April 21, 2019

Food for Thought

Chicken Katsu Club from Golden Diner which opened less than a month ago in my neighborhood. I checked it out with my neighbor @toddaltschuler. They are still in a “soft opening” mode and serving only breakfast and lunch.

Todd is a philosopher. As much as I love philosophy, it’s not often that I talk philosophy with someone. As a matter of fact, it’s not easy to agree on what “philosophy” is, and it’s been debated among philosophers throughout history.

I like how the word is used in ordinary language. If someone asks you for advice and if you believe that your answer is universal, you’d start your response with “You should...” But if you felt the answer is subjective, you might instead say, “My philosophy on that is...” For instance, if someone asked you what you would do if you saw a little child crying alone on the street, you would be more likely to start your response with, “You should...” because you’d feel it’s a universal principle. On the other hand, if an adult was crying on the street, you might respond with “My philosophy on that is...” But when we use the word “philosophy” in this way, it’s different from “opinion.” We are not simply stating something subjective as in “I liked that movie” or “I prefer blue.” If we say, “My philosophy on parenting is..,” we tend to have a framework of some sort that allows us to make decisions on any issues within that specific topic. In this particular use of the word, “philosophy” means a personal framework for decision making.

This is why philosophy is closely tied to the meaning of life; if you know the reason to live, answers to many questions in life become self-evident. But since everyone has a different reason to live, you understand that your framework may not work for others. You develop these frameworks for different aspects of your life and you keep them to yourself for the most part.

Philosophy in academia is the opposite. Academic philosophers debate as if the answers should be universal. It’s a battleground where the smartest can invalidate the lessers. Personally, I don’t feel what they do is “philosophy”; it’s more like “reasoning.”