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What Is a Philosopher? - NY Times

From: Bill M.
Sent on: Monday, June 28, 2010 2:40 AM

What Is a Philosopher?
...  the philosopher neither sees nor hears the so-called unwritten laws of the city, that is, the mores and conventions that govern public life. The philosopher shows no respect for rank and inherited privilege and is unaware of anyone?s high or low birth. It also does not occur to the philosopher to join a political club or a private party.   ... the philosopher?s body alone dwells within the city?s walls. In thought, they are elsewhere.
This all sounds dreamy, but it isn?t. Philosophy should come with the kind of health warning one finds on packs of European cigarettes: PHILOSOPHY KILLS.
Lost in the Clouds?
(Commentary on "What Is a Philosopher?"
... to wonder about philosophical issues is an occupational hazard of being human in a way in which wondering about falling balls is not.
... Philosophy is the only activity such that to pursue questions about the nature of that activity is to engage in it.  We can certainly ask what we are about when doing mathematics or biology or history ? but to ask those questions is no longer to do mathematics or biology or history.  One cannot, however, reflect on the nature of philosophy without doing philosophy.
... Plutarch thought philosophy should be taught at dinner parties. It should be taught through literature, or written in letters giving advice to friends. Good philosophy does not occur in isolation; it is about friendship, inherently social and shared.  ... In the Plutarchan sense, friendship, parties and even wine, are not trivial; and while philosophy may indeed be difficult, we shouldn?t forget that it should be fun.
Bill Meacham
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