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"As we well know, the imbecility of "profound"
philosophers is so immense that it is exceeded
only by the infinite mercy of God." - Giovanni Papini

The Challenge for Modern Philosophy
Updated: 08/12/2020

Here is how Will Durant paints the challenge for modern philosophy:

 …. Human knowledge had become unmanageably vast; every science had begotten a dozen more, each subtler than the rest; the telescope revealed stars and systems beyond the mind of man to number or to name; geology spoke in terms of millions of years, where men before had thought in terms of thousands; physics found a universe in the atom, and biology found a microcosm in the cell; physiology discovered inexhaustible mystery in every organ, and psychology in every dream; anthropology reconstructed the unsuspected antiquity of man, archeology unearthed buried cities and forgotten states, history proved all history false, and painted a canvas which only a Spengler or an Eduard Meyer could vision as a whole; theology crumbled, and political theory cracked; invention complicated life and war, and economic creeds overturned governments and inflamed the world; philosophy Itself, which had once summoned all sciences to its aid in making a coherent image of the world and an alluring picture of the good, found its task of coordination too stupendous for its courage, ran away from all these battlefronts of truth, and hid itself in recondite and narrow lanes, timidly secure from the issues and responsibilities of life. Human knowledge had become too great for the human mind.

All that remained was the scientific specialist, who knew "more and more about less and less," and the philosophical speculator, who knew less and less about more and more. The specialist put on blinders in order to shut out from his vision all the world but one little spot, to which he glued his nose. Perspective was lost. "Facts" replaced understanding; and knowledge, split into a thousand isolated fragments, no longer generated wisdom. Every science, and every branch of philosophy, developed a technical terminology intelligible only to its exclusive devotees; as men learned more about the world, they found themselves ever less capable of expressing to their educated fellow-men what it was that they had learned. The gap between life and knowledge grew wider and wider; those who governed could not understand those who thought, and those who wanted to know could not understand those who knew. In the midst of unprecedented learning popular ignorance flourished, and chose its exemplars to rule the great cities of the world; in the midst of sciences endowed and enthroned as never before, new religions were born every day, and old superstitions recaptured the ground they had lost. The common man found himself forced to choose between a scientific priesthood mumbling unintelligible pessimism, and a theological priesthood mumbling incredible hopes.

In this situation the function of the professional teacher was clear. It should have been to mediate between the specialist and the nation; to learn the specialist's language, as the specialist had learned nature's, in order to break down the barriers, between knowledge and need, and find for new truths old terms that all literate people might understand. For if knowledge became too great for communication, it would degenerate into scholasticism, and the weak acceptance of authority; mankind would slip into a new age of faith, worshiping at a respectful distance its new priests; and civilization, which had hoped to raise itself upon education disseminated far and wide, would be left precariously based upon a technical erudition that had become the monopoly of an esoteric class monastically isolated from the world by the high birth rate of terminology. No wonder that all the world applauded when James Harvey Robinson sounded the call for the removal of these barriers and the humanization of modern knowledge.

Durant, Will, The Story of Philosophy, Washington Square Press, New York, NY, 1967, p. vii

Where is the philosopher who would not willingly
deceive mankind for his own glory? -  J. J. Rousseau

Is it knowledge or just information?

It is quite fashionable for western modern man to think that knowledge is increasing, but this depends on your definition of knowledge. Maybe information is increasing, but is this knowledge? It is certain that intellectual noise and confusion are increasing! It is certain that religious sects and bifurcations of spiritual thought are increasing.

The real issue in an age of information overload is whether understanding or wisdom is increasing. While longevity may be increasing, the "Human Condition" produces a tenuous balance between the sustenance and the enhancement of life. There may even be an increase in comfort and ease, leisure time, learning, etc., but all of this may actually build up stress and may not add up to an increase in meaning, richness of experience, morale and happiness, truer measures of the enhancement of life.

It is a premise of this site that for the spiritual man, the meaning of life is being drowned in an ocean of mundane information, false religion, and unworthy philosophy. In this world it has been observed, "For in much wisdom is much grief; he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow." And the "Good News" from the appointed emissary is buried by multifarious layers of distraction, spiritual and intellectual numbness, confusion and false belief.

It is also a premise of this site that all of extant philosophy to this point in time is a somewhat arid and academic wasteland. Traditional philosophy has never really dealt with the ultimate issues, much less focused on them.

There is no meaning to anything apart from its impact on the sustenance and enhancement of life. And yet traditional philosophy has failed in this most central regard, although it has expounded upon a myriad of lesser facets and issues. Where is the philosophy or wisdom that has made the sustenance and enhancement of life the core of its exposition? Where is the philosophy that has enabled us to transcend our staggering to the grave? Where even is the philosophy that has more than marginally enhanced life? Modern academic philosophy excuses itself from these more meaningful, ultimate issues!

The Immortalist position

Here is what Alan Harrington has to say in his insightful book The Immortalist:

But the immortalist position is that all philosophical systems relating to ethical conduct and the end of man, insofar as they teach us sportingly to accept extinction, are a waste of time.  In the face of death, such wisdom is a waste of time.  The philosophy that accepts death must itself be considered dead, its questions meaningless, its consolations worn out. (If the philosophy does not bother with life and death, confining itself, say, to our semantic confusions in approaching knowledge, then it must be judged profound but trivial, which is to say profoundly unimportant.)

Formal philosophy has dissevered itself from "Theology" and excused itself from any exposition regarding the beginning of or source for evil. Evil is the elephant in the living room that is ignored by the most prominent philosophers, scientists and thinkers. Most are obsessed with trying to explain origins and processes without an "originator" through a dozen different evolutionary protocols, and offer the most fantastical suggestions ranging from an infinite number of universes and possibilities, to minimalist socio-biology, or to even ideas that the whole physical universe is an intelligent living being or organism. But they studiously ignore dealing with evil, something that each one of us has to deal with every day.

Today, most scientists have given up on philosophy and have concentrated on just learning more about the physical universe, which translates into more power and control over our environment. Thus Stephen Hawking, quite arrogantly, has pronounced philosophy as being dead. Philosophy is now marginalized as just being in the purview of arcane academia, and is not thought to have much of a role in real life. Courses in philosophy usually are no longer required or even encouraged in our colleges and universities. "Real" learning about science or the business of life has crowded them out as being largely irrelevant.

Philosophy, essentially synonymous with wisdom, has been severely degraded in value, and the pursuit of it has all but been abandoned. The confusion of our busy, noisy world has evidently caused modern man largely to give up on this most important element of life. Probably the only philosopher to have made a significant contribution or impact since Nietzsche is the irreverent, irrepressible Ayn Rand. Although she mislabeled it negatively as "selfishness" she made enlightened self interest respectable if not the obvious stance to take. It took thousands of years to get to this point? Amazing and deplorable!

Now, let me lay out a perspective. It is not philosophers–the seekers of wisdom–but academic personnel, the clergy, and politicians that are largely in control of three of the most powerful or influential facets of our society: education, religion and government. This is done through both formal and informal public dissemination of “official” positions and thinking. And the formal educational structure and process have almost totally lost being in touch with good metaphysical and epistemological principles, such as no mysticism and no reification allowed, to name just two. In this era any person that stands up to them is in the unenviable position of being a Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

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