Saturday, March 4, 2017

Return to Philosophy

As a former philosophy major who once entertained the idea of pursuing an academic career in the subject you’d think I’d continually be spotting and monitoring  how philosophy emerges in our culture. To be sure, along the way I’ve caught things like : how “ethics” continues to merge as technologies advance, or the occasional sci-fi thought experiments that trigger existential crises.

But lately, I keep encountering these gentle nudges that remind me of my former passion - not just as a wink and a nod, but as full on celebrations of the discipline.

The first came from a friend, intrigued by my own hypothesizing of the hedonism, who asked me about Michel Onfray. I was clueless. I had to look him up. Here was a man, my contemporary, writing manifestos on Atheism and Hedonism that really had resonance. Suddenly I saw myself and what I might have been if I had continued down the academic path – and been born in France (a place more sympathetic to both such studies and conclusions). I ate it up – (along with a few regrets) and actually hope to dive deeper into his works.

Next up, The Partially Examined Life, a podcast from a collection of former philosophy students who have moved on but still enjoy discussing philosophy. This is a bit of a niche to be expected in the way the Internet celebrates all subgroups no matter how small. I actually discovered this through another Internet niche, Existential Comics. But through these niches comes Richard Rorty and Achieving Our Country, a collection of 15 year-old essays that have risen to prominence as people try to make sense of the Trump election victory.

The latest comes from Vancouver based philosophy professor, Carrie Jenkins, with her recently published book, What Love Is And What It Could Be. Carrie Jenkins earlier works concerned the philosophy of mathematics, not something to grab headlines, but she has now turned her philosophic inquiry on the nature of romantic love in an effort to explore such topics as polyamory as she herself is in a polyamorous relationship with two men. I’m eager to delve into this one.

So suddenly, philosophy is relevant again – or perhaps its suddenly relevant to me again? Whichever it is, It’s conjured both regret and renewed interest in the profession and discipline of Philosophy.