing that you condemn others for … ruminating about things, to no effect.

    There are plenty of happy people in the world who get along just fine without philosophy, because Philosophy is not about how to be happy (or “serving life” as you put it). It is about Mind, and that’s got nothing to do with Life, or happiness.

    All The Best!

  6. beholdtheman Says:

    In regards to general wellbeing, you best be referring to zombies, not humans. From your list (food, shelter, security) you forgot the need to mate, be part of a family and live in complex, cooperative societies with others. The mind is needed for all these activities, I don’t see how you can divorce it. Wellbeing for humans must include mental aspects. For example, generally suicides don’t occur due to lack of food, shelter and security.

    What has philosophy done for me? (The blogging is only one aspect). Well it hasn’t helped me tangibly in terms of increasing the size of my wallet, or gifting me a larger penis (unforunately), but here’s just a few things it has done:

    – It has fine-tuned my ‘bullshit detector’, which is important because it prevents you from being taken on a ride by others
    – It has helped me define who am I and what I will be in relation to the rest of society
    – It has provided consolation at times
    – It has assisted me in making many important life decisions, through considering broader implications of my action
    – It has increased my happiness by seeing through the myths that would prevent it
    – It has helped me appreciate life more

  7. one billion daleks Says:

    Well, I can’t respond to that because it would entail revealing personal details, something that I am disinclined to do. Suffice to say, there are actually all manner of lifestyles that exclude elements that you apparently deem essential. But your notions of what is necessary for general well-being seem to be culturally and biologically defined, and thus consistent with your aspirations that philosophy busy itself about the task of improving life. Fair enough.

    For myself, I can’t think of any way that I would change my life, it is exactly the way I want it. So because I am already delighted with every aspect of my life, your kind of philosophy would be surplus to requirements, and utterly useless to me.

    Good Luck with your endeavours!

  8. beholdtheman Says:

    Congratulations. I hope your happiness came from wanting what you have, not getting what you wanted.

    If the former, you have a good philosophy for life, one worth sharing and affirming.

    I am cynical of your claims however. You have talked the language of “wants”, where before you only talked of three basic needs. If I were to take you at your word, I would expect that I’d never see you wanting anything you didn’t already have — not even the latest Dr Who DVD box-set.

    I know people who say ‘God loves me and that is all that matters’, but they all too soon forget such a myth, and their own words and actions betray it. It is good that they have such sentiments, but all too sad that they are fleeting.

    I hope that the delight in your life remains constant.

    I do believe persistent states of happiness are possible, but that it requires training and meditation, and above all, philosophising. I think that Buddhist Monks are a good example of this.

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