Special Edition: How to be a Philosopher when the world no longer has room for you

Well, ‘the argument from conspiracy’ won out. The United States have elected a President who grounded a whole campaign on it, and won. The bullshit won.

The Oxford Dictionary marks ‘post-truth’ as the international word of the year. And that does appear to be the world we live in now.

Anger, fear, and sadness are dominant. As the world deepens the chasm between the fearfully bereft and uncompromisingly self-righteous, it simply cannot stop shouting.

Today is world philosophy day. But in 2016 while the world just shouts variations of ‘you’re wrong’ and ‘it’s all your fault’ there appears no room left for being a philosopher. No room for the practice of philosophical conversation, no room for the art of listening, no room to quietly contemplate, imitate other possible ideas. Philosophy at its best is compassionate. It reaches out to carefully understand the world around us. Right now there is no room for compassion. The dicks and bullshitters will only shout you down.

So how do you be a philosopher when the world no longer has room for you?

I entirely and desperately do not have a clue. I feel a stranger in a strange world. Nevertheless, I do have time. Time to think and feel, time to ask ‘what are we doing and why are we doing it?’ come to ‘know thyself’. And with time, hopefully, the shouting will die down and the world will be ready for conversation, again.

Having grown up with a defender or two of the argument from conspiracy, I perhaps should know better. Know how to deal with all this. But I don’t. Still, I can offer my (self-made philosopher) mother’s standard response to the pontificating conspiracy-bullshitter…

‘You might be right.’

In the meantime, I wait, hope, and continue to work at being a philosopher. And whatever you think about all this — you might be right.

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