Against A Life Of The Mind

Think On These Things

“Wisdom is knowing what to overlook.” -William James

I recently published a post criticizing an article titled “Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline,” which offered as “wisdom” the suggestion that we would do well to overlook most of philosophy, as it is a hopelessly muddled and obscure practice that isn’t very “useful.” I wish to offer a counter-position to my own post, which criticized this view, for there is in deed a sense in which the practice of philosophy is quite “irrational.”

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. -Ecclesiastes 1:18

The author in question is right that philosophy isn’t very “useful” if he means that it is unlikely to get you a job, a date, or relieve your anxieties about the world. In fact, the practice positively compounds most of the ills of modern life. The more you learn about the world…

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