An Urgent Question

I fear philosophy has lost its way.confused 2

Philosophy’s foundational question exemplified in the life and words of Socrates—how should one live?—is no longer asked with the urgency and stakes it had for the ancient philosophers who originally posed it. For those ancient philosophers, philosophy was a way of life and philosophical ideas were to be lived, not only discussed.

Today, inquiry into how one should live is safely ensconced in academic institutions pursued by specialists adept at making theoretical distinctions but who lack a context in which their hypotheses can be tested or modeled. No doubt, for some philosophers, philosophy is a way of life, but it is seldom presented as such to students or in publications. Even questions about how to live are presented as topics of interest to theorists and their import is for the most part theoretical.

This is peculiar.

Questions concerning how one should live are urgent and persistent in everyday life. If philosophy has nothing to say about these questions as they are raised outside academic institutions, who then is equipped to answer them? No other discipline has this as its foundational question.

Yet, it is not clear what it means, in the contemporary world, to say that philosophy is a way of life. Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers had much to say about it, yet some of their arguments were profoundly mistaken. More recently, Pierre Hadot, John Cooper, and others have written with insight about philosophy as a way of life, but much of this discussion is grounded in those ancient texts whose relevance today may be questioned.

This blog is dedicated to updating that discussion and exploring new possibilities for philosophy as a way of life.

Published by Dwight Furrow

Wine, food, and travel writing, philosophy, aesthetics

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