“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Nick has understandably applied the label Global Philosophy to what we are up to, and has highlighted the following as one way to summarize the matter (here, in the form of a so-called Mission Statement):
“The Global Circle consists of philosophers sympathetic to the idea that philosophy should tackle, and promote awareness of, global problems—global intellectually, and global in the sense of concerning the planet and the future of humanity.”
I’d like to offer a complementary label—not instead of Global Philosophy, but in addition to it, to augment it—in order to highlight a different vital aspect of the matter: Vital Philosophy.
In my view, and if I understand Nick’s work correctly, Vital Philosophy and Global Philosophy are the same—that is, two different names for the same rose, that shed light on it with different but complementary emphases.
Vital Philosophy is …
Vital— in the sense of having to do with life; involving life; regarding life and the things that enable and enrich life.
Vital— in the sense of relevant to life; necessary to life; crucial.
Vital— in the sense of lively and alive; active; energetic; advancing. Here, even the aim of Vital Philosophy is never dead or final, and is always subject to being better understood and advancing—in other words, the aim itself is alive.
It’s interesting to consider the etymology of ‘vital’—going back to ‘vita’, life. A great fit!
Viva Vital Philosophy!
So what else might be said of Vital Philosophy in a brief blog post?
Of course, Vital Philosophy is philosophy that, among other things, draws from the life-sciences. A great Vital Philosophy reading list would include the historic classics and modern leading-edge works of biology, zoology, and (so forth) as well as many of the historic classics and modern works of what is presently considered to be modern philosophy.
Some of its historic and present-day leading thinkers include Darwin, of course, and also Franz de Waal, for example. In crucial and of course impressive ways, Socrates was a Vital Philosopher. Among many of his arguments and approaches, consider his discussion of the lessons he learned from Diotima; consider the fact that he wanted those who caught glimpses of the light to return to the Cave to help others find it; consider his brief but prophetic warning, and clear description, regarding the lack of sustainability that results from insatiable material appetites; consider his persistent activism in the public forum; and consider that he refused to go away and disengage from the public, even at pain of death (all of which we receive by way of Plato, of course).
Vital Philosophy is not yet-another distinct, separate thing, divorced from other specific “philosophies”. Instead, it is, among other things, a re-bringing-together—a bringing back together—of “philosophy” and the sciences, especially the life-sciences but also the others. And it’s an appreciation that life is at the center of the matter, so to speak. (See again the description that includes the three senses of ‘Vital’, above.) Too, among other things, Vital Philosophy recognizes that the Earth is a finite planet, that this matters, and that this idea—this reality—has very real implications for what it means to be wise and live wisely. Also among other things, Vital Philosophy recognizes that we, humans, are part of the broader kingdom of life and interdependent with other life. And, it recognizes that this matters and that this has very important implications for what it means to be wise and live wisely.
Vital Philosophy recognizes that, if you genuinely love something, you want it to achieve its own ends—to realize (in the fullest sense) what it wants, so to speak—and you want to help it do so; you actually act accordingly. I mention this in relation to philosophy’s love of wisdom, of course.
Of course, labels can only go so far and say so much—not very far, and not very much, really. So, we should all keep in mind the substance of the matter. My next post will have much more to do with that.
Cheers and Be Well,
P.S. — This is my first post on this, a new blog. So, if it ends up garbled or ugly because of formatting or for other technical reasons, I apologize and will work with the blog experts to try to fix it and do better next time. Thanks for your consideration.