Philosophy, that frigid space

My friend-who-used-to-be-a-disciple is much more complex than painted by my dismissively broad brush yesterday. He would tell you that, in spite of the heart attack, his experience was valuable, and that he still believes his guru has access to a higher level of understanding.

He’s still searching, and this deep curiosity is what draws people to him. But I’m still angry at his guru, because I believe those Point Outs went right into my friend’s heart.

When I got to college I discovered philosophy. I couldn’t believe all these guys had been thinking for all these years about the same things I’d been wondering about. And, by the way, they were all guys. Camille Paglia has an interesting explanation for this:

I feel women in general are less comfortable than men in inhabiting a highly austere, cold, analytical space, such as the one which philosophy involves. Women as a whole – and there are obvious exceptions – are more drawn to practical, personal matters. It is not that they inherently lack a talent or aptitude for philosophy or higher mathematics, but rather that they are more unwilling than men to devote their lives to a frigid space from which the natural and the human have been eliminated.

That’s pretty funny. But I digress. My point was going to be that, when I discovered all those male philosophers hadn’t ever solved the problem of the meaning of life, I gave up on philosophy in favor of psychology. Much more practical and personal – yes, thank you Camille.

When my true-atheist-friend was twelve she decided that dead is dead, and there wasn’t any point in thinking any more about why we’re here or why we die. Funny thing, though – she majored in philosophy.

Humanists believe the same: since we can’t ever know anything beyond our own existence, we shouldn’t waste time coming up with supernatural explanations. They believe in putting all their energy into this life, seeking to be a good person and making the world a better place.

I like this a lot, but the humanist speaker I learned this from seemed just a bit too earnest, and, I have to admit, kind of boring.

I’m drawn to those who seek (and philosophy majors).

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2 Responses to Philosophy, that frigid space

  1. Tina says:

    Oh good, I’m in the right category! Eternally!

    Have you read Alexander McCall Smith? He wrote novels about Africa where he lived for a while, and is now in Edinborough, writing novels…he says his interest is “moral philosophy.” One of his series of novels has a protagonist named Isabel Dalhousie, who is a philosopher and editor of a philosophy magazine. I am listening to them on CD while I paint.

  2. Curtis says:

    There are some of us who have “felt something” all their lives. First there’s ignorance of the feelings; then, around adolescence, denial of the feelings takes over. This stage simply doesn’t happen if you live in India, I understand. Funny about that. Then you have kids and strange stuff starts happening that makes you question the denial. Then the feelings start to coalesce into some kind of logic and you become too certain. This was the guru stage. Finally uncertainty again, though no longer denial of the reality of the feelings, and this leads to a weirdly consistent sense of peace. Not being blissed out; that’s ridiculous, but something like the feeling of being taken care of. The best thing I learned from the guru was to take reality seriously and be guided by it.

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