As a follow-up to the meeting on "Enlightenment" (Feb. 22 (https://www.meetup.com/The-San-Diego-Philosophers-Roundtable/events/246920626/)) as well as to the one on life's challenges (Mar. 8 (https://www.meetup.com/The-San-Diego-Philosophers-Roundtable/events/248213486/)), let us practice contemplating (Mar. 1 (https://www.meetup.com/The-San-Diego-Philosophers-Roundtable/events/248184128/), Mar. 15 (https://www.meetup.com/The-San-Diego-Philosophers-Roundtable/events/248513726/)) systematically on the role of philosophy in our lives.
If knowledge of reality is for the sake of acting in the world, then philosophy as a kind of knowledge offers us the broadest kind of guidance for living on earth. If true, this statement is not well understood by most of mankind. Worse, it is nowadays taken as ludicrously false by most contemporary philosophers and their students. To them, philosophy is a sort of word game unrelated to reality. So which is it? Is it true? Or is it false?
The problem in making this assessment about philosophy is that the issue isn't philosophical but metaphilosophical. This means that one has to establish initially the proper protocols for acquiring the evidence pro and con, discovering the methods of evaluation, and grounding the criteria of assessment. All these preliminaries are necessary before an answer, pro or con, can be ascertained.
Add to that problem are two further problems of determining what philosophy is. First, what is philosophy as distinguished from, say, physics, biology, sociology, etc.? Second, although these named sciences are now proper sciences, there were many pseudosciences that vied historically for the status of proper knowledge. Likewise, there are quite a number of systems and fragments of pseudophilosophy in our times that claim to be philosophy. Like zombies, these false doctrines keep popping out to trip up the philosophical newbies and unawares.
Thus, it is not too outlandish to say that the typical, average person in society has a dim view of what philosophy is; and that whatever he holds as "philosophy" may be for the most part pseudophilosophy.
So the average discussion in philosophy is taken typically as "mental masturbation" and nothing more. One enters into the discussion whenever one has nothing else to do; one debates on a topic from five to ten conflicting points of view; and then one leaves the conversation afterward unimpacted by what transpired, but confident that it was time well spent; and next time, if there's a next time, one engages again in the same topic but serenely from an opposite point of view, with no reference whatsoever to the prior discussion. Mental masturbation, indeed.
This upcoming unaverage meeting of ours will not resolve what is or isn't philosophy, nor will it resolve the metaphilosophical problem. For this meeting, I am going to take for granted that the thesis posed at the top is true, and I propose actually to answer an obscure but more interesting question: Supposing there be a philosophy (i.e., a knowledge of reality about what is and about life and its problems), what guidance can it possibly offer?
For empirical data, let us bring in every philosophical system we know, everything concerning philosophy, including everything tangentially related to philosophy. Bring in as well the pseudophilosophies that are found everywhere. From all these attempts at philosophy, can we answer once and for all the question: Does philosophy provide guidance and of what kind?
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By the way, we will start at 7 p.m. even though the schedule says 6:45 to account for the longer food-ordering lines. See you then.
[Pic: A compass providing navigational guidance (found here (https://danverspublicschools.org/holten-richmond/guidance/)).]