Recently, a thought popped into my head which I felt was laying in the basement for quite a while that: how did I get to thinking about all this stuff? And here I’m talking about all the stuff I write about. This “philosophy” or whatever one would call it. I believe that YouTube was always the outlet for me to avoid something that I should be really doing. And it might be a matter of luck that this procrastination has led me to attain whatever competence I have in writing. And so, it had me thinking — is this writing shtick a complicated contraption to get attention?
Maybe, it is a sophisticated façade to mask some underlying need for attention. So, those who are not or rather those who think they are not physically attractive enough (I call this ‘Instagram Compatible’), have to resort to such shenanigans to satisfy this hunger for attention. And it is sort of brilliant because it is not screaming for it. It is an elaborate attempt which does enhance its appeal. So, the mask is effective. The irony is that we are being lazy at our real job and devising these complicated ways to mask this need for attention. And it all might be because you find there’s less competition for you here than at your actual work, but so is the pay[-off].
Initially, how you get into Philosophy is that you’re looking (not actively) for an escape so that you don’t have to pay any attention to all the boring work that is pending before you. So, with many YouTube videos on philosophical ideas, where you don’t have to invest several hours reading many philosophers and actually straining your brain to challenge their ideas, or assume a counter position to theirs; and you could just lay back and watch someone explain Stoicism while you eat your lunch, and since you weren’t engaged with the idea, you have no insight in the matter and you could just import the whole philosophy, taking it on face-value and making it yours. It could give you the illusion of actual development of thought but, it is just a mirage. Because reading is actual work; thinking is actual work.
This importing of ideas is oxymoronically that laziness at work again. And I think there’s that need for attention lurking in there too. It is a shortcut for people to score some brownie points in their social sphere without actually coming up with their own philosophy. If you’re listening to other people talk about their ideas all the time, you’re going to miss listening to the ones you have. And if I can’t hear my own thoughts, I can’t think; and when I can’t think I can’t generate my own ideas, my own philosophy. So, If I can’t think about an idea, I don’t need to elaborate it on a piece of paper and then that non-existing idea is not even sophisticated enough to be of some actual value. Because thinking is actual work; writing is actual work.
Philosophy is quite a fun enterprise because you get to play with some really intriguing perspectives and there are essentially boundless transactions of ideas. But, what kind of separate these ideas from science or limits their osmosis into the real world is that there might be no mechanism of falsifiability. I believe that this is also its attraction because the bar to put forward an idea is so low that anybody could come up something and it can’t be tested. And here it also becomes a contest where it is not how accurately you could frame a phenomenon but how creatively you could dress it. And maybe then we just want to bask in the beauty of that idea rather than its actual substance.
I believe Philosophy is also a way to distract yourself from the real economical work that you could be doing. Because that work isn’t creative but precise, mathematical, and formal. It is so — because that’s the only way to make things that actually work in this world. It is hard work, so you naturally feel some resistance to it. And when you face that resistance, you want to go into the arms of philosophy as if you want someone to say that this work is not worth doing, so as to spare yourself from the pain of doing it. You distract yourself with the excuse that there are more important questions that are needed to be answered first. And at that point, Philosophy is the opium of the incompetent.
By: Shailesh Dagar
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