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9-2 108 Forum - Rochelle - Response to Amir

9-2 108 Forum - Rochelle - Response to Amir

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Published by: fsolomon on Feb 07, 2013
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Philosophy and non-philosophers: a short response to Lydia Amir
I apologise for being in the privileged position to respond first to Lydia Amir’s challenge to report on tenets, beliefs and ideals which characterise philosophy whilst being at odds with many non-philosophers. At the same time, I am pleased to take up her challenge - one I believe overdue and brimming with promise. This response is drawn from my ‘Personal Diary of NU-Philosophical Engagements with Strangers’, though neither the diary itself nor the information I give here can claim to be empirical data of the scientific kind. I will take one of the ethical values which Amir describes and contextualises so clearly - love. My experience of Exchanging the Word leads me to a different conclusion than Amir. In Exchanging the Word - as a philosopher working with non-philosophers who do not necessarily even suspect philosophy as a thing-initself is part of the exchange - I find myself confronted by the full impact of nonphilosophical philosophising. The process of Exchanging the Word can characterise established or sought after attitudes to many things which are commonly deemed philosophical - and love is one of them. I have found that being wise and virtuous, having friends, and having an ability to stand against adversity, high on the agenda for many non-philosophers concerned with broadly philosophical ideas. Love of God can be common in some geographical areas and societies. Sometimes faithful belief in a religion can be characterised as ‘blind faith’, in the same way that faithful belief in the worth of a particular social, political or economic group or claimed identity with political or economic view can often seem more the product of unquestioning acceptance and belief than in belief as a product of reflective questioning. As such, it has the character of dogma. In others, the possible attraction of faith is shrugged off without a care. Love of, or even welcoming of, fate as such is rare, though a belief in fate as an instrument of the individual’s future life is common. Human love does, I agree, feature high - it is for many the greatest aim, as though from its acquisition will flow all good things. But there is suspicion of love too - that relationships fail and with them so does its then reliant love. The tying-in of love to relationships in this way is very strong in some. Few non-philosophers, in my experience, will talk much about love without talking about how it relates to relationship. This is an interesting correlation and one which spawns much confusion. It is certainly one which allows any concept of love as a thing in itself to become readily subsumed into what is often the morass of human interaction. Though love is a little discussed topic in mainstream academic philosophy, if it does arise, it is, like God, dealt with as an abstract quality more strongly metaphysical than practical. It may be that philosophy can learn much from the common grounding of non-philosopher’s views of love residing as an easily corrupted companion to the capricious and often changing world of relationships. Editor 
08 http://www.practical-philosophy.org.uk Practical Philosophy, Vol. 9.2. July 2008

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