Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Xenophilic X-rays 4/28/09

To me reading philosophy is like reading a great work of fiction. I love to follow a path of ideas to the ultimate and pleasurable surprise.

DB - The Vagabond
C'mon-a my house-a, my house.
When I was a kid I liked classical music, opera, poetry and novels (Yes. I was a strange kid.) But I wouldn't go near philosophy. What could be more boring? Watching the grass grow, perhaps?

My college English teacher, a tiresome, over-categorizing fellow, made us wade through Plato's "Republic" for some odd reason. It was all Greek to me (ha, ha). I had a girl friend who was a Philosophy major. She would often give me quotes to think about: Plato said this, Descartes said that, Aristotle said the other, but then Mill said so and so and Russell replied such and so, and of course Santayana and Rousseau, etc. until my head was spinning.

Years later, I don't remember how, I found a copy of "Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes sitting on my desk. So I read it. That book showed me three important things. One: it taught me a lot about the machinery of politics and government. Two: it showed me that in the hands and mind of a great thinker, philosophy could be a very interesting read, Three: philosophy isn't a system to tell you what to think, but a system to get you thinking for yourself.

The first actual book of phosophy I bought for myself was by Martin Heidegger. By the time I finished it I was an addict. I soon found the funds to purchase a complete Plato that now sits at my elbow along with my complete Shakespeare and some other favored books. I was blessed to be chosen to record Nietzsche's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" for the Library Of Congress' books for the blind.

Now I'm the owner of a small library of philosophical works: a lot of Aristotle, Kant, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Benthem, Mill, Santayana, Kierkegaard, Bruno, Locke, Whitehead, Neruda, Russell, Sartre, Descartes, Aquinas, Jaspers, Hegel and that's all I can remember without going through my library and it's too hot today to do that. Plus I have several journals on philosophy and the history of ideas.

Aesthetics, ethics, politics, poetics, linguistics, logic, epistemology, metaphysics, semantics, cosmology, spirituality, sociology, virtue; philosophy is the study of the human race, where it came from, and what it's destiny is. It is the hidden art and the divine science.

Through the years philosophers have approached it's topics from every conceivable angle and influence. That they can't agree with each other is what makes it fun. But they all address their subjects with a keen mind. To follow such a mind as it hikes its way through the jungle of thoughts and theories, making discoveries along the way and reaching a destination on top of some mountain of clarity and conclusion, is exciting to me.

You don't have to like philosophy. You don't have to read it. Leave that up to strange kids like me. I just wanted to spend this page of my journal sharing my joy with you.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
May angels greet you in the morning.


Anonymous said...

You record books for the blind for LoC? Awesome! How does it feel to read the great works of philosophy? Have you recorded any Kierkegaard?

Big Mark 243 said...

Without a doubt, you know that Nietzche is someone I have read a couple of times ... read some other big books that I consider 'a philosophy' like Rand and Campbell.

I never liked being forced to think of a philosopher as what someone tells me a philosopher is. Does Wayne Dyer qualify? Paulo Cohelo?

Descartes is reason enough to go back to school... I appreciate him, but I need to be in a different atmosphere than where I am now. Got on the list for a book on humanism.

The last one of your 'important things' got to me ... thinking for yourself, and that is something I have really embraced!!

Beth said...

It is definitely enjoyable at times to ponder the meaning of things. Other times, I enjoy just the fact that I exist and can appreciate what surrounds me.

And I can't hear about the philosophers without thinking of the Monty Python song about them. :)

Hugs, Beth

Rose~* said...

We all have our own likes and dislikes, and I thank you for sharing this with your readers.

Joyce said...

Unfortunately I'm with Rose on this. You have gone considerably over my head but I do appreciate hearing about the things you love.
Hugs, Joyce