In Defense of Philosophy
Originally uploaded by antje b.
When I first saw the title of the series advertised in the Tate guide, I was a little surprised. I never thought that philosophy needed defending. I always thought it was an integral part of any developed social system.
However, when Tariq Ali came to speak of the making of the film 'Spinoza: Apostle of Reason' for Channel 4 (which was shown at the beginning of the event), he mentioned that the channel was originally set up to cater for non-mainstream political, cultural and minority audiences. All this changed towards the end of the 90ies, he said, when Channel 4 succumbed to measuring the value of its content by ratings. And thus the 'marketisation' of Channel 4 commenced.
He added that sadly this phenomenon was also visible in education, which these days, to put it bluntly, he said, only served the needs of the market. Philosophy, the 'love of wisdom', doesn't seem to fit in. It's just not profitable. (Unless, of course, you count people like Jim Rohn as philosophers.)
Another intriguing thought that came out in the Q&A was the use of the politics of fear in controlling the masses. Especially the fear of loss and ultimately the fear of death. When ordinary people lose that fear of death for a while, things like Egypt happen.
In summary, I had an interesting evening. I would have liked to have shared it with someone to bounce some thoughts off afterwards but it was a somewhat spontaneous decision to go. As it was, I left with the unsatisfying feeling that I have spent years successfully dulling my mind. In my whole life, I'm afraid, I've never had an original thought. I feel rather clever and proud when I understand what intelligent people talk about but it's not the first time that I think I have nothing to contribute. Looking at the amount of reading I would have to do just to catch up is off-putting in its own right.
I haven't decided what to do about it but I'm teetering on the verge of just letting it be.
My apologies if this post was a little bitty but I just wanted to share my impressions of the event.