The End of Philosophy, and its Renaissance

The slow destruction of philosophy, starting with the rejection of the mind’s ability to perceive Reality, as enunciated byKant (based in turn on a history of ideas starting with Plato), and accelerating gradually through the progressive dominance of Rationalism and Empiricism in the 18th and 19th centuries, reached its logical conclusion in the Existentialism and Nominalism of the 20th century. Beyond these final declarations of the accumulated developments of those opposed to accepting the ability of Man to reason about the world surrounding him, thereby denying the very faculty in use in these declarations, Philosophy collapsed into random incoherent musings about disconnected observations. The very promise of Philosophy – to gain an integrated, systematic, knowledge of the nature and structure of the Universe, and Man’s relationship to it – was fervently abandoned as not only impossible, but foolish for intellectuals to pursue. Philosophy, in the form of Plato and his stream of decendants, has ended as a source of new ideas.

In modern society, intellectuals may still purport a belief in the Plato/Kant/Sartre tradition. However, in the widespread opinion of the common man, philosophy (when named as such) is at most a “pleasant diversion” – a book read on vacation, a momentary component of a political discussion, a debate over the existence of God – and at worst, an opportunity for humor, the subject of ridicule, or even a closed door to discussion marked with the label “taboo”. A very common rule in modern social ettiquete is never to discuss religion or politics – there is a very good reason for this: we no longer know how to have such a discussion divorced from emotion and arbitrary assertion.

And yet, Man cannot function without a Philosophy. Every individual acts according to a system of belief which consists of his understanding of the world. No individual can live long if his system of belief honestly accepts the irrational, the arbitrary, or a rejection of his mind’s ability to comprehend Reality. In the absence of a functioning or rational school of thought, each individual must rely instead upon an undeclared, self-discovered, “natural” philosophy – his common sense.

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