Philosophy as "Special Ed"

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Gary Childress
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Philosophy as "Special Ed"

Post by Gary Childress » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:29 pm

I had a pretty dysfunctional childhood, or at least one that seemed very different from most of my peers who grew up around me. I was exceptionally shy and depressed most of the time. Later I developed repeated psychoses (though I've been largely free of psychoses for a couple years now). As a result of my childhood, I didn't develop much in the way of social bonds early on and I think my brain has developed a sort of (hard wired) feedback loop that keeps me from forming close bonds and almost perpetually depressed.

I sort of attribute my pursuit of philosophy to the fact that I just didn't fit in very well among the majority of my peers. For me philosophy sometimes seems more suited to people who feel lost in the world because there is more drive and need for those of us who feel lost to find answers to the big questions.

But what if you pursue philosophy only to find out that the answers you were looking for only confirm what most of your peers around you already knew? For example, many of my peers went out and pursued careers in practical things like medicine, education, business, social service, etc., and created stable family environments with which to raise the next generation--which seems as it should be.

In a sense sometimes I almost feel like the study of philosophy is (in at least some cases, for some of us) a kind of "special ed" for those of us who were life challenged (or whatever one might call it). It's sort of a humbling thought. It runs against themes I often see--especially in Ancient Hellenistic ethics and German idealism (among many philosophical traditions)--of the "masses" or "herd" being ignorant or mindless "drones" or whatever and philosophers and/or intellectuals being qualitatively superior in whatever respects. I sort of wonder if all that philosophical "snobbery" was little more than a series of attempts to validate political and economic inequities.

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Lacewing
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Re: Philosophy as "Special Ed"

Post by Lacewing » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:46 pm

Gary Childress wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:29 pm
In a sense sometimes I almost feel like the study of philosophy is (in at least some cases, for some of us) a kind of "special ed" for those of us who were life challenged (or whatever one might call it). It's sort of a humbling thought. It runs against themes I often see--especially in Ancient Hellenistic ethics and German idealism (among many philosophical traditions)--of the "masses" or "herd" being ignorant or mindless "drones" or whatever and philosophers and/or intellectuals being qualitatively superior in whatever respects. I sort of wonder if all that philosophical "snobbery" was little more than a series of attempts to validate political and economic inequities.
You ask interesting questions, Gary. I always thought that philosophy must surely appeal to those who like to think about how life and the Universe work... because life and the Universe are so vast and amazing! I don't think there has ever been a time I've not been interested -- although I did not study it academically because I didn't like the way school is inclined to follow in conventional controlled footsteps. Discovering philosophy forums online several years ago, gave me my first experience into a wide range of people... some snobby, some insightful, some quite delusional, and some who don't seem to really care about asking or answering questions for clarity... they just want a platform to talk about their own belief systems, and maybe they're lonely.

It appears to me that it's often not so much an exploration of ideas, as it is a defensive stance to be "right" above all others. Kinda weird... but eye-opening. I've found a way to "bounce off of it" for the purpose of my own exploration, while being entertained too. Sometimes I think I should use more smiley faces to show that I'm not angry... I'm just being rowdy. :-)

The GOOD questions and non-egoic explorations are like treasures when they pop-up in the vast landscape -- they're thrilling and reassuring that there's more to us than fear and madness. :-)

Troll
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Re: Philosophy as "Special Ed"

Post by Troll » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:13 pm

I've been more often scolded by the force of the gigantic popularity of the reverse claim, which crashes against the shore and shatters into pieces like a wave over the mediocre masses of humanity. That philosophy is elitist, practiced largely by elites historically, and that the ordinary hard-handed man worn down by drudgery hasn't the time to learn it is a dissertation often argued. Historically it was more practiced by aristocrats, or by nature's aristocrats, i.e., unusually gifted persons. My experience of non-philosophic people is that they live primarily in a fantasy world. Look at Trump, he put his own lock on the White House bedroom because he believed the menace of the Deep State included the Secret Service, who were there to control those presidents not chosen by the C.I.A.. Such ones live surrounded by people with their head raised into Chem Trails where the most idiotic and excessive delusions pass themselves off as knowledge of the world.

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Greta
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Re: Philosophy as "Special Ed"

Post by Greta » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:30 am

Gary Childress wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:29 pm
But what if you pursue philosophy only to find out that the answers you were looking for only confirm what most of your peers around you already knew? For example, many of my peers went out and pursued careers in practical things like medicine, education, business, social service, etc., and created stable family environments with which to raise the next generation--which seems as it should be.
They were right - they did what they could do, as per their aptitudes and limitations.

You are also doing right - doing whatever you can do. Almost all of us can achieve less than many others and more than many others too.

Life can be incredibly difficult so the bar need not be set so high - we need not be managers, big earners, experts or "pillars of society". Just living in a society in a peaceful and reasonably kindly way is already an achievement that millions of (unfortunate) other people cannot achieve. The basics of being a civilised being are harder than we make them out to be, hence news reports being essentially a list of stressed people experiencing catastrophic impulse control failure.
Gary Childress wrote:In a sense sometimes I almost feel like the study of philosophy is (in at least some cases, for some of us) a kind of "special ed" for those of us who were life challenged (or whatever one might call it).
Alan Watts described himself as an intellectual vagabond, scavenging the things that other people ignore.

Philosophy - or rather simply thinking about stuff, whatever the subject matter of field - has certainly been cognitive therapy for me in retirement, trying to tease out all those riddles of life I never had time to address, especially the big picture. Not easy for a hamster on a treadmill to understand the house it's in - it needs to escape the treadmill and explore. Us too.

The thing is, humans are naturally curious, inclined to explore. What is philosophy but exploration - trying to understand what is going on? Ditto science/external exploration and mysticism/internal exploration. We are curious hominids always trying to better understand our world, or at least the parts that we think are important at the time.

So practical people (often young people trying to establish themselves) tend to run out of curiosity once they know what they think they need while others, like us, are more whimsical like children, wanting to know why this or that is so, even if it's "not important". I personally like watching ants, trying to understand what they are up to. It's no use at all, but ...

Some might be objectively more "right" or "better" than others, depending on one's metrics, but it doesn't matter because variety provides societies with creativity, energy and versatility.

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Arising_uk
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Re: Philosophy as "Special Ed"

Post by Arising_uk » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:46 pm

Troll wrote:…. Look at Trump, he put his own lock on the White House bedroom because he believed the menace of the Deep State included the Secret Service, who were there to control those presidents not chosen by the C.I.A. ...
Please tell me this is not true.

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Eodnhoj7
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Re: Philosophy as "Special Ed"

Post by Eodnhoj7 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:12 pm

Gary Childress wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:29 pm
I had a pretty dysfunctional childhood, or at least one that seemed very different from most of my peers who grew up around me. I was exceptionally shy and depressed most of the time. Later I developed repeated psychoses (though I've been largely free of psychoses for a couple years now). As a result of my childhood, I didn't develop much in the way of social bonds early on and I think my brain has developed a sort of (hard wired) feedback loop that keeps me from forming close bonds and almost perpetually depressed.

I sort of attribute my pursuit of philosophy to the fact that I just didn't fit in very well among the majority of my peers. For me philosophy sometimes seems more suited to people who feel lost in the world because there is more drive and need for those of us who feel lost to find answers to the big questions.

But what if you pursue philosophy only to find out that the answers you were looking for only confirm what most of your peers around you already knew? For example, many of my peers went out and pursued careers in practical things like medicine, education, business, social service, etc., and created stable family environments with which to raise the next generation--which seems as it should be.

In a sense sometimes I almost feel like the study of philosophy is (in at least some cases, for some of us) a kind of "special ed" for those of us who were life challenged (or whatever one might call it). It's sort of a humbling thought. It runs against themes I often see--especially in Ancient Hellenistic ethics and German idealism (among many philosophical traditions)--of the "masses" or "herd" being ignorant or mindless "drones" or whatever and philosophers and/or intellectuals being qualitatively superior in whatever respects. I sort of wonder if all that philosophical "snobbery" was little more than a series of attempts to validate political and economic inequities.
All those people you observe "living there lives" do so under the framework of an idea...even an idea as simple as "pursue pleasure and avoid pain".

The simple truth, if you really look close enough, is that people are people and those with seemingly good lives have serious faults or pains they have to deal with...and vice versa.

Most of the "practical" endeavors people pursue really are just made up. Take for example an inventor. He invents a device to solve "x" problem. Now this problem is not always practical in and of itself. We can see this with digitial technology, the world existed prior to it (and will exist after) and yet we percieve the development of it as "practical". What is practical past getting basic physical needs?

Friends? Family? If you look behind the scenes the simple truth is that the majority of families are at eachother's throats and frankly do not care about eachother. Husbands and wives generally get sick of eachother, kids have little respect for there parents, everyone is going in thier own direction "trying to find themselves" because of an "idea" that a culture constructed...a simple idea does alot of damage...or creation.

If you look close enough, the majority of people are not really doing anything with their lives that can't be torn apart with 2 or 3 questions. Philosophy is natural in the respect that we deem knowledge as a virtue in itself, with experience fundamentally being an element of knowledge but not limited what constitutes knowledge itself.

You have to remember if philosophy is "stupid", one only has to look around at the world and see the true power "stupidity" has in changing it.

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