Monday was June 18th, which marks the one year anniversary of my convocation, and of when I got serious about writing this blog. This post is also post number 101, which means I’ve hit two milestones. I’ve learned a lot since then, and have had to re-evaluate my vision for this a couple of times. I thought I’d take today to wander away from my usual topics and talk a bit about why this is here, and why I’ve changed things around as I went.
I used to want to be a professional academic. My slogan was “Phd or bust.” But I was nervous about being wrong. It was fine to be wrong in regular contexts, being wrong is one of the best ways to find better ideas, after all. But some of my riskier ideas I kept to myself, nervous about being criticized about them, especially by my peers or professors, because while they were good ideas, I was always a little worried that I hadn’t thought them through enough, or that I’d get flustered when people began to examine them. As someone who had spent years critically examining the ideas of others and generally being insufferable, this seemed like hypocrisy and cowardice of the worst kind, and I felt pretty bad about it. If I was going to be a professional academic, I thought, I’d have to develop a thicker skin about these. It’s been a year for risk-taking, and a few friends of mine had blogs, so I thought I’d start one, a space where I could make arguments for these ideas and where I’d have to make sure they could weather criticism from anyone. A concept crucible, if you will. I registered the domain, and started writing. That’s where posts like We’re Not Talking About the Truth and my post on gender come from.
But it wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t talk about contentious things twice a week every week. My other passion is in sharing the kinds of things I’ve learned studying philosophy, and how they can be applied in regular life. I won’t say that philosophy is easy, but there are a lot of elements of it that you use every day without even being aware, and being aware of them can help you use them better. Whenever you think somebody’s full of crap, wonder about what something is really like, or engage critically with anything, you’re doing what philosophers do all the time. I started to shift toward doing that, toward writing for my readers rather than for myself. That’s how the Saturday logic posts got started, and I look forward to continuing them as we get more in depth into logic and argumentation.
So with the first year behind me, I want to recommit to my purpose. I want to help bring about a critical mass in critical thinking, and help people improve the tools they use to evaluate the world. I also want to show how philosophy applies in everyday life, and that it isn’t just for academics. It can do wonderful things for pretty much everybody. Thank you for sticking with me through my first year, and I hope you’ll join me for the next. What would you like to see more or less of here at Concept Crucible?