15 March 2006

On Reading Philosophy – An Emotional Rant

The Militant Pacifist is convinced that the Christian life is essentially a life of the mind. I am my mind and my mind is me. [As a Christian, in the “intermediate heaven” (i.e., before the resurrection of the body), I will exist as “pure” mind – I will “think” apart from a brain!]

If this is the case (and the Militant Pacifist asserts that it is), then one of the most noble tasks a human can engage in is that of “thinking.” Christians should be thinkers! The Militant Pacifist must be careful here, lest he stray into the enemy territory of despising non-thinkers (a constant temptation).

If you buy the Militant Pacifist’s argument so far (everything is an argument), then you will probably agree with the Militant Pacifist that – to think deeply is a highly desirable activity. Hence, you may be attracted to that scientia of thinkers - “Philosophy!” Such an attraction is pathologic; it is disease!

The Militant Pacifist suffers from the disease. Hence, while beloved friends are enjoying the latest Grisham novel, the Militant Pacifist is suffering with Derrida, or wrestling with Heidegger, or struggling with Kristeva, or contemplating Kant, or rejoicing with Clark. [I need to hurry up so I can get to that Grisham novel!]

An interesting feature of the disease is that it has caused the Militant Pacifist to become convinced that most Philosophers are fools! Maybe this should be an obvious feature of the Militant Pacifist’s thought as he claims the moniker “Christian.”

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians 1:19-21).”

But beyond this obvious Christian predisposition, the Militant Pacifist has become convinced that most Philosophers are idiots. At the time of this writing, the Militant Pacifist is struggling through Martin Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics. Though there are many deep and interesting ideas (and the Militant Pacifist realizes that this is a “work in translation”), there are many points at which the work “might as well be written in Sanskrit!”

[If you have never had the extreme pleasure of reading Brand Blanshard’s essay “On Philosophical Style,” – then by all means, do not delay! Look here http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1890318531/qid=1142476250/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-6943106-9427114?s=books&v=glance&n=283155, it is a “must read.”]

Unless your idea of “a life,” is to write something in such unreadable terms that only the select few initiates can understand it, then why would you write in such a way that only .01% of readers can understand what you are saying? If you have something to say that is not total bulls**t, then – why not SAY IT clearly. [Random thought: Maybe the goal of some writers is merely to sell books to Philosophy students.]

The Militant Pacifist admires good writing. [As a Militant Pacifist, I am open to many criticisms – but not being “well-read” is not one of them.] If the Militant Pacifist, as an educated reader, has to read your page four or five times - and then is not sure that he got your point – then friend, the Militant Pacifist will not accept the blame. The problem is this – your writing sucks! You are writing for some object other than to clearly communicate your ideas.

As one who has been around for a few years – the Militant Pacifist has come to believe that – if your ideas are not readily communicable to an educated person, then your ideas are most likely bulls**t (see On Bulls**t, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691122946/qid=1142476882/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-6943106-9427114?s=books&v=glance&n=283155)

If you are one who strives to deal in the realm of ideas (and are not just a “poser”), then by all means – write clearly and succinctly. As the great mind Gordon H. Clark taught – if you can’t explain what you mean (define your terms), then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Rant complete!

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