Every thoughtful human being has a philosophy of one sort or another, even if it is not very precisely worked out. The problem is that most people never get beyond the stage of having “my philosophy”. That is, although many, if not most, people have established for themselves a particular philosophical point of view, very few people seriously work at expanding that personal point of view in such a way that it can be regarded as having a legitimate range of application beyond their own personal opinions. Yet this step is crucial if we are ever to understand what philosophy really is. Philosophy must go beyond the stage of being “my philosophy” and must become philosophy before I can say “I am a philosopher”.”
If by philosophy we mean simply ‘an inquiry into the world’, then everyone on the face of the Earth is a philosopher, because everyone is inquiring into the world. However, the inquiring is useful only if it becomes embedded in the historical process, a process that passes the achievements of one person of any age onto other persons of any age and makes them a greater common good ( intergenerationally beneficial ) rather than a little personal good ( for his own use only ). If it doesn’t become embedded in the historical process, it will perish along with its lonely claimer. Therefore, if it is to have any reasonable impact on the collective of any kind, it has to eventualy become a part of the historical process. That’s why anyone who does inquiring, must somehow intelligibly communicate it to other persons in order to make a dialogue possible, and so to keep his thought running through the society and through the history. This will be his contribution to the world’s shared understanding. The dialogue I mention is a ”great perennial dialogue of the ages” which historical philosophy is. My philosophy ( results of my inquiry ) and your philosophy ( results of your inquiry ) must become our philosophy ( dynamic intrapersonal historical inquiry ), accessible to anyone and vulnerable to critique, judgement, questions, interpretations, corrections and perusal.
A key difference between a dialogue and an ordinary discussion is that, within the latter people usually hold relatively fixed positions and argue in favor of their views as they try to convince others to change. At best this may produce agreement or compromise, but it does not give rise to anything creative.What is essential here is the presence of the spirit of dialogue, which is in short, the ability to hold many points of view in suspension, along with a primary interest in the creation of common meaning.”
Throughout my own inquiring, I found out that some of my ”discoveries” were allready made by some really prominent men of the past. I noted the specific cases in which there was a huge – sometimes almost striking – similarity between my conclusion and the conclusion reached by a certain famous man who once thought out nearly the same thing as I. These men include: Mahatma Ghandi, Leo Tolstoy, Hugo Steinhaus, Karl Popper and Albert Schweitzer. They all asked big questions, probably of the same type as me, and sometimes, as it seems, they found similar answers that I did. In connection to this, I am announcing now that I will write a separate post dealing with this particular fun fact as I am unable, at this time, to find the notes where all this has been written down.
Those who discover things for themselves and express them in their own way are not overly bothered by the fact that others have already discovered these things — have even discovered them over and over again — and have expressed what they found in all manner of ways.”
So, what made me conceive the title of this post? I realized that, in the history of philosophy there were no reactions preceding actions, no answers preceding questions, no responses preceding initial thesis. It looks like there is an orderly evolution of thought. For instance, although in theory it may be possible, in reality, it is totally at odds with the familiar regularities of historical dynamics, to think that postmodernity can coexist along with pythagoreanism. It is because philosophy is always a work in progress attached to and resulting from the circumstances of the environment in which it is flourishing. Philosophy is the testimony of the wandering man and the thought itself is a system. It cannot escape its own development. It cannot betray its age, its zeitgeist. The philosophical concepts of any age must reflect the level of advancement and the stage at which the historical dialogue has arrived. Our understanding is growing in length and breadth as time progresses, because the historical dialogue is ever more complete and all-inclusive. It covers more and more of the totality of our modes of thinking and of its contents and subjects.
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. Philosophy does not result in ‘philosophical propositions’, but rather in the clarification of propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.”
To a large degree:
Aristotle’s work is reaction to Plato
Thomas Aquinas’ work is reaction to Aristotle
Nietzsche’s work is reaction Schopenhauer
Schopenhauer’s work is reaction to Kant
Marx’s work is reaction to Hegel
And so on and so on
The human mentality is different in every age. Postmodernism reflects the attitudes, achievements, needs, worries and peculiarities of modern age – in its heart and spirit it is not compatible with ancient stage of cultural development of mankind, a development that to me seems quite logical. By this, I mean, postmodernism would understand pythagoreanism but pythagoreanism would not understand postmodernity, just like older brother will understand his younger brother but in many ways younger brother will not understand his older brother. To summarize and to simplify – the process of historical dialogue is a prolonged action-reaction sequence where the next action is following the reaction to the previous action and so it continues in this manner up to this day. Postmodernity couldn’t be introduced to history anytime, it could only be introduced to history when the stage was set for it and all the requirements have been met. It couldn’t have happened in reverse or in any radically different order. That’s how it appears to me.
At the beginning of the history of philosophy, people had simple picture of reality, easy answers to fundamental questions and low level of uncertainty about the actual nature of things. Nowadays, people have complex picture of reality, difficult answers to fundamental questions and high level of uncertainty about the actual nature of things.