I have long considered myself a bit of a philosopher; in fact, for most if not all of Da Blog’s existence, philosophy was my main plan for my future, despite misgivings, hopes for Da Blog itself, and dabbling in other areas. However, I am not a philosophy major in college, because I find what is currently called “philosophy” to be too esoteric and ivory-tower, and overly focused on irrelevant and purely hypothetical questions.
Philosophy is not merely concerned with such esoteric speculations. I consider philosophy to be of the greatest importance for unpacking the critical questions of human nature. Philosophy has long been concerned with building a framework with which to understand human behavior. The conclusions reached have not always been entirely accurate – in particular often denigrating or denying the social aspect of human life – but it has been a common and constant theme in philosophy since at least the days of Plato’s Republic.
That philosophy has largely abandoned this ground, and made itself irrelevant and laughable to the extent that it has stayed, is quite unfortunate, because in my view, there is no question more important. For all that has been said about the wonder of the universe, the promise of technology, the hunt for the Higgs boson, and all the other myriad triumphs of the physical sciences, it is the simple question of human nature that has had and will have the biggest impact on the course of history, because it is, ultimately, humanity that sets that course.
Why are politicians so corrupt? Why are corporations so ruthlessly greedy? How come we can’t feed everyone? How come we aren’t doing anything about global warming? Why do wars happen? Where does religion come from? Where does evil come from? And most importantly, how can we fix all of the above?* The answers to these questions, and many more besides, are rooted in an understanding of how humans actually work and behave, and why. They are the most important questions for our modern world, not questions of the physical sciences or metaphysics.
(*Obviously, this question assumes that religion is something to be fixed, which you may disagree with.)
I’m currently taking a sociology class that has an assignment to write blog posts connecting current events to the numerous social theories developed over the years about the modern world. It’s a project that quite frankly, I should have started early last month, but I haven’t yet shaken my procrastination issues; I’ll be releasing two posts a week to compensate. (After my numerous attempts to compensate for the lack of an Internet connection at home were a minor theme of Da Blog for the first four years of its existence, someone from Comcast convinced my mom to finally get an Internet connection at the worst possible time, when my inability to complete even my modest class schedule is putting a severe damper on my finances.) However, I may not stop when I’ve completed the obligations of the assignment; I may continue the project indefinitely into the future, as a regular feature on Da Blog. In fact, this project may well be the start of something that becomes the most important part of MorganWick.com in the future.
As a storage place for the new project as well as a way to organize all the posts related to it in one place, I’ll be introducing a new category to Da Blog, “Understanding the News”. The category will start out a subcategory to “My Comments on the News”, but I may move it to the “Philosophy” category if I feel the need to (the fact that this very post isn’t a good fit to “My Comments on the News” may be a sign I may need to move it). It’s not the best of names, but I hope it gets across the notion that this project is about finding a better understanding of why the world is the way it is, and the forces behind everything that happens in the world that might not be obvious.
2 thoughts on “Understanding the News: Introduction”
How has philosophy made itself irrelevant to the world of today? I don’t understand you here – neither do I have any idea of the current state of philosophy in relation to the current world, but I want to understand your point of view regarding its given lack of importance today. (Maybe you’ve changed your mind since then, all the same, it’s been four years.) I’m not misconstruing you as saying it’s inapplicable today, I’m referring to the institution of philosophy.