|The works of some philosophers |
would make excellent table legs.
|Here's my rebuttal, Sirrah.|
Two problems face the spiritual seeker however. One is that philosophy under the direction of a commitment to Truth can compete with our other needs such as for companionship and community or if not actually competitive Philosophy doesn’t inherently value these concerns. The image of the Truth seeking philosopher might be someone like a young Ludwig Wittgenstein. He constantly fought against his need for other people so as to maintain an isolation that served his work. If you don’t know Wittgenstein you probably know the image; the unfriendly, tactless, driven scholar who considers their desire for company a weakness. If this is philosophy its fruits appear to be only self-referentially relevant. It is hostile to our social selves and the joys of life. Ultimately we will ask why we are cultivating that kind of thinking. It may be orientated towards truth but it isn’t always healthy. I think those in relationships with people who do a lot of philosophy may understand this point best.
You see in the end Wittgenstein was something other than a classic spiritual seeker. He was uncomfortable with his feelings for others and often a fish out of water (as a gay man in between the world wars from a foreign country and class) but he was also a lover of his friends, a sentimentalist (he carried a well read copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Tale) and enjoyed working with others who shared his way of seeing problems. In fact he was actually always pragmatic. Wittgenstein felt that philosophy’s purpose was to liberate us from the burdens of philosophy. You could even say that Wittgenstein saw the need for Truth as one of those burdens.