Philosophy Mondays | A reply to my readers

philosopher v2On the 31st of July I posed a question to my readers. The number of replies was encouraging and since there is sufficient interest in philosophy, I have decided to take the plunge and share a part of what I have written on the subject.

There were some very good suggestions for future questions, and in time I will attempt to tackle each of them.

For the time being, however, I will begin with aspects of philosophy I am familiar with and hope that these will be of interest to others as well.

The range of future articles will differ from one another both in the density and complexity of the subject matter, as well as in the manner in which I approach them. Some will be easier to digest than others, but I will do my best to clarify the more obscure points and write introductions that will hopefully make it easier to delve into unfamiliar territory. I will also do my best to ensure that there is a post on the topic on the Monday of every week, hence the Philosophy Mondays tag.

My first philosophy series will consider the relationship between body and mind established by Spinoza in the Ethics and will assess its challenge to the model of the Cartesian cogito; with the first article in the series, being dedicated to introducing Spinoza and giving a context to how his Ethics was received by contemporaries and others.

I’ve opted to make it a series, rather than one post, because the length of it would otherwise exceed 5,000 words and while I would love to think that each and every one of you would take the time to read it all, it would certainly make it easier and I hope more enjoyable too, to have it available in this alternative format.

As you are probably already aware, the word philosopher translates from ancient Greek as “lover of wisdom”, so to all of you lovers of wisdom who will be joining me on this journey: thank you. I hope it will be a rewarding one for all.

Odd Trio Redux

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Who do you think you are?

descartes_blogger

Why blog? Why not keep a journal instead: a private escape for one’s thoughts, a keeper of secrets, a chalice to hold one’s innermost fears and desires. A journal will not be subjected to the scrutiny of anonymous readers. It will not open itself to judgement and criticism. Unless… it is discovered.

Like journal-writing, blogging is in many respects a private affair. We pour shards of our existence onto the page. Our words reveal as much as they conceal. A narrative develops over time and new truths are weaved into the old, at times displacing them. As for the elephant in the room? Ah yes. That small issue of it being public.

I was a child tiptoeing into adulthood when I started my first journal. Two weeks or so into the attempt I gave it up as a bad job. “Life is dull” was my swift conclusion. Or at least, this I thought of my life as it squiggled in ink on the page, and there was little fun to be had in chronicling pedestrian trials and tribulations. The following day I invented a story instead. My fictional alter-ego surpassed all expectations. There were adventures to be had, mysteries to be uncovered and unknowables to be explored. And, there was something else that appealed about this alternative: I could take others along on the journey by sharing my stories.

And this is the advantage any blog will always have over a journal: it is created to be shared, an endeavour that connects us with others and in doing so, it enriches our experience of story-telling, be that in the guise of writers, photographers, or artists.

There is a degree of danger associated with blogging: we can never be certain of our audience’s reaction. As a writer I am all too familiar with those negative voices in one’s head, the ones that whisper from the empty page, challenging: “Who do you think you are? What makes you think that you have something to say worthy of being read?” These demons do not discriminate. They haunt the greats and beginners alike.

Defining what constitutes good content will always be an exercise in subjectivity. Each blogger and reader are likely to have their own view of what is “good”. My first steps into the blogosphere were digital footprints of former experiences and creative passions. In time I learnt that good writing is never self-indulgent and always aims to serve the reader rather than yours truly (the writer).

There is one stumbling block that I ought to acknowledge before I say my goodbyes. Of late my blogging and writing commitments have been vying for mastery over the most precious of all resources: Time. There is a catch to being a writer: you have to write. The same goes for blogging. I am searching for a formula that will accommodate both without damaging the quality of either. When I discover it, I will be sure to let you know. Then again, you may be “in the know” already. If so… Care to share?