Philosophy is my first love. I began studying philosophy during my first stint in university in 1994. Although I loved it, I couldn’t see that philosophy could present me with real options for a career in anything but academia, and I was not at that time inclined to be a perpetual student. So I gave up on philosophy and university for a time. When I came back to academic study in 2004, there was only one subject I wanted to study: philosophy. How wrong I had been! How silly it was to think that studying anything but what my heart told me to would lead me anywhere fulfilling in my life! So, philosophy it was. And it welcomed me back with open arms.
I find the study of philosophy fascinating. The subtleties of arguments, that meandering way it sometimes comes back on itself, the humility of being forced to sometimes conclude that we simply cannot ever know, and the enterpreneurialism of trying to devise a workable scheme in the face of this epistemological frustration! To me, Ortega describes philosophy best, as a continuing thread, a stream of consciousness flowing from one philosopher to the next. The errors in philosophy occur when the philosopher stops thinking; the error is the starting point for the next philosopher to begin analysis until she can no longer continue; and so on, and so on. Each theory is subsumed or absorbed into the next theory, and so the skeleton of philosophy is contructed, piece by piece, bone by bone, with interlocking cartilege holding it all together.
I believe philosophy is important because it informs all other aspects of life. Philosophy is the basis of law, morality, justice, politics, economics, medicine, art, science, and society. Philosophy is a skill; it involves analytical thought. Any subject can be subjected to philosophical scrutiny.
What Problems are of Interest?
The philosophical problems that are of particular interest to me are those involving free will and determinism (and compatibilism), the tension between empiricism and rationalism, agency and autonomy, postmodernism, deconstruction, phenomenology, standpoint theory and epistemology (theories of knowledge – and ignorance), bioethics, moral and ethical theory (particularly as they relate to social justice), relativism, philosophy of emotions, and questions of personal identity and identity politics. Feminist theory is the lens through which I approach all other philosophical questions (more about MY feminism here). I also have a serious sweet tooth for existentialism. (All links go to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the best damn internet resource for philosophy there is!)
Debate and discussion is the heart of philosophical endeavours. In fact, this is what I call “practicing philosophy,” or “doing philosophy.” Philosophical theory provides the framework that guides and informs philosophical practice, which involves examining a question carefully from all angles. Applying various philosophical theories to problems provides the philosopher with a way of looking at the world and a vocabulary for expressing ideas.
Philosophy is mostly about asking questions. There are often fewer answers than questions in philosophy. This should not be seen as a deficiency or a point of frustration. It simply is what it is. Philosophy is about examination, interrogation, searching, striving, questioning, and answering as best we can. In the history of philosophy, established schools of thought have often survived for hundreds of years before a new body of work posed a challenge and rocked the foundations of society.
Here, we are all of us philosophers. Please feel free to engage in philosophical dialogue and debate with me or with one another. Don’t be intimidated by academic vocab – it’s just basically second-nature to me at this point when writing about philosophical questions. If you don’t understand what I’m getting at, just ask. No question is a stupid one; quite often, an innocent question from an untrained philosopher can bring down the house on a particular train of thought.