ENTRY 1223 | February 17 2012
The previous blog
introduced the new breakthrough in my thinking that any intelligent
person can be and in the right circumstances is a philosopher. Though I
didn't actually say it, I strongly implied that writing newspaper or
magazine editorials (opinion pieces) is an example of doing philosophy.
And while I have philosophized on this topic since then in my own
mind, I also realized that an old criticism I had made of former
President George W. Bush is an error if my new insight into philosophy
and philosophizing is valid.
his first campaign for his party's nomination as the presidential
candidate, a debate moderator asked the candidates who their favorite
philosopher was. Bush replied, "Jesus," which struck me (though I
was glad to know his high regard for Jesus and his willingness to admit
this before the watching world) as fallacious on the grounds that Jesus
was not a philosopher. But the new insight is that, of course Jesus was
a philosopher. He spoke and preached philosophically every where and at
all times throughout his three-year ministry. His messages of love and
reconciliation were and remain revolutionary philosophical tenets that
have been changing the world ever since and will continue doing so
until the age comes to its close.
be sure, Jesus was not a philosopher in the same sense Socrates, Plato,
and Aristotle (already the standard-bearers in the
philosophy of the world Jesus was born into); pursuit of knowledge was
not Jesus' full-time or most important occupation, nor did He promote
his revolutionary ideas as being new matrixes of all thinking or of
grasping everything important in the cosmos, as new philosophies are expected to
do. He was not teaching students (people whose main occupation is studying) the way the three Greek
philosophers cited did; He taught everyone He encountered how to live more productively and redemptively.
for that reason He is remembered more as a teacher of religion rather than of
philosophy, for however much the difference between the two matters. Yet,
in the tradition of Moses the lawgiver, David the writer of many of the psalms,
Solomon the writer of
the proverbs, and the prophets of Israel, what Jesus taught is
philosophy as well as "religion": His teachings form minds even as they
transform lives and give reasons for living. And to the extent that any
idea or precept forms a "mind," it is philosophy. And, here's another
"philosophical" thought: Jesus was a man—the man for mankind, ecce homo, to quote Pontius Pilate—without laying
aside His eternal deity for even a minute. And since with God there is
no "time" as temporal beings like us understand it, it's not even
necessary to say that God became a man only "temporarily."
my great philosophical breakthrough is that everyone is (now and then)
a philosopher, its sad corollary is that most people are not
nearly often enough. I earlier said that any time someone looks up a
word in the dictionary she is beginning to put on his philosopher cap,
but the sad truth also is that most people don't look up words in the
dictionary nearly often enough. We'd rather indulge our laziness than
do the "work" of looking up a word, even now when just highlighting and
left-clicking on words enables us to go directly to a definition in
most computer applications. We're not smart enough for our smart
phones, much of the time, at least.
that illustrate that we are not philosophers nearly often enough
are found in what are commonly called "gotcha questions." Perhaps the
most effective one making the rounds now is, "how does allowing
same-sex couples to marry threaten your marriage?" Gotcha! If you're like me, even though I don't even have a marriage
and even if I'm convinced that redefining marriage in that way
threatens not my marriage but threatens marriage as a whole at its
roots, it threatens the family as the bedrock institution of
civilization, and by extension it threatens the very civilization we
all live in—if
you're much like me, you'll probably stammer and say something like,
"well, if you put it that way..." and by failing to answer imply that
you're okay with "gay marriage" after all, even if you've signed the Manhattan Declaration. And that's because philosophizing—thinking something through and speaking based on that—is work, and casual conversation should never be work, right?
"marriage" is not a matter of fairness to homosexuals (whoever they
are, because the definition of that term is far from settled in our
culture as a whole) but whoever they are, I'm for treating them fairly.
But the more basic question is what's in the best interest of the
children among us and the generations of children to follow us, and the
further sexualizing of our culture, our schools, their curriculum and
by extension, our children. It's about who gets to define "marriage"—should
it be defined in the "natural law" long considered the basis of all
civil society as it has been ever since "marriage" came into
existence, or should "marriage" be defined by the state in accord with
its latest attempt to further consolidate its power over more of our
lives? If, as the Declaration of Independence declares and our nation's
Constitution confirms, "natural law" is the basis of our states'
and nation's laws, how can we put ourselves and our human government
above that law? And how could anyone asking us to do that be considered
are all philosophical questions. But they require work and such work is
unpopular. And so, woe be to the popular democracies of the world.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy