Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Philosophy—Together

Lately I have been craving intellectual conversation. Just real, friendly, interesting discourse. It's hard to come by in a culture where everyone sees their own worldview as an impregnable citadel to be defended instead of discussed rationally in a manner that benefits both participants. I'm genuinely curious about what other people think, but as soon as they start selling their views as right-and-wrong issues—and I can clearly see that their little hot button catch phrases are all that reside in their tiny minds—the conversation is defeating. These people don't know how to converse.

Two nights in a row I have had dreams of discussing things with people: theology, philosophy, psychology, science, and politics were among the topics. All of the conversations were enjoyable, but I don't remember ever heatedly disagreeing with anybody, which I'm sure you would expect given they were happening inside my own head. Of course, any more of this would have proved homogenous and dull. It took two nights of dreams for me to realize that I am deprived of this, and lonely. Most of the people I frequent are friendly, but they do not know how to converse, nor do they desire to. Nor does anything interest them outside of television and movies—or, since I'm a bit older now, Southern cooking and home decorating. I wish more Christians, instead of being proud of their lack of knowledge, would allow new information and diverse perspectives to humble them. Imagine discussing politics with humble people instead of arrogant ones whose beliefs are set in stone!

This is the primary reason I won't attend a Tea Party meetup. Tea Party meetups have devolved into groups that get together to talk about absolutely nothing except stuff they heard on Rush. What's the point? If I'm ever going to join a political group, the facilitator should direct the conversations to be informative, enjoyable, and fruitful.

I usually fill my desire for thought and reason with books. When I read, I can converse with philosophers, thinkers, and interesting people (although I'm sure you've realized that modern political and psychology books are trash, so this doesn't work when I pick up a bad book! Even G.K. Chesterton's snarky, sarcastic attitude bothers me; I feel like it detracts from what he is trying to say. People could be so enlightening if they would only cut the attitude!) But although reading exercises my mind, there is still something missing. There is a gaping hole: People. Connection. Dialogue. Philosophy is an action never done alone. Socrates would have been nothing more than a rambling madman if he was only given a pen and paper, but instead he improved the lives of countless young men because philosophy takes two.

Occasionally I do meet interesting people, and it is always a pleasure to talk with them about our differences, and especially about how our different experiences have influenced our worldviews. But there aren't enough people out there who are sure enough of themselves to know who they are or intelligent enough to have formed their own opinions outside of their circle of influence. There is also a great dearth of people who are well-read, even in the age of free classics. I can't expect everyone to be interested in the same things I am. But I wish I had more friends I could talk to on this level who aren't afraid of it. (I do have a few.) Perhaps we could learn from each other. Will you accept my invitation?

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