Thursday, August 18, 2005

Philosophy and the Masses

Thanks to Prof. Weatherson (Philosophy, Cornell) for this amusing thread.

On a more sober note, one wonders how much grasp should we expect laypeople to possess on philosophical concepts - rather than definitions which usually prove a more difficult task to give. The less hopeless mass might answer Plato, Nietzsche, or existentialism when asked to explain what philosophy is, but how much understanding of philosophy is needed before one can identify Plato, Nietzsche, or existentialism as such? How much qualification is required before a layman's identification of something as philosophy can be taken as a justified claim? That the term philosophy itself is such a vague and broad one certainly does no help in attempting to measure what already seems impossible to determine, but perhaps the more difficult task is to place the ever so subtle point at which a layman may arrive to recognize - even in just a blink of a moment - that thing that philosophers (used to) call wisdom that makes a philosophy a philosophy. Perhaps it is time to read The Allegory of the Cave once again. Fxs

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