Why Philosophy?

I realized that I’ve never really talked about why this is important. Sure, Concept Crucible is an experiment in being wrong, but I could’ve been wrong about anything. I could’ve put out ideas about baseball, or knitting, or physics and experimented in being wrong that way. Instead, philosophy. Sure, it’s what I’ve got my degree in, but as I learn whenever I talk with the phd students in my department, that’s a long way from being an expert on it. So I want to share with you why it matters to me, and why I think it matters to you and everyone else.

When people ask me how I got into it, I usually tell them a story about how I got a phonecall from the future, or how my computer’s power supply died, and I’ll tell that story here some day. How I got into it is different from why it’s important to me. When I was a kid, I had a book called Son of Interflux, by Gordan Korman. In it, there was a character named Phil, who was good at everything…For a while. And he remarks “When I was ten, they had me pegged as a chess prodigy, and I still play like the best ten year old in the business.” And there came a time when I realized that my ideas about things were those of the best ten year old in the business. I want to make life better for me and for the people I care about, which includes you, and the best way I know how to do that is through doing stuff to make our lives better. And to do that, I need an idea. Altering our beliefs is the most fundamental change we can make, and probably one of the most challenging, but it doesn’t cost a dime. When I learn something great, I don’t need investors or capital, I can start trying to do it the next day, or even the next minute. I fail a lot, but failure is part of the process. So when I finally got the gumption to blog, I wanted to blog about philosophy, because it seemed like the easiest way to reach out to people and help them make change, as well as inviting them to help me change.

I think philosophy is important to everyone else because it’s mandatory. We don’t have to play baseball, or knit, or study physics, but we all have to have ideas about the nature of things and what improves our lives. We have to have ideas about how we ought to treat other people, and the kinds of obligations we have. Even if that idea is “I have no idea,” philosophy is relevant because everyone is doing it. You’re doing it right now. The problem with academic philosophy is that while there’s a lot of good ideas and good conversations happening there, it’s not always accessible to non-specialists. What non-scholar has time to gain access to and read contemporary scholarship, while maintaining a knowledge of the historical works that it’s based on? ¬†It’s a lot of work, regardless of how important it is. Here I try and make it accessible, using nerd culture, news, or just simple points and arguments in what I hope is a Coles notes to living well. And¬†hopefully you get some ideas about how to improve your situation here. If you’ve already got better ideas, then I invite you to share them with me, so I can benefit from them and so the next person who comes here gets the best ideas I can muster, because that’s what they deserve.

In short, I blog about philosophy because we are all philosophers, and I think one of the keys to better lives is becoming better philosophers. It’s important to me because I value not just that we have ideas, but how we form them and why we take them to be true, and I think it’s important to us because reaching better reasons for doing things helps us do them better.


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