Vital Philosophy revisited

What a fitting and crucial time to embrace and begin to employ Vital Philosophy, Global Philosophy, or whatever else you might prefer to call it—philosophy soundly grounded in the existence of life within a very real universe, and oriented toward the sustainability of life and the realization in all senses of what is of value in life, for all people and all life!

After all, these are rather dark times in more than one sense:  Today is the darkest day of the year; nature, at least, will begin to bathe the world in more of her light day by day as we move into the New Year.  However, when it comes to our own human roles in matters—including the immense problems of our own creation—it will be up to us to choose whether we want to understand, what to think, and what to do.

As someone named Bob once said, the times they are a-changin’.  Many observers are now saying that humankind’s impact on the environment has become so large that we’ve entered a new epoch, requiring a new name: They suggest ‘The Anthropocene.’  Whether you like the idea and name or not, or whether you think they epitomize, celebrate, and perpetuate the problem or, instead, bring necessary critical attention to it, either way, the substance of our situation is such that it calls for much better understanding, new thinking, new attitudes, more responsibility, more humility on the part of humankind in relationship with the rest of nature, and other changes that I hesitate to try to put into words in such a brief post.

(For great context, see the Global Circle post Challenging the Anthropocene, by Ronnie Hawkins (November 15), in which she refers us to the excellent essay by Eileen Crist, ‘On the Poverty of Our Nomenclature,’ which can be found here:  http://environmentalhumanities.org/arch/vol3/3.7.pdf  )

What better time, then—what more necessary time—to embrace and employ a philosophy—or rather an approach to and vision of philosophy—that aims to understand and actively improve the conditions of life, life, and lives as part of and in healthy relationship with the natural world, in concert with the principles and (yes) limits of nature within which we must exist!  What better time to embrace a philosophy that genuinely loves and values wisdom, her application, and her fulfillment!  What better time to embrace and employ a philosophy that aims “to bring wisdom to life!”  What more necessary time to understand why and how we humans are creating problems for ourselves and for the rest of the community of life, and to strive to change our thinking, address those problems at their causal roots, and move forward into much more healthy, just, and sustainable relationships with each other and with the rest of the natural world!  What better time?

I began this series on so-called Vital Philosophy with two posts:  Vital Philosophy and Global Philosophy (September 15), and Vital Philosophy—a timely series (September 18).

I followed with a post, Life-aims and Aimlessness (September 26) in which I outlined, in my own style, what I understand to be the main defining views and agreements relevant to the Global Circle, or more broadly speaking, to the movement, evolution, revolution or transformation: in Nick’s shorthand, “from knowledge to wisdom.”

(Of course, there are related and deeply complementary dimensions to the movement, evolution, revolution or transformation as well:  For example, as long as we use the terms with care, we can speak of changes in attitude and understanding from those of ‘separateness’ to those of ‘relationship and wholeness.’)

Apart from this “afterword” post, I concluded the series with the post, The ground we stand on (December 19).  In-between the bookend posts, we covered a great deal of territory, I hope helpfully, including (among other things) some observations and criticisms of academic philosophy as it’s often presently practiced.  (I admit that there are notable exceptions to these criticisms, of course, and also that they have sometimes simplified a more complex picture.  Yet there is a great deal of truth in them, as I hope most readers have recognized.)  Also, and importantly, I’ve included some very concrete thoughts about necessary next steps, about how to begin.

Finally, in closing, I’d like to offer two brief reminders, for convenience, and then a question.

First, a reminder of three of the senses of the word ‘vital’ that contribute to what I mean by the concept of Vital Philosophy:

Vital Philosophy—Vi-Phi—is …

Vital— in the sense of having to do with life; involving life; regarding life and the things that enable and enrich life.  Of course, as we have discussed, life is part of and within the broader natural universe.

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 should be considered alive.

Second, as another sort of reminder, I’d like to offer again some of the most relevant quotes I’ve used throughout the series:

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.

– Albert Einstein

Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age.

– Albert Einstein

… but all the relevant facts were outside the range of their vision.  They were like the ant, which can see small objects but not large ones.

– George Orwell, 1984

What good am I if I know and don’t do?

– Bob Dylan, What Good Am I?

Your goodness must have some edge to it—else it is none.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

 

And finally, I’ll conclude with a timely question:  What are we waiting for?  Quinn the Eskimo?

 

Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) 

By Bob Dylan

Ev’rybody’s building the big ships and the boats
Some are building monuments
Others, jotting down notes
Ev’rybody’s in despair
Ev’ry girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
Ev’rybody’s gonna jump for joy

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

I like to do just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet
But guarding fumes and making haste
It ain’t my cup of meat
Ev’rybody’s ’neath the trees
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
All the pigeons gonna run to him

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

A cat’s meow and a cow’s moo, I can recite ’em all
Just tell me where it hurts yuh, honey
And I’ll tell you who to call
Nobody can get no sleep
There’s someone on ev’ryone’s toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
Ev’rybody’s gonna wanna doze

Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

 

Thanks for your consideration, and Be Well!

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