While gathering ideas for the book “The unprepared philosopher” I have started reading up on philosophy (also: possibly for the sequel “The prepared philosopher”). Reading the greats of philosophy is both a boon and a bust. Let us get the boon out of the way first. After all, it does not befit me to be unnecessarily positive. I have a reputation to think of!
So, the boon is the self inserted feather up the proverbial backside representing the fact that I have been thinking much the same things the great philosophers have thought. They have become famous by thinking the things that have come to my unprepared philosopher’s mind autonomously. This is bolstering the esteem I am slowly developing for my brain. An esteem that has been lacking somewhat in recent years. So a boon.
Now for the bust. The bust is that I am thinking the same things that famous philosophers have been thinking. Drat! This makes me less original than I secretly hoped to be. Even when a professed disbelieve in originality prohibits such freedoms of thought. So can I think further and deeper than the greats? Can I critique their thoughts and ideas. Can I, a village born nobody proclaim to know better than Nietzsche, Kant or Aristotle? Here in lies the rub, my friends.
Well, I guess the answer has to be: yes! Thrice yes. Otherwise my choice to become a writer and philosopher has come to naught before it even has taken shape. It is all fine to write short stories about ancient swords and weird happenings but I don’t want to be remembered for that. I want to think. I want to make a difference to thought. I want to develop ideas that have until now remained undeveloped.
Ambitious? Certainly! But I have made a choice in life that has had a pretty big impact. It would be silly to make such a choice without attaching a healthy dose of ambition to it. So my mission statement (if you’ll allow the USA-ism) is to think, think and think again. And come up with ideas that will drink health to Socrates and make Nietzsche turn in his nihilist grave. Bold? Yes. Ambitious? Yes. Obtainable goal? I doubt it.
Time for a little deflation. Pfew. I had myself worked up there for a moment. However, the more I read about philosophy the more I am getting the feeling that it is a war. A war of ideas in which no prisoners are taken and a war which is fought with utter ruthlessness. To compete in that theatre with any hope of being heard, one must use blunt instruments to lay bare the subtlety of one’s ideas. When reading Nietzsche I notice a great amount of arrogance in his writing. Even his early writing. He is not waiting for acknowledgement by the establishment so why should I?
So the mission statement stands. Now for the execution…