The Task of a Philosopher Herman L.


A philosopher of imposing stature doesn’t think in a vacuum, even his most abstract ideas are, to some extent, conditioned by what is or what is not known in the time when he lives. -A.N. Whitehead (Dialogues) Never in the history of philosophy did philosophers philosophize in a vacuum, at least those genuine ones, though many people in the street thought they do. If you have in mind that there was, be reticent, you must have misunderstood of them. Unfortunately, they are often perennially misunderstood by the multitude so that little did people knew that philosophers are actually talking about reality right before our eyes. People just could not get it. There is always a very popular perception against philosophy as abstract, speculative, or some kinds of a useless intellectual acrobatic completely way off the question of reality. Pick up one person in the street at random; ask him what he thinks about philosophy or philosopher, he or she would tend to go on with his/her business rather than answering your question, at least, if you happen to get a polite one, or else you might get a blunt who-cares response. But this is not exact the way many people would

respond when they are asked about movie stars or showbiz events. Take how many people are nailed to television screens obsessed on the thrill of whose going to be evicted from sa Bahay ni Kuya. People think they prefer entertainment rather than philosophy without knowing the fact that there are a lot of philosophical content in it. Bahay ni Kuya is not just about celebrity housemates, it is a television category program called reality show as they popularly call it. Even in entertainments we must be aware that the underpinning philosophy is that of person’s attempt to grasp what is real, and such an enterprise is absolutely philosophical. Hence, philosophers from time immemorial have to contend with their vocation to be unpopular. The truth is popularity puts one vocation to philosophy at great risk; it distracts reflection, and mess up thinking. Philosophers are humans, no matter how they pretend to be mentally tough, they get affected by praise of criticisms, unlike computers, they can be influenced in their judgments and they ideas can be overwhelmed by popular expectations. Being unknown, in fact, works to their advantage. And so, this did not deter the great thinkers to articulate their thoughts even if nobody listens to them that is why most of them recourse to commit their ideas in writings hoping that future generation might be able to take notice of it. Not few of these writings however were left in the realm of oblivion but we also have to acknowledge that those few being notice are very much beneficial to us today. While it cannot be denied that there are compendium of philosophical treatises which deserved to be committed to the flames, as David Hume boldly suggests, I would rather assume that such suggestion must be obeyed with extraordinary caution for it could have been a worst mistake to out rightly dismissed with contempt what might be in fact valuable beyond our understanding and appreciation. It is my fear that philosophy is guiltier in trashing to the garbage ideas with substantial worth, than tearing off its rubbish products of mind-boggling enterprise. The fact that philosophical trend nowadays are so much preoccupied by fast changing influential thoughts in an intellectual power play in which the rule of the game depends on how


one achieve in overthrowing the previous established philosophical systems seems to confirm this observation. Hegel’s dialectic method seems to be standard of such struggle except that anti-thesis becomes the ultimate goal and that synthesis becomes out of the question. Criticism is the fundamental role of philosophy; criticism is philosophies most hideous enterprise. The task of philosopher must see to it that by his ideas, we must be able to come up with something. If one pushes Derrida’s deconstruction to the limit, he/she must admit that the trajectory is, in fact, reconstruction so that both terms actually refer to the same thing or the same event. And because philosophers cannot start from nothing, they will always end up in something. Crime against metaphysics From the time of the ancient Greek philosophy, metaphysics is often thought of a discipline of pure abstraction. In our times, abstraction gain notoriety; it is cheap. Thus, metaphysics, of all branches of philosophy earns a great notoriety as way off the mark in so far as reality is concern. Metaphysicians of course would disagree with this yet they cannot help but endure such kind of reputation with a dismal feeling of being highly misunderstood as their useless consolation. Of course, there are many ways of doing metaphysics but what we precisely mean here by the term is the western traditional understanding of it which is Aristotelian-medieval metaphysics. My impression however is that much of our present understanding are drawn from its critics rather than from its allies. Thus, at least, even in the academic community here in Caraga, there is that overwhelming view of metaphysics as contrasted to the real. This view raises two fundamental problems: one, it drives metaphysics away from the realm of reality; two, it reduces the understanding of reality within the realm of concrete empirical world. Beginning with the onslaught late modern or early contemporary philosophy led by Nietzsche, and the existentialist down the line, coupled with the logical positivist and philosophers of language which shifted later on to hermeneutics and philosophy of mind, and with a bit of American contribution

like adding salt to injury by way of pragmatism, metaphysics then is send into a critical stage of what the canonists called articulo mortis which urgently necessitates a priest to administer the final rites. But the recent history of philosophy is not over yet, postmodernism gets into the picture and finish the job to make sure that metaphysics is dead beyond resurrection. Nothing can be done to it except to administer its funeral service or to write an in memoriam of it. Some prominent universities in the country nowadays are not offering metaphysics anymore to philosophy major students, and if they do, it will be Buddhist or Hindu metaphysics, or Heideggerian metaphysics. It is a new way of doing metaphysics in different paradigm. Thus, western traditional metaphysics has purely been relegated to the past, obsolete for that matter. It is a sad fate of metaphysics died at the expense of the apparent triumph of its of murderers who do not directly hate it but to the institutions that harnessed it for hundred of years. There is however a truism when its defeat is to be construed as the triumph of philosophy as if great thinkers were able to breathe the sigh of relief after to the fall of ever imposition intellectual giant back up by political power and ecclesiastical influence. This philosophical trend is not yet however here in our seminary. Some may call our philosophy as backward but being ‘backward’ is a contestable term. Conceding that it is, at least, we have not succumb to the lure of postmodernism avoiding the deconstructive treat that goes along with it. The risk of becoming isolated philosophical school is imminently possible in one hand but the possibility having a philosophy that goes out of the way is also avoided on another hand. At the moment the attack against metaphysics is even becoming more powerful, and thus far, we really do not have any idea when our inclination to metaphysical thinking gives up. Naa o wala But what is metaphysics in the first place? In layman’s understanding metaphysics today is synonymous to an empty sky, abstract concept, and out of reach reality. Of course, this is not the case among scholars but at least in


our Faculty, teachers including those who have PhD degrees do have such level of understand towards metaphysics. They would often go back to the etymological concept of μετα; and so they are quick to pronounce a sentence to metaphysics as concern only of the beyond to the demise of the φύσϊς. Such understanding in fact in not totally far-fetched from what Aristotle had in mind. Well, most likely Aristotle would say yes it is, but it is not exactly what it is. Indeed, it was on the basis of this understanding that all the philosophical disciplines’ abhorrence towards metaphysics mentioned above gain its justification. Thus, from its very etymological meaning what comes after (μετα) the physics obviously sounds truly off course. It is to be remembered however that it was Andronicus of Rhodes, one of the early students of Aristotle, not Aristotle, who coined the term metaphysics. One, on the contrary, must bear in mind that the metaphysics of Aristotle are all found in the book The Physics (φύσϊς). This clearly suggests that Aristotle was in fact dealing with what exists or what is there. To think therefore of Aristotle for dealing with what is not in the φύσϊς (physical world) may not pay justice to one of the greatest thinkers humanity have produced. Andronicus of Rhodes in an attempt to capture the thoughts of his master rightly prefixed the word μετα in order to provide an implication which all-encompassing in so far as the understanding of the whole reality or everything that is, is concern. What he did not have anticipated however was the possibility that such a prefix would lead to the demise of his master’s thoughts later on. And so, instead of metaphysics being primarily concern with what is real and everything that is, or being as beings, metaphysics in the last century had been conceived as off-real, off-everything, and off-being. Such understanding portrays metaphysics beyond recognition from that of the original intended subject of its fathers, and it is not even accurate to impute this whole mess to Andronicus of Rhodes for certainly he never intend to destroy his mentor’s ideas beyond repair. In fact, there was a unanimous consent of medieval thinkers to patronize the term without any problem at all with so much devotion that students in philosophy begin to have an

impression that Aristotle did write a book entitled МЕЂАДЎЅІК. The history of philosophy testifies to the fact that it was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that the term began to earn its malicious meaning. If modern philosophers are willing for give fair evaluation to Aristotle, and the succeeding metaphysicians down the line, I think it is much better put these thinkers in squaring off reality. The failure to appreciate metaphysical wisdom is an indication of a very fundamental mistake that is of being remiss, in looking at the connection between reality and metaphysics. To dissociate metaphysics from reality is a gross misinterpretation and underestimation of the wisdom of metaphysics motivated by the fear of being in lieu for what is nothing. It is without a doubt that the attacked against metaphysics is not devoid of any basis whatsoever. The most common accusation of which we often heard from its adversaries is the employment of universal metaphysical term. Universals do not exist. The problem in fact started in late medieval polemic between the realist and nominalist but reaches in benign state at the time of Neitzsche which culminates with the postmodernist. What do we have are Pedro, Juan, Pablo, etc, not man. Man is a convenient fiction so as we can have a unified idea about Pedro, Pablo, and Juan. Thus, man per se is not real. It is a created concept necessary for epistemic purposes. This is entirely true to all metaphysical terms; they all don’t exist, being does not exist; what is in the realm of existence are particular things (cf. Nietzsche, Foucault, et al.). This idea seems to be very enticingly eye-opener to neophytes. It provokes a realization how remiss were we not to see a glaring fact that things we use to talk about are actually non-existent and therefore, outside the realm of reality. It is perfectly a normal tendency to feel good about something we thought others do not know. With a bit of intellectual pride, we always feel in an advantage situation knowing that others having yet realized the looming philosophical confusion that brought philosophical chaos as if we are the only ones holding the key to resolve such centuries old philosophical puzzles. I am specifically referring to my postmodernist students who took Nietzsche’s


writings as sacred text and whose intellectual caliber is extremely way high than their professor in his undergraduate philosophy. And for them, medieval thinking is a sheer intellectual showdown of conventual religious philosophers cut off from outside world, out of touched from reality. There is a truism to this accusation though certainly not mature enough to discretely weigh between the balance of intellectual accumulation and prudential judgments gained by experience. No modest thinker can out rightly dispense the longest period of philosophical enterprise as pure medieval rubbish without stepping beyond the bounds of deliberative opinionating, though one may still argue that duration does not guarantee good philosophy, logic does. Universals cannot be dispensed if we want to render reality intelligible for which is the most instinctual mental tendency. I am not sure if I do need to share this with other people, but, when I get into metaphysics, I really feel that such study is a useless passion. Now that I am no longer a novice in philosophy, I feel too late did I able to appreciate its wisdom. At the end of the day the greatest metaphysical proposition is simply that there is. One cannot belittle Nietzsche when he says there is not, he truly does make sense to me, but humanity must think that philosophy can only offer him choices, not a choice. She intends to leave something for us to do. I am not redirecting philosophy to go back to the worn out ideas of the ancient and medieval metaphysics but it is unwise to completely dispense it with repugnance. It must be admitted that had Aristotelian metaphysics and Christian philosophy never existed, there will be few things left for Nietzsche and the post-modernists to philosophize or nothing at all. And even if the best way to deal about traditional metaphysics is not to keep talking about it, still much of our most influential thoughts cannot be rightfully understood without going back to the philosophy we just completely dispensed. Nevertheless we could then be confronted with the question: Is it possible to come up with a philosophy that is completely detached from any historical precedence? This means, doing a genuine philosophy solely on the basis of our present experiences and having without any reference at all from the evolution

thoughts. Even if we assume that this is within the bounds of possibility, still we have to reckon to the fact that there has never been anyone who was able to do that. And if we become so adamant in our insistence, it would be the height of one’s optimism to figure out a pretty much well thought- a product of philosophical reflection. Obviously, such position becomes hardly tenable. On the other hand, it is much simpler to acknowledge the relevance of the study on metaphysics while at the same time acknowledging our indebtedness to it whether positively or negatively. It is not a good thing for postmodernist to dogmatically hold on their assumption that there is not, not that they are wrong, for this will mean the exclusion of those who held that there is, thus, they are as guilty as to those they sternly criticized. One should consider where the new paradigm of metaphysics is leading to. And if its adherents are willing to concede, it has to be clear that it heads towards wala (nothing), though this wala resembles the tao (One) of Buddhism. Therefore that is not exactly the wala as we commonly understand for it may be at the same time ‘everything’. This sense projects us back to Western metaphysics. But if the common understanding of the wala is being used, then by juxtaposing these competing metaphysics, it would then appear obviously that the naa (being) is better off than the wala (nothing). In love with reality All philosopher love reality more than ordinary people do. And because they are in love with it so much, they are not taking it for granted. They took reality very seriously that people think they have gone up too far. If we are to be sensitive to this sentiment, it is therefore the task of philosophers to articulate philosophy’s lofty ideas in such a manner that it will be sensible to ordinary people. It has nothing to do of course for popularity purpose but for philosophy to make sense in every walk of life. Of course this is the pursuit of every philosopher but that sometimes, not a fault of their own, people choose to be more convenient in their naïve world without considering the truth or falsity in it. Some people thought that convenient falsehood is


better than the discomforting truth. Such is the common attitude of bystanders who are uncongenial to postmodernist philosophy since convenience is indubitably experienced; truth on the other hand, is what keeps people debating. If reality is that which we are seeking for, then all we have to do is to be faithful to it. But what exactly we have to do as Bisayan in trying to make sense out of philosophy if our task is to throw the dice of philosophy we discussed in the class into the language-game of Bisayan students? Paying attention to our local language-game At this point, we must bear in mind with tremendous importance to own this task simply because this is exactly what great philosophers are doing in their own way, and therefore, I suppose, they would also expect us to do it in our own way as Bisayan. Just everything under the sun, philosophy most importantly is a language-dependent discipline. Let us face it; people can only have access with our ideas in as much as it is coined in language either in the eloquence of our utterance or in our ability to commit out thought into writings. We are not dispensing the possibility of an inarticulate philosopher but that could be hard to figure out. Ordinarily we impart our ideas through language and this is the only medium we prefer to deal. Thus, our initial endeavor is to pay attention to how Bisayan people use their language. It is crucial to zoom in to few important Bisayan words which to our evaluation depict their worldviews, and explain their profundity as best as we can but never attempt to translate it in English or in any other languages. These words have unique signification of their own that they cannot be translated without losing their essential meaning. If the meaning is endemic to a language, don’t bring it out from it. Let the reader or listener enter into the language-game. Two things are necessary here: our ability to put into words what we accurately mean, and the willingness of the other to enter into our world that gives birth to our meaning. The latter is what we oftentimes do in our philosophy so far, at least, in our seminary; we have not done yet the former.

We boggle and crack our heads so much just to be able to break the walls that surround the world of the Ancient Greece just to catch a glimpse of the minds of Plato, Aristotle, Parmenides, and others. But we have not yet invited others to peer into our little Bisayan world. It may be not as grandiose as the Greeks, or Germans, or French, but it is still a world in its own right anyway. We do not entertain the idea of aiming like them as landmarks of human wisdom; we do intend only to say that we do not simply exist as recipients of great thinkers’ ideas, we exist and that we also have something to share. In philosophy, earning and sharing ideas happen at the same time. The more you take the pain of sharing your ideas, the more ideas come up with more of your own. Reversely, the more you learn ideas from others, the more compelling it is to bring such ideas to others who have not heard about it. Outside from this dialectics, philosophy does not exist. Earning a degree in philosophy does not make one a philosopher, philosophizing does make one. Critical thinking is the most common philosophical attitude; but it is when one humbly allows his/her thought to be criticized that makes him/her a mature thinker. It is a sad thing that Pilipino understanding of philosophers as nuisance critics, thus, Pilosopo; few have realized that classical philosophical thought are those which stand timeless critical evaluation of different historical and geographical settings. Knowing that his/her idea is highly prone to criticism, a philosopher must be armored with the virtue of humility and openness. Philosophy does not recognize any other authority other than that of reason, and that all other forms of authority must bend their knee to it. Even Foucault who championed the cause of the unreason, that is, the insane, abnormal, the eccentric, the weird, etc, is himself making his case using the framework of reason. Lay down your ideas The fact is, there is something in our world to be written, or needs to be written. There are brilliant minds in the marketplace which vanish in a thin air when they are simply uttered but not written. The problem however when


ideas are committed to writing is that they will be fixated or may be fossilized. But one of the beautiful things if ideas are put into writings is that is becomes open to criticism. If a philosopher believes in his philosophy, he must be willing to submit his ideas before the court of rational discourse. This attitude must be inculcated to future priests. Well, in fact, all the more for the older ones. Remember, when they become priests, they will be most of the time preaching to converts, people who already believe, congregation who are no longer ready to hear other than what they expect. Again remember, it is perfectly natural that they willingly empower the preacher. And if priests simply think within the frameworks of their faith of which of course they are not supposed to go otherwise, then everything is settled. Faith is strengthened and priests are eventually empowered. I have to say very firmly that there is nothing wrong with this. Authority is crucial in teaching. Foucault hated it that is why he unraveled its malice. Yes, knowledge is power back up, and power produce knowledge. Well, okay! He is correct, so here we are, and we must employ authority in order to have effective pedagogy. But do not forget our Master’s reminder: Don’t lord them. It is a common tendency that authority and intelligence seldom go together. Preachers love only to deliver unilaterally their sermons to converts and avoid their critics. Charismatic priests love to preach all the way in their community, but such power and conviction mellows down before the critical ears of their fellow priests. If we are very careful before critics, why can’t we before converts? And if we are completely convinced of the truth that we preach, well, it wouldn’t make any difference when we deliver it either to critics or converts. I don’t think we can be as effect without the authority endowed in us by Christ the day we get ordained. But authority alone, our evangelization may not be healthy. Priests, just like Jesus and the Apostles, make their sermons to believers and nonbelievers alike. Seminarians must be trained to speak or write their ideas not just to converts but also to critics. When critics are absent, priests should not breathe the sigh of relief. Priests must not be threatened by the critics’ comments; they are of great help. In preaching, we see people who are listening to us, and people feel our authority in the pulpit. In writing, we are

they want without holding bars. A wise priest listens more to comments about him without his presence. If criticism is to be taken positively with open minds, then there is nothing to fear about laying down our cards. As the wise advice of a Bishop, “Let us listen to what people say about us without our presence.” Philosophical attitude Some truth are self-evident, some are not. And those which are not are oftentimes more profound ones. The ordinary attitude is to take short-cuts. The shorter is the way, the less effort spent to reach its end. Taking a shortcut is not unphilosophical approach; I do not think it is wise to label it with intellectual indolence. William of Occam had already his razor during the Middle Ages and even in our modern science continues to uphold its principle of parsimony up to our day. Yet reality may not be as clear cut as we want to see, it is so complex that it cannot be dealt with in black and white without becoming naïve. The trouble when we get into complicated matters is the fact that ordinary people keep on demanding from us simplistic explanations. And because philosophers tend to refuse to their insistence, then questions are immediately given up and broken away from philosophers with disgust. No matter how the philosophers feel sorry for such a complicated situation, they just simply feel that they cannot help it, we must take the labyrinth. But even if relationship breaks down, the task of philosopher lies on his ability to maintain communication for his sensibility is measured by the degree in which he is understood. If it refuses the minds of ordinary people, then his philosophy will be what Wittgenstein called language goes on holiday. Language goes on holiday We already suggested above to make use of local Bisayan words that contain pregnant philosophical insights in outlining our worldview which gave birth to our own philosophy. These words are so crucial for there will be


no other words to replace them to represent the meaning that is intimately embedded in our own LebensWelt, to borrow the term of Edmund Husserl. That means that meaning of our vernacular words are perfectly grounded in us. It is highly possible to have a well grasped of western philosophy, but no matter how well versed we are in them, that is not our ultimate pursuit as philosophers since that doesn’t necessarily mean an articulation of the world that is in us. It is ideal in fact if we can do it in Bisaya but, I think for the time being, our language, we must accept, is not yet thoroughly equipped to describe highly philosophical concepts which of course, if employed properly, could be of great help to associate with our local philosophical terms. For the time being, we have to contend with few Bisayan words from which we can expound into philosophical concept that can be at par with that of the Greeks, Germans, French, Indian, Chinese, etc. Taking the first step The original intention is not actually to earn the same category of reputation to that of the great thinkers. In fact, our purpose it not to be philosophers since title practically does not make sense but, at any rate, is to make use of philosophical method in dealing with the crucial issues of our times. It could be either way: to bring issues into philosophy in order to have them treated in our ordinary discourse, or to apply philosophical analysis on issues that concern the public outside so that philosophy will be solidly grounded to the concrete. This is a monotonous cry of philosophical enterprise, the only thing that is left to do is to start doing it. And to start doing it is not settle in a nook, bang your head, squeezing your brain for brilliant insight to come out. No, to begin with, there must be no element of burden. Take one simple topic of your choice anything under the sun, imagine an audience, and start talking with them in an atmosphere of leisure. Thus, just set down in you computer and start exercising you fingers some kind of acupressure massage with the computer keys, type everything that strikes you head, just go with the flow of your dexterity, never mind of the

grammar, never mind what language to use, never mind if you will be understood, never mind if it will be read, just put it down until you get tired. Don’t think of something big like to come up with a masterpiece or a best selling work; it is a terrible mistake for those with brilliant ideas yet produced nothing. When you relax and spend your days for something else, continue you days normally but when free time comes don’t forget what you have started. You don’t need to be compelled whether or not to finish what your have started. What is important by now is the fact that beginning today nothing of your spare time will be wasted, or, in a strictest sense, no time of yours will be spared. Procrastination is not a leisure time of the lazy, it is of the uncreative. Fruitlessness is not the product of the dump; it is of the intellectual indolent. For the neophytes, the problem is not how to finish; it is how to begin. So long as you always have in mind something to finish, the sun will never set down in the west without fulfilling its course; and rain water will never go back to the clouds of empty skies without given nutrients to the thirsty plants on earth and drinks of the birds in the air. But it is crucial to remember that achievers are not those who successfully made their start; they are those who persevered and are consistent with the works they have started. As you begin to this, you must notice few realizations. First: The amount of time in the past you have wasted or at least could have been more productive if you had been doing in the past what you are doing right now. Second: There will be lessening interests to television programs and useless talks except that which is relevant to your preoccupation. Third: Your interests in life will be narrowed down to a few but more significant ones. Fourth: You begin to pay attention to things you failed to appreciate before and tend to view everything around in view to its purpose. It is then your decision what to fill in with your spare time either leisure or boredom. And the only thing you have to do in order not to confuse these two is that if you repeat it for the second time it’s not going to be boring. Genuine leisure does not become boredom the next time around. And boring activities can even be leisure when you discover its secrets.


Taking the task Writing philosophical texts can never be a repetition. No matter how many volumes of philosophical treatises ever been written, still those compilations, useless to some may be, were just a speck of what has yet to be written. As philosophy teachers, it is good to leave our students with ideas, but it is brilliant and practical to leave them with text. As the Chinese saying goes, a palest pen is sharper than the sharpest mind. Even from the ancient Greeks down to our days, the question of primacy between oral and written teaching is not conclusively resolved. It is therefore very safe to assume that both are important and that not one should be preferred over another. But in so far as our seminary is concerned, it must be with great concern that teachers discuss philosophy in the class yet nothing of those discussions was committed into writing. Or if there were, nothing was published for the next generation to enjoy. When we get into philosophical text, we are always at the mercy of great thinkers who never knew about our own experiences. In philosophy however, this is not totally uncommendable. We also believe in philosophy’s claim for universal coverage, yet at the same time, we don’t take this as a message for us to take the task of philosophizing in our context. On the contrary, we strongly deem it as crucial task to leave something in the text what we have reflected so far. An urgent task No one can take a task seriously without any sense of urgency. At this point we must be ready to articulate what might be offensive to others, and that the task of philosophy cannot be clearly outlined without boast to the demise of other disciplines. At any rate, we are always speaking here in our local context. It would really take with great pride and courage to propose that our society today as it is suffering from so many problems like injustice, economy, politics, laws, terrorism, food shortage, high inflation, credibility, trust, etc., badly needs philosophical treatment. But how many people in our

society realized this today? What philosophy got to all of these issues? When reason is trashed to be held bound by power and political influence, then no reign can be called as civil and that order can only be possible through tyranny, and that our last recourse is to pray to God to send us a good tyrant. This seems to be much easy way but the history of mankind also testifies that such a pedagogy failed even during the most religious epoch when political and ecclesiastical powers merged as one yet simply render an unhealthy outcome to either of the two sides. Our century however seems to long for reason to take into each course and that the ancient law of the jungle must be consigned to the past with complete revulsion. From our barangay councils to executive sessions, reasons seem to be the measure of how society must be ruled. Philosophy cannot be dispensed without being ignorant about it. There is no doubt that people would agree to this. But how many political leaders of today are so concerned with logic more than special interests and shrewd political craft; they call it today, players. Reason cannot be unreasonable. Lies are irreconcilable with reason. Philosophy can make mistake, but it cannot lie. Reason can break friendship up but it can win enemies. Plato’s Philosopher-King may not be realistic but a society without philosophy is certainly heading towards disaster and it doesn’t deserve to be called humane. To this event, when philosophy turns away from social issues which concerns you and me, then Wittgenstein was correct, this is a philosophy that goes on holiday, the philosopher is out of town. In our seminary however, no philosopher has gone out of town yet because no one of them is residing in the town in the first place. But this doesn’t mean our institution wants of philosophers, we do have great ones and we do have in fact almost all of them from the Pre-socratics to the postmodernists. But they are all visitors. They came to visit our classrooms on appointed time and particular topics as outlined in the syllabus and then gone without a trace. And so professors and students meet them in the classrooms and leave them there as soon as the bell rings. Fortunately, this is not entirely true, not a few SPCS graduates are teaching philosophy right now


as in FSUU and in many colleges in the region. But that is not yet exact what we are trying to come up with because obviously they are still bringing our good friends of extraordinary minds into their own classrooms. Indeed, what happen is just philosophy is merely transferred from one classroom to another but never been out of the classroom as philosophical ideas are meant to be. We must remember that great ideas are polished in the classrooms or in any academic fora but they are born outside from it through a simple life experience. Thus, like Salmons and sea turtles, they must go back to their birth place by nature’s command. It must be of great lesson to us who take the task of engaging into philosophy, that before Plato founded the Academy and Aristotle erected the Lyceum, Socrates their highly venerated master was already roaming around in the άγωρα. Philosophy is everywhere The crucial part of our task therefore is how we translate in a manner in which Socrates was doing it in the merkado or tabuan. It is undoubtedly true that talking people in the street about the rules of inferences may be highly inappropriate. Though Plato closes the Syposium by describing Socrates as the best and the wisest of men that I know of, Athens considered him as the worst of the citizens. But certainly, Socrates did make sense to the young bystanders in the same manner that though Taguibo and Dumalagan folks wouldn’t spend their time talking about the Scholastics’ third order abstraction yet they love to talk about justice, economy, environment, leisure, governance, God, order, peace, value, etc., exactly the same things philosophers are dealing with from time immemorial. Let’s face it, we carry out our job in the church basically by talking. We priests talk a lot. And we talk to different kinds of people in almost completely different situations rich and poor, highly and poorly educated, military men and NPA’s, farmers and politicians, doctors and patients, capitalist and consumers, children and old, boys and girls, especially beautiful ones, they all listen to us. Haven’t we notice that a very simple idea of virtue like justice, honesty, etc., does make

sense to all of them. So, I don’t understand so many people think philosophy has nothing to do with life and all the more incomprehensible to me when somebody hates philosophy. The truth is, you cannot abhor philosophy without philosophizing, and that you cannot attack philosophy without adding something to it. In fact, this is the beauty of philosophy. Contemporary great philosophies are reactions to previous philosophies. Even when people simply ignore philosophy is in fact a philosophical act. Aside from normal people the only things which never philosophize are rocks and stones, and probably some politicians to include the least. Concrete imaginations To those who think that philosophy has nothing to do with life or to anybody who feels that philosophy is so far from him/her so that it is only found in the realm of the academe, here is my simple advice: Go to the barber shops while barbers are playing Dama waiting for their costumers. Listen carefully to what they are talking; you bet, they are not wanting of philosophical insights. Do this in the same manner while you’re still the only passenger in a tricycle bound for Baan riverside; pay attention to the driver’s conversation with his fellows until the tricycle is full. You will get exactly the amount of philosophical insights from that of the Barbiruhan. Or if your money is well enough to be able to afford in a bit comfortable transportation through taxi, don’t miss that golden opportunity to talk anything under the sun with the taxi driver and notice how philosophical the person you are conversing with to spend the rest of his life driving a cab. And in all cases, pay attention to what people are talking to each other whenever they have nothing to do in the waiting sheds, in break hours, drinking sessions in slum corners, or even on works and offices; and you will realize the richness of philosophical ideas that we Filipinos have, more relevant and more compelling to the ideas which students and philosophy teachers are discussing in the classrooms. To be honest, I feel some times people in the streets are


making sense better than the sophistries of politicians and empty sermons of clergymen. Fair play Finally, I think, in philosophy, there is fairness. Philosophy has nothing about academic degrees, social status will not help, political influence does not matter, economic situations are irrelevant, physical appearance does not count, and religious faith is not immune against the critical rigors of logical reasoning. This means that few letters before and after one’s name pre-fixed or suffixed by the society he/she belongs does not substantiate to his/her claim. The true value of every proposition depends on its logical coherence and sensitivity of personal experience. There is no room for politics, no place for brute force, yet there is room for everybody who loves wisdom, knowledge, and truth. In philosophy the truth of a tenant weighs heavier that the lies of the master; the truth of the bishop has an equal weight to the truth of a simple believer; the corruption of a single citizen in retail cannot justify the greed for public benefits of government official stealing the public coppers in wholesale; the power of a charismatic preacher has the same gravity to that of a gentle speaker; the belief of Juan de la Cruz is taken in the same amount the belief of the president of the republic. Authority is not spelled out by status quo but by reason alone. Ecclesiastical figures are respected because they are reasonable; they are revered because they are holy; and they are obeyed because people believed though sometimes are afraid. Philosophy must bend its knee to the gentle guidance of faith; and that faith must listen seriously the humble wisdom of philosophy.

Heidegger says. A genuine philosopher no matter how aloof he/she may appear, in no way, an indifferent human being cares the about world. He/she cares about reality. He/she cares about relationships. He/she cares about the things you and I are preoccupied with. Perhaps the difference lies on the fact that philosophers are more serious than we do about them.

Conclusion Therefore, it must be clear that intelligence do not make one a philosopher. A thinker is considered a philosopher because he cares, as


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