Sunday, February 1, 2009

Why one should take interest in philosophy

A book I was reading by Ayn Rand “For The New Intellectual” narrates the journey that human society has made. I have extracted from this the role and importance of philosophy for us in our present time.

Over the course of history there have been three types of individuals:
1. Attila: who used force to conquer. He viewed the world as a set of experiences that were all on the concrete level and so he was missing an “integrated” view of the world. He could only see the world in disconnected chunks that had no deeper relationship with each other. For example he would conquer people to produce for him but never asked what it was that made those conquered “able to produce”.
2. Witch doctor: who thought his psychedelic experiences were a heightened state that brought him closer to reality whereas they were in fact completely divorced from reality. The witch-doctor gave Attila his integrated view who therefore depended on the witch-doctor and in turn the witch doctor depended on Attila for his position in society.
3. Producer: who used reason and not force or a hyper-consciousness to build is worldview.

It is said that by default man is an Attila or a witch-doctor. It takes one to question one’s environment to open their eyes and have the stomach to absorb what goes on in the world around them; to develop an integrated view of the world; to be sincere in their effort to discover objective truth in order to “wake up” gradually and be less of Attila and less of the witch-doctor and more of the producer!

One should study philosophy I think in order to develop an integrated view of the world thus find the relationship between all their experiences and their experiences and others experiences.

According to Ayn, Attila was first de-throned during the Greeko-Roman era and then again during the renaissance. However it was the industrial revolution that blasted Attila off his throne. For the first time in history, men gained control over physical nature and threw off the control of men over men—that is: men discovered science and political freedom. According to her the first society in history whose leaders were neither Attilas nor Witch Doctors, a society led, dominated and created by the Producers, was the United States of America. She says that in order to have the right to live by one’s own independent judgment one needs to live in an environment where there is Intellectual freedom, which cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are thus corollaries.

And so exists the capitalist economy where the producer – the “knowledge worker” is paid for what he knows for what he produces. This has created society based on reason, society that uses its resources (such as scientists, engineers and businessmen) to discover reality ever more.

The eye that opens by reading philosophy is ever important for an individual in this new society, a society of producers, knowledge workers because in the new societies that are shaping all over the world it is the producers who will be rewarded for what they produce!

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