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Philosophy may very well hold the honor of being the most misunderstood, ridiculed, despised, abused, or simply ignored field of inquiry. The irony is astounding, therefore, when we realize that almost everyone acts like a philosopher every time they attempt to defend their views. Indeed, almost everyone ends up believing that they are right and their opponents are wrong, meaning that they apparently believe that they are the better philosophers. Since relatively few people even know how to evaluate the validity of an argument, wouldn’t it make sense to make philosophy a priority in education?

 

4 Comments

  • Hi John. I love your blog. And I like the idea of bringing philosophy into education. I wonder how we would do this, though. When I think back to my grade school teachers, I don’t see one sage in the whole bunch. And if you say that teachers ought to be philosophers, then we have to consider how they would be chosen. What standard would be used, and who is qualified to use that standard? This would imply that the school boards would have to be run by philosophers, too. And this means that the people who hire THEM would have to be philosophers, and so on. We’d end up with the need for a whole society of philosophers. It’s a great vision, but how can we make it happen? I ponder this question from time to time. It’s a chicken-egg dilemma. We have to reform education in order to change society, but we have to change society in order to reform education. Do you see a way out of this problem?

    • We can study philosophy at many universities (and sometimes even in grade school), but that is hardly sufficient for the pursuit of a profoundly meaningful life. One of the fundamental problems is that the word “philosophy” has essentially been stripped of its original meaning, which was “the love of wisdom”. Today, far too many academic philosophers tend to dismiss the words “love” and “wisdom” as archaic naivety, and our educational system in general can hardly be said to inspire our search for truth and beauty.

      While it is important to try to restore this ancient view of philosophy, I personally am not aiming to reform such a broken educational system, for any attempt at such reformation would be limited by the starting assumptions of this system. Perhaps we simply need more alternative approaches to education that retain
      whatever good was found in the traditional system while simultaneously transcending it, in a similar way to how quantum mechanics reaches beyond the limitations of classical physics while also sharing much of its metaphysical foundations.

      It is important for us to remember that just because a noble goal may seem unachievable in its totality, such as trying to restore the love of wisdom in education, we should not be deterred in our resolve to achieve the ideal as closely as possible. It is surely noble to aim for noble goals, despite our apparent inability to
      achieve them.

  • John Wong says:

    We had 600 years of Axial Age of the Zarathustra, the authors of the Upanishads, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Socrates/Plato/Aristotle and many others starting in 800 BC. This period gave birth to both the main religions of the world as well as the discipline of philosophy. It was like the Cambrian explosion of ideas which became the foundation of our human civilization.

    In Asia, India had their Golden Age from the 3rd to 6th century CE and China had its Golden Age from 600 – 1600 CE.

    In the Middle East, we had 500 years of the Islamic Golden Age starting the mid-eighth century until the conquest of the Mongols, as Europe was enveloped in the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Europe finally sprung back and we had 300 years of Renaissance starting in the 14th century. This laid the foundations for the next great leap in scientific discoveries.

    This would be the (Golden) Age of Reason in the Scientific Enlightenment period, lasting 150 years starting in the mid-16th century. Copernicanism in its various forms generally displaced religion and philosophy as the arbiter of truth.

    The American Republic is now firmly established and growing fast and strong. Along with Western Europe, the next 100 years of Capitalistic/Imperialistic Modernism tries to “disconnect Romanticism from its roots in idealism in order to transport it inside empiricism”. In art, at least, Modernism explicitly rejects the ideology of realism.

    Finally, in the last 100 years of Post-Modernism and contemporary Western society, we have had the influence of quantum physics turning classical science upside down in many aspects. Both in science and in culture, the post-modernists try to deconstruct presuppositions, ideological underpinnings, hierarchical values, and frames of reference of the past. This includes Post-structuralism, which rejects reductionism and Epiphenomenalism and the idea that cause-and-effect relationships are top-down or bottom-up.

    With so much hype in the Mayan Calendar and other ancient prophecies, everyone was waiting for a Global Transformation of Consciousness in 2012. In the last 50 years, there had been many mini-events which pointed to this Age of Aquarius where there would be peace and harmony in the world. However, like the Y2K bug, it did not materialize, or at least not in a big chunk as expected by so many. Nevertheless, I think sooner or later this will happen when there is a critical mass of a unity consciousness paradigm displacing the
existing paradigm of duality consciousness. With all this connectivity,
it would become the world’s first Global Golden Age.

    Please note that these dates are approximate and there are overlaps in the general trend of thinking and articulation.

    As one can see, sometimes things come back full circle, but put into a higher light and vibration. Despite the ups and downs in human societies, there is a general trend towards order rather than entropy. Even if philosophy is put off to the side in the mad rush for scientific breakthrough, modernization, and economics, it can never be too far away as it is bounded in the fabric of the universe and the nature of human evolution.

    John Wong

  • Mwalimujohn says:

    Validation of argument is certainly a necessary tool or means of apprehending truth but it should not itself be mistaken for Wisdom. There have been philosophers, and there still are, whose skills of rational argument have falsely been counted as Wisdom only to lead generations astray. By asserting that real philosophy is ‘love of wisdom’ let it be remembered that Sophia is feminine. In Ancient Hebrew Tradition she was known as The Great Lady, the voice behind the Book of Proverbs, who became identified as the ruach ha qodesh or Holy Spirit. Beauty, Truth, Goodness and Love are the Great Lady’s trademarks and the essence of real education. Hopefully she will soon return to lead us into a new age of enlightenment.

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