Perhaps it is the Spirit of Faith endeavoring to express itself in me and through me that prevents me from simply accepting those things which might pass beyond my eyes and ears and heart without first being scrutinized to the point that what might have initially been a huge, unwieldy block of limestone be eventually whittled down from statue to figurine and, finally, some tiny marble of which I then gather with all the other marbles into a bag that I conveniently stow in the corner of the closet of my carnal body, a process which inevitably casts those things which I do not know and probably never will into starker, clearer, more refined, and comparatively larger relief than would have been otherwise possible if the initial block of impersonal stone had simply remained a block and thus obscured my vision of the Unknown which is, of course, the gateway to the Dominion of Faith.
Faith cannot abide at all in and with Reason nor can Reason pierce even the outermost boundaries of Faith. In their “purest” expression there can be no unity, no synthesis, no agreement, no peace, only a kind of Heraclitan, winner-take-all war in which humble submission is in no way tolerable by either side, only full surrender and annihilation of their adversary.
Philosophy is, above all else, the practice of defining – or redefining – terms, symbols, or “concepts”. To begin, a budding philosopher must be in disagreement with the words and sayings that he has inherited; his disagreements which, if accurate and enduring enough, will offer themselves to subsequent generations for refutation, rebuttal, alteration, and perhaps obliteration through intellectual sublimation, ridicule, ignorance, or outright negation.
As for the study of any linguistic domain appended with the “logy” suffix, no such offer is made to the potential thinker. Indeed, veering too far from the established consensus of one’s chosen domain of knowledge immediately exiles one from the protection of and inclusion with the values of that herd and by so doing renders that thinker a heretic who must repent for the damage he might have caused to the orthodoxy by incinerating the words he’s said. In some rare cases in which the damage to orthodoxy has been too extensive, the heretic will have no other choice but to start his own herd where his ideas become the gospel which, to anyone who might trespass them, will be likewise branded a heretic and exiled.
To begin as a philosopher is not a difficult task, virtually anyone with a rudimentary grasp of the history of Western thought can take up the practice. To finish, though, is impossibly arduous. It is akin to climbing the highest and most dangerous mountains in the world, day in and day out. “Finish” here meaning to resist unto death the tendency to christen one’s once-novel definitions as unapproachable gospel to such a degree that the so-called philosopher himself has not the courage to refute and rebut.
For, in the end, we are all wrong, and all dead.
All serious thinkers will, if they are indeed serious about thinking, be confronted with the following:
1) Does history have a purpose?
2) If so, what is it?
3) Is there an entity or force or principle who gave history said purpose?
For modern thinkers, a fourth question:
4) Does humanity’s highest, if not sole, preoccupation from the inception of humanity unto, say, the mid-19th century no longer apply to contemporary humanity? — that preoccupation which was man’s ever-volatile relationship with the gods, God, divinity, the spiritual world, and by it, the afterlife. That man no longer bothers to burden his pampered little mind with these questions in anything approaching a serious manner, indeed proves just how far modernity has removed itself from humanity’s original constitution, power, glory, and the cosmological purpose which had defined man for untold millennia.
In light of this, can we rightly be considered “man” anymore?
God, as traditionally “understood” in and by the West, is an Offense to Reason, and Christ a stumbling block, while the Spirit of God: the apogee of irrationality; the whole divine Trinity which is, collectively, pure fantasy, even ignorant and dangerous stupidity – akin to the belief in fairies, miracles, magic, astrology, ghosts, and ghouls.
“If man could only rid himself,” says Reason, “of his need for irrationality and the cosmological balance it provides, he could, at last, be independent and free!” — if not at all human.
Devil walks into bar. Orders drink. Asks Philosopher sitting next to him: “And what do you do?”