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The Point of Philosophy

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What is the point of philosophy? It is not to get rich (clearly). It is not about truth (how do you define truth anyway?), it is not about wielding power, or sharpening the axe, or impressing people, or making a difference. The point of philosophy is to escape.

The personal dialogue you have with yourself is a never ending one. But the ideas you conjure up are not yours. The visions you have of the future are illusions and the memories you have of the past are inaccurate. Your predictions are biased and misinformed.

But you have philosophy. It is there to rescue you from your foolishness, from your presumptuousness. If you think carefully, you can see how you deceive yourself, and this will rescue you from taking those ephemeral urges that spring up during every waking minute less seriously. If you think carefully, then you can be free. That is the philosophy of meditation, but I believe it is the point of philosophy, in general, even if it is not articulated as such by Western philosophers.

The sad thing is when people think that philosophy is a game of wits. For example, a public intellectual tries to win ‘intelligence points’ by pointing out the flaws in another public intellectual’s theory. By doing this, they think they’ve won something. Either they have won fans, or they have proven that they are closer to the truth. But like all victories, it is a pyrrhic one.

This is a way to use argumentation, and thus philosophy, for some exterior aim. To yield it as a weapon. This is not wrong, because philosophy can be useful, such as in law or in business, but it is missing the point.  

The point, if there is one at all, is to be able to locate the errors in your own thinking, it is therapeutic. Philosophy can either relieve you of anxiety, as the Ancient Greeks intended, or it can give you clarity of purpose. And so, it is a form of self-therapy. It is a way of reconciling yourself with how things are, and what you are doing. When there is a disconnect between our actions and what we think, we feel uncomfortable and afraid, as if something has eluded our grasp.

Philosophy is the antidote to fear. It is the illusion that cures all illusions. It is not a way to stop automatism or reactionism, it is automatic and reactionary in itself.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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