Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Consciousness Chart 9/16/09

Question: How many philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?

DB - The Vagabond
Welcome to my room.
In my eager younger years I wasn't much interested in philosophy. I got my intellectual stimulation from music and the great playwrights. At one point I read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" because everyone was reading it. And. yes, I read the whole thing. People were put off by the fact that it was so long. But Rand was a Russian and the Russians wrote long novels. Look at Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy. How many people got all the way through "War and Peace"? I did. I also read Doctor Zhivago even before I saw the movie. But I digress (as usual).

Philosophy itself, unencumbered by fiction, was an alien world to me and I expected it to stay that way. I took one philosophy course in college taught by a fellow who was more interested in driving his Thunderbird and playing his cello.

Somewhere I acquired a copy of Thomas Hobbes' "Leviathan" which I found boring and confusing. I also couldn't find anyone with whom to discuss the ideas in the book.
So I gave up philosophy for good.

Then many years later I happened by one of those dollar-a-book tables on the sidewalk in New York City and bought a book that changed my life; "What Is Called Thinking" by Martin Heidegger is an edited series of lectures he gave in Germany about the processes of the human intellect. It sounded to me like the perfect book to put me to sleep. But instead, it woke me up. It changed my light bulb.

Now I'm not suggesting that everyone should go out and buy this book. It just so happened it was the one that did it for me. Then I read all the philosophy I could get. Plato and Aristotle, Nietzsche, Kant, Rousseau, Descartes, Russell, Arendt, Santayana, Sartre, Locke, Mill, Goldman, Dewey, Spinoza, the list is very long, and, yes, Hobbes is on it.

Nietzsche says somewhere that philosophy is not designed to tell you what to think but to get you to think for yourself. For me now, it's the great adventure. From a subject that put me to sleep it has become the one that threw aside the covers and tossed me out of bed.

They don't all agree with each other but they all think, challenge, reason, huff and puff their way up imposing mental mountains and poke their noses into every corner of life from geraniums to galaxies. Far from being dull, it's a restless world of confrontation with ideas, histories and all the phenomena of our lives. I would like to live another hundred years just so I can read what these amazing men and women have to offer me.

Question: How many philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Any one of them can do it if you're in the dark.

DB - The Vagabond
May you find happy blogs to read.


Rose~* said...

I love your answer to the lightbulb question - and wanted to say that I also like your new blog theme. Believe it or not, that is the first theme that I picked when I set up my home here.

miss alaineus said...

i'm a big fan of kant.


Nina P. said...

Now I was going to say: Is the light bulb real? How do you know it really is in need of change? If I do not see the light bulb does it truly exist? if you and I see a light bulb can we join our minds and change it...light it? How do you know there is a light bulb? Who do you consider to be philosophers? etc.... (smiles) Thoughtful thought provoking post, as always. Love and Light, Nina P.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Thanks for the reminder. I love philosophy in college, but have not done much with it since. I must change that :o)

Beth said...

My sister is doing a DVD study of transcendentalism. She is enjoying it, but her husband? Not so much. :) Hugs, Beth