Sunday, September 27, 2015

I Need to Blog More (About More Important Things)

Lately I've been noticing two problematic aspects of my philosophical behavior. First, it's been striking me that I haven't been writing about topics that are obviously deep and important. I haven't written about political philosophy, or skepticism about the external world, or free will, or God's existence, or the Forms, or what's right and wrong, or anything like that, in quite a while. Second, even though I feel I know a lot more than when I started studying philosophy many years ago, each year I seem to write less and less.

I think the first problem arises from my belief that most of the answers to the "big" questions in philosophy are most fully understood if we have an understanding of certain technical issues. I didn't just get interested in counterfactuals or quantifier variance for no reason. I think the answers to important questions about God, man, and the world are affected by the answers to questions like these. So, while I think these technical topics are interesting in themselves, I am also working with the background belief that understanding of these topics provides insight into more "first-order" and "important" areas of philosophy.

I think the second problem of not writing often arises from a fear that what I say might not be fully polished or tightly argued, as well as a growing realization that most arguments and positions in philosophy are on quite fallible ground. I also worry what I would say isn't very original or isn't worth saying. In addition, I feel like I have less and less time.

But in reflecting on all this I remembered a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the first thinkers to get me interested in philosophy in the first place. In one of the few instances where Aquinas waxes eloquently, he comments that "... even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so is it better to give to others the fruits of one's contemplation than merely to contemplate." (Summa Theologica, II, II, 188, 6)

As a philosopher, I think it would hardly make sense to sit in my study all week, poring over material, and not share anything I might have gleaned with anyone. Philosophers should be pursuing wisdom, and wisdom shouldn't be pursued in a bubble. We should at least be of service to others by making our thoughts available. Moreover, as a Catholic philosopher I feel I have a duty to thoughtfully interact with the world from at least one faithful Catholic's perspective, a perspective which otherwise might not be heard or understood. People are looking for answers, and one place people look to is the Church. I hope I can indicate to at least some people that maybe they are looking in the right place.

As such, I hope to write more on this blog about things that matter to people (or at least things that directly matter to people). I still plan to write my more technical posts, but I also want to write on things people are actually concerned about and where I might be able to say something helpful and understandable to someone. This includes current events, religion, politics, as well as more controversial topics in philosophy. Not all posts will be equal in the amount of time or effort I've put into them. But I hope that by covering a more wide range of subjects I can present a relatively coherent, reasonable, and philosophically informed view of the world. And when need be, I'll be happy as I always have to dig into those technical philosophical questions that bear on the answers to the more big picture ones.

I don't know if this is a good move or not -- I feel that most of what I've written about is pretty abstract, so it will involve a change of tone for this blog -- but if even one more person finds my material helpful it'll justify the change to me. Plus, it'll give me an outlet for things I think about often but don't ever have an opportunity to say to anyone, as well as a forum to organize my thoughts.

To be honest, I've come to resolutions about blogging in the past and failed to follow up with them, but that's not a reason not to try. God willing I'll try to post at least once a week, and hopefully even a little more.

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