Genuine philosophizing is neither taught nor learned in the academe. It evolves within the context of actual practical experience whose basis is the givenness of common sense that affirms the innate intelligence of the human species. It is the begin-all of philosophizing which is generally ignored and hence has seldom been given a significant place in the academic setting. In this sense, philosophy as an activity is an articulation of empirico-pragmatic notions free from the trappings of technical academic jargons. As such, philosophy is spontaneous and never guided by superficial rules. Life as reality is a text in itself and it is in our reading of which that our so-called philosophical reflection and discourse is realized.
Praxis philosophy—which is more of a philosophizing—emanates from this point and is thus concretized as a lifestyle, an expression of one’s lebenswelt. However, its universal appeal levels off adversarial arguments advanced in the superficiality of pseudo-philosophizing which is a trivialization of philosophy pulled down to the level of mental gymnastics. With this in mind, serious philosophizing leads us to creatively widen the sphere of our exploration and in the process draw inspiration from the universal wisdom of the ancient past.
It is therefore a challenging moment for us to take a serious effort to trace back our way to the ancient path where we could hopefully find our ancestors’ wisdom that has been ignored and even at worst desecrated through time because of the onslaught of modernist consumerism. Let’s listen to the morphic resonance of ancient wisdom right in our own context however faint it is and from there write a narrative of our spiritual rootage that is in commonality with the universal spirituality that uniquely defines our humanity. This is the spirituality that jibes so well with the essence of life breathed out of the cosmic source and shared by all creation.
© Ruel F, Pepa, 9 November 2012
In the contemporary academic philosophical scene, the analytic tradition is located in the linguistic framework. It is focused on the performance of critical and analytic processes involved in the propositional interpretation and linguistic classification of statements issued and communicated from various fields of discipline. The truly philosophical aim is to make these statements more understandable and meaningful to the needs and aspirations of the human person in the context of the Third Wave Civilization or the Information Age. To echo Alvin Toffler’s words in his book Powershift, the third wave civilization, which is the post-industrial era, as the age where information matters most, gives a preeminent space for the enhancement of knowledge and understanding of accurate information. Hence, critical analytic philosophers are among the leading performers or key players in this era.
One contemporary focal point of philosophy is linguistic because many problems, controversies and hostilities, big and small, in everyday life arise from misunderstanding and confusion in language. Two people get into bitter discussion and hard bickering because each of them is using words or statements whose meanings are not clear to either one of them. One uses a word or statement whose meaning to her/him is very much different from the latter’s meaning because they have differing contexts. In other words, there is misunderstanding and confusion in meanings because of contextual vagueness or undefined context. A word, a phrase, a statement, may have different meanings in different contexts. A context is a defining locus were words or statements are used according to the understanding of their user. So that, for someone to be philosophical, s/he should first ask the word–or statement–using the latter’s meaning of what has been said. Hence, it is genuinely being philosophical in the contemporary linguistic analytic sense to ask the question, “What is your meaning of the word or phrase or statement you have just said?” or “In what definite sense are you using that word in that statement?”
It is, therefore, an exercise of philosophical discretion or philosophical attitude not to get into a discussion without identifying first the thematic context of the discussion wherein words and statements intended to be used are initially bracketed for meaning clarification. According to the great Austrian linguistic philosopher of the first half of the 20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein, the meaning of a word is in its use. The use is the context, or to appropriate the term Wittgenstein introduced in his highly acclaimed masterpiece, Philosophical Investigations, the use is located in a specific “language-game”. In other words, that which we call contextual dependence or language-game is what determines the meaning of a word or words in a statement.
The post-industrial era is the age of information requiring the criterion of accuracy in the very act of communicating all types of information. It is the age where clarity of meanings to facilitate philosophy fits well as an indispensable ally of the spheres that characterize the Third Wave Civilization.
(c) Ruel Pepa, Ph.D.