My Philosopher to be

For International Women’s Day.

How To Be a Philosopher

Originally posted for World Philosophy Day (2015), but as it is about a philosop-HER, reposted for International Women’s Day (2016).

As this blog is about being a philosopher, for my World Philosophy Day special edition, I thought I would talk about the philosopher I want to be.

So far in my philosophical life I have encountered quite a few philosophers who I admire, aspire to, and have been importantly influenced by. My undergraduate lecturer and supervisor who first introduced me to my philosophical interests and loves. My graduate supervisor who manages to generally challenge, and extract my intellectual best while also being tolerant of my (many) peculiarities. My philosophy hero whose every shining idea and charismatic word I hang on like a starstruck groupie (gushing and all). In addition to these living examples there are also a number of dead philosophers whose ideas and lives have made me think hard…

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Yeah, but I’m not smart enough

As we learnt last time, Socrates was the greatest know-nothing; and importantly, he knew it. Still, despite his genuine protestations, Socrates was actually brilliant. ‘The wisest of them all’ the Oracle of Delphi said; and everybody knew it.

Now it might occur to you that it is actually Socrates’ brilliance that affords him his philosophical ignorance. He had the right kind of smarts to come to grips with, and flourish from, knowing he knows nothing — the extraordinary natural talent to be a philosopher. He’s marked by the divine sign, for goodness sakes! Whereas, like those everyday thinkers who Socrates relentlessly questioned, someone like me (you think) does not have his sort of philosophical mind, just an ordinary mind confined to the usual ignorant.

Perhaps, resigning you to declare: ‘Yeah, it’s alright for Socrates, but I’m just not smart enough to be a philosopher.’ Continue reading