Despite the disarming glee of this intellectual romp, [Jonathan] Rée doesn’t quite banish the thought that, for the English, philosophy is what history was to Henry Ford, bunk — a notion clinched by T.S. Eliot’s portrait of Bertrand Russell as Mr Apollinax, wittering incomprehensibly and laughing like an irresponsible foetus at his own wit.
There’s been a lot of interest in reviving Stoic philosophy recently, particularly the therapeutic aspects of it. I’m skeptical about this, as in my view philosophy is primarily the attempt to understand, and as such is an activity of enquiry. There’s no guarantee that discovering how things are will benefit us psychologically: it might in fact make things much worse. As Friedrich Nietzsche pointed out, it might not even be possible to confront the deeper truths of reality head-on. That would make human existence unbearable. What do you think?
One of the interesting questions we face as philosophers who are attempting to make philosophical ideas accessible for a general audience, is whether or not everyone can or should ‘do philosophy’.