Aren’t we all philosophers?
Philosophy can literally be defined as the “love of wisdom” since this is how it translates. Philo means love and sophia means wisdom. The word “wisdom” tends to conjure images of old bearded man confidently, calmly and benevolently spouting important sounding statements about “deep” questions. At least that’s my experience. I think it is generally viewed as a positive trait worth acquiring, eventually, given that it is so often expected to be something reserved for the old.
Wikipedia says that “wisdom is an ideal that has been celebrated since antiquity as the knowledge needed to live a good life”. Who doesn’t want to lead a good life? And indeed who doesn’t want to appear wise, regardless of whether they do lead a good life?
Every now and then I think all of us ask certain questions which go beyond the mere trivialities of life (fashionable clothing, tasty foods, small talk, gossip, partying, you name it). We ask what we perceive as “big” questions like “what’s the whole point of life” or “what happens after we die” or “why is anything true or false”… We see these questions as “big”, I would presume, mostly because they are hard to answer.
Ultimately, I think most of us form some kind of a stance on these questions. Deep down we probably know that we don’t know much about them, but if someone was to ask us what we think chances are we’ll blurt out some sort of a positive answer. Sometimes what we answer will be what we perceive the social circle we’re in wants us to answer (unfortunately, in my opinion, conformism is a terrible thing), but sometimes we’ll answer honestly without paying much attention to the fact that by doing so we are actually taking a philosophical position.
So on some levels we might all be philosophers to a certain extent, to the extent to which we ask big questions, think about them and take positions. This is enough to form a basis for further growth of our understanding and our wisdom. Unfortunately the society we are living in does not tend to foster building upon that much further. Everyone seems to be obsessed with control and regulation of each other where too much independent thought, indeed independent philosophy, is not only criticized, but sometimes violently repressed.
The dangerous result of that is a void being created in individual’s understanding of the world around as (s)he continues to experience it. This void, in absence of actively practiced philosophy and pursuit of truth and wisdom is instead filled by random superstition, mythologies or just utter nihilism (no point to anything, no truth.. we may as well kill ourselves where we stand, but why do it.. at least we can get wasted every weekend or enjoy those pitiful little pleasures.. you get the picture).
But that isn’t quite the best we can do as human beings isn’t it? Can’t anyone feel that there is a potential for so much more? My hope is to help build a new age of enlightenment with those who are already on the job so that one day every human being on Earth is a philosopher whose capacity to reason matches or exceeds the greatest philosophers in history. We can do that.
And just think of the consequences. The sole reason for the existence of ANY problem or any evil that exists in the world is nothing more than a lack of knowledge. Philosophy, combined with science, is the absolute fundamental practice to achieving knowledge.