I think that when we killed God, Philosophy too was struck down in grief. Is it any surprise that these two were tied together by fate, when the most famous philosopher concluded his most famous speech with the declaration “Now we go our separate ways. You to live, and me to die. Only God knows which is best.”?
I think that Philosophy has lost its soul. Be it to cold logicians or moralistic activists, it doesn’t matter, the result is the same. Philosophy is rendered either a dead machine, or an undead, shambling corpse. Whichever is the case, it is no longer a soul that animates Philosophy. I want to be a part of the reanimation of Philosophy. I read once that in certain shamanic traditions, part of the job of the shaman was to navigate the spirit realm to collect the lost soul pieces of their patients. Upon returning them to their proper place, the patient would once again be whole. This, I think, is what Philosophy needs.
There is a certain kind of light that philosophers can see. This distant, twinkling star, that calls to them. And they don’t know what it is, not exactly. They only know that it is calling for them. Socrates knew this, I think. For all his questioning and irony, it is clear that he was a deeply religious man. He knew that there was something far beyond any people or any city that was calling on him to act, and he knew that it was not his place to disobey it.
Even if it called on him to give up his life.
I can see that twinkling star, reflected in Socrates. This shining light of Philosophy. And I hear it talk to me sometimes, not unlike how he describes it talking to him. “Daniel, is this what a philosopher would do?” it asks me. And so I acquiesce, knowing that it is right to chastise me. It tells me that, if I am to be a philosopher, I must take pride in my role as such, and accordingly hold myself and my surroundings (that is, my apartment) to a high standard. Indeed, if I truly believe Philosophy to be important, then I should act like it. If I want to invite it into my home, I better make sure that I have prepared for it.
I think that something like this is what Philosophy needs. It needs its daemon, its divine sign. Our philosophy department is a short hallway, with grey brick walls and orange-brown wooden doors. It is populated almost entirely with offices (often closed), save for a small lounge (often empty). Were you to remove the signs and posters around the department, and the books in the lounge, I think it would be quite hard for a stranger to determine that this is the place reserved for the study and pondering of the most curious questions that humanity has ever come across.
Where is the pride? Where is the respect? To where are you supposed to direct the new student, the lifeblood of any study, to show them just what Philosophy is all about?
Where is our star?
By Daniel Stanton