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Thursday 21 February 2013

Thoughts on Thursday: Philosophers of fear

Two people I know, good friends and otherwise very intelligent men, have what I consider irrational fears about two different groups. 

It's more surprising that they are both philosophers and you'd expect them to know better. Instead they use their philosophical training to further cement their arguments against rather than investigation into. The groups they despise aren't unusual or unexpected, indeed, it seems that they are good products of media fear-mongering.

Perhaps I'm wrong and perhaps these two groups do represent a new and dangerous type of evil in the world. Perhaps I'm just being too 'right on' and it's precisely this sort of laissez faire attitude that allows them to go on causing so much (potential) trouble.

I'll admit that some aspects of their bugbears are worrying, some aspects in isolation, and that given an inch some people will take a yard, but I still feel that they are failing as philosophers if they are to take this attitude (one's personal feeling of what philosophy is, is something I've talked about before).

They're acting more like Rhetoricians, like journalists or politicians, playing at being philosophers and using their training to stir up anxiety and create arguments, but perhaps that's exactly what philosophers should be doing more of. Certainly in the UK there is a complete lack of the 'Social Philosopher' such as exists in France for example. The only public intellectuals we have in this country are scientists and most of them too facile to even bother with.

Pay no attention to this man.

Anyway, it's not that I don't think philosophers should not concern themselves with politics (and retreat to their lofty caves) because, quite obviously, they must. I'd expect a philosopher's response to, I don't know, be a little more thought out? To have at least tried to see both sides (or more) of the arguments, to investigate their own prejudices and their culture's. I suppose, fundamentally, I'm just disappointed with their eager aggression.