Think-Tanking Like a Bulldozer or Why Philosophy Needs History

The call for action is deafening all over the globe, but I never encountered such a blatant crusade against philosophy like this one. And this is coming from a writer who published well over 400 articles in the Philosophy section at!
Sure, he has a point. If you like kicking the straw (white) man he is setting up. Did I ever meet someone that has a PhD in Philosophy? I was like one, before I got my doctorate that is. Does such a person only quote dead philosophers?

Come on!
I knew a few first year students like that, and maybe that is what he is remembering now.
Besides, knowing where a particular point of view was already established in history and knowing therefore the history of the debate, is a prerequisite of thinking. Maybe not the kind he is doing in his ThinkTank, but let’s say in the world of science. I wouldn’t like to see a physicist think-tanking his way through an experiment without knowing the (recent) history of his science.
Alchemy turned into chemistry when people started discussing the results of their experiments in an open atmosphere and proceeded by building upon the past. Philosophy is like that, it needs its history, perhaps even more so than science.
How far away from being a PhD in philosophy do you need to be, in order to forget that?
Maybe the next thing that will come up in this Tank is the fresh opinion that “everything is water.” (I know, this is a straw man too.)
I will then reply, to my eternal shame of course, that such a point of view was already represented by the philosopher Thales of Milete and subsequently refuted by Plato and Aristotle. So why is he wasting my time?
Furthermore, there is a confusion here. Thinking is an act of reflection. It is not building a house or moving furniture or running a company. Those are activities that change the material conditions in the world. Thinking is required to know what to do and how to do it, and especially why. Reflective thought is by default the interruption of the flow of deeds and the critique of the appearance of urgency. Philosophy is the major institution within culture that brings everything to a halt in order to say: ‘Wait a minute, what are we doing here? Why are we doing it? Should we be doing it?’
Lance Winslow wants to be able to answer that question by telling the PhD’s: ‘Shut up, go and do something useful. In stead of just reading, you could have been working.’
But we need to learn from the mistakes of the past. Especially in philosophy. You might not like the idea that someone tells you that your brilliant idea was already there, 500 years ago, and was rejected by the philosophic community. Too bad. That is how any science advances. If you insist on repeating the old truisms, you are like a modern physicist who rediscovers Newton’s law of Gravity. Nice work! And at the same time: completely irrelevant! But it is even worse to repeat the former mistakes because you don’t like to read books. Because that is why we don’t teach alchemy or witchcraft.

If you don’t care about what others have been thinking, you do not believe in thinking at all.

Just read the following article and you’ll see what I mean.

A Degree in Philosophy and No Achievement to Your Name – What Gives?Do you know anyone that has a PhD in philosophy? Oh, they can talk your ear off, they can lead you into conversations and circular arguments for which there is no escape. And as you reason with them and travel through the muddy waters, they are constantly pointing out what dead white men who previously was attributed to that thought. In fact every argument you come up with they will attribute to some past period philosopher who had already made that statement, as if yours means nothing.

However, there is more to life than memorizing the names of other people who once thought great thoughts, and there is a lot more to life than trapping one’s mind and circular arguments to rehash what was already been rehashed in the past. The reality is a degree in philosophy is of no value, if the individual hasn’t achieved anything in life, or given back anything to the common good of all we are and all we’ve built. There are those that “think” and those that do.

The most powerful and important people in our society are those who think and do. Merely having a degree in philosophy with no achievements to your name, tells a lot about who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what you stand for. If all you can do is sit around the coffee table and discussing the lives and philosophical exploits of days gone by, without using that knowledge to solve problems, and prevent future challenges then that is really of no value.

You are just another man trapped inside of his mind, and a self inflicted believe system mental prison. I would challenge all the philosophers of our current era to get off their butts, and go create something, and take their place in history, and use that philosophical realm to do something great. Because if you can’t do that you’re of little value to anyone else. In fact, you might be better off just talking to your own mirror. Please consider all this.

Article Source:

Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes in thinking.

Does he now?


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