Saturday, December 6, 2008

Where is the new philosopher's poker? The poverty of modern philosophies

On October 25, 1946; barely a year or so after the end of World-War II -- when I am sure the horrors of it was fresh on everyone's mind -- two eminent philosophers of the day were at a meeting titled "Are there philosophical problems?". The title probably was prescient because soon enough Sir Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein got into what was initially just a verbal fight. It finally ended up with Wittgenstein waving a poker (or so the story goes) at Sir Popper, before he stormed out of the building. Bertrand Russell was also present at that meeting.

Read more here:'s_Poker I believe a book has emerged based on that 10 minute episode: I plan to read that book sometime, but this blog post is not about that book.

My question is: Who is weilding a poker at today's philosophers? 

There is such an acute poverty of modern philosophies that I sometimes hurriedly (hopefully unfairly) think we are becoming shallower by the day. In many dialectics that I perchance get involved on the net, I am finally accused: "Oh, you are just being philosophical; you are not being constructive" Hmmm....finally, philosophy has become a bad-word. Not many seem to want to agree that philosophy is the bedrock on which intellectuals can build foundations on; for structures that come into our societies via the various sciences and arts.

Take my own field; architecture, for example. Much of the so-called philosophies (e.g. Deconstruction) in architecture are just parts of Buddhism rehashed and re-packaged into Walmart products that students seem to happily pick off the shelves. Even though I am from the East, and possibly take some pride in being part of the Eastern culture and even though I do agree that there is still much to be discovered and used from old philosophies of the East; I am still waiting for some philosophies that is truly becoming of the Internet age.

Where is that philosopher? What philosophy will that be? My poker is ready. But I don't have much to wave it against!

I will explore some options in some future blogs. Generally the sequence of events that generates new philosophies is: Anger and anguish comes first. Then comes thought. Then comes a new philosophy.  We are probably still in the first phase. In the meantime, you could read something on Ludwig hurriedly leaving the building