Wednesday, 27 May 2015


When I was delving into panpsychism recently, it occurred to me to wonder why we have philosophers. I don’t mean little people like me who wander from I think therefore I am to but is that reality? to there’s no point in asking that question until you’re sure you know what ‘reality’ means (which I don’t) and then give up. I mean the hundreds and hundreds of career philosophers stretching back thousands of years, being lauded as the Great Thinkers, being categorized into groups and sub-groups and sub-sub-groups, and then having their images sculpted in marble for the delectation of the acolytes.

It struck me that the whole business of philosophy is just a talking shop around the subject of so what’s it all about? which never, ever comes up with the definitive answer and almost certainly never will.

So do we have them to aid us in our own thought processes, adding depth and complexity and level upon level? I suppose so, but it doesn’t actually get us anywhere, does it? Whether I spend my life reading weighty philosophical tomes, or whether I just muse occasionally on the place of the bumblebee in the greater scheme of things, I’m never going to know what it’s all about. It’s ultimately just for the sake of amusement, and for that you don’t need weighty tomes.

So here’s what I think we should do. I think we should go into all the seats of learning and remove all the philosophy books to a vault. And then we should set up a big stone in each of them, on which is sculpted:

If you want to think about the meaning of life, the universe and everything, then do so. If you don’t, then do something else.

And leave it at that.

(So now I expect I’ll be hailed on with bananas, on each of which will be sculpted: but it is integral to the human condition to want to enquire. OK.)


Madeline said...

Wouldn't it be awful if there were a definitive answer, though? That would mean some of us would be doing it wrong. I'd rather have no one be wrong and no one be right. The universe doesn't care what I do, so I can do what I want.

There seems to be a spectrum of ideas on the meaning of life. On the far end you get the belief that the meaning of life is very concrete, and comes with very specific prescriptions for our behavior (think religion). On the opposite end you get the belief that life is meaningless aside from what meaning we give it ourselves. I think most people are somewhere in the middle.

JJ Beazley said...

Well, my inclination – based on ancient wisdoms and my own musings on the nature of consciousness and reality – is to suspect that existence is a multi-dimensional state with no rules, but still with the prospect of spiritual enhancement. I further suspect that the ultimate enhancement is to achieve oblivion as an individualised being and join (or possible rejoin) the Universal Consciousness.

But of course, since none of this is provable I don’t claim to know it and would never preach it. I suppose that puts me somewhere in the middle. I sometimes wonder, however, whether being somewhere in the middle is the most pointless – albeit most logical – position of all. But I don’t know that either.