February 18, 2006

Philosophy will be life-enhancing

Henryk Skolimowski
Philosophy is a form of life itself. What we witness today is a separation of philosophy from life because in our atomised, analytical society everything is separated from everything else. No wonder culture atrophies. In a society in which everything is separated and analysed ad nauseam, philosophy is on one shelf and life is on another shelf-and indeed so often life is on a shelf. When I talk about the relevance of philosophy for life, I think I am not alone.
In his book Small Is Beautiful, E.F Schumacher emphasises very strongly that the most important task for our times is not so much an economic reconstruction, although this is vital and necessary, but what he calls a metaphysical reconstruction or a religious reconstruction-looking deeper into our philosophical and metaphysical foundations and seeing what has gone wrong. In this sense philosophy is vital, because many of our problems stem from the fact that we started to look at the universe in too limited a way from the seventeenth century on. The metaphor of the universe as a clock-like mechanism has constricted not only the meaning of the universe and the meaning of cosmos for us, but also the meaning of our own life. We have somehow strangled ourselves.
So what I am trying to do in Eco-philosophy and other books is to look for alternative philosophical and metaphysical foundations. We have to realise that the mechanistic way is only one way and not the best one. It is pernicious nowadays. Although it has brought great material rewards, it is counterproductive in the long run. We have to create another matrix, another architecture around which we can weave reality and the cosmos. It must be an architecture of the cosmos within which our life can breathe, and thereby our philosophy will be life-enhancing. We need to establish a symbiotic relationship with the cosmos and other forms of life. This cannot be done within the mechanistic universe which splits and disintegrates everything in the mortuary of our analytical thinking.
Life-enhancing philosophy is one that tries to bring to bear such a conception of the universe which is home for Man. In it, we are part of the flowering of the great blossom of evolution. Within such a conception of the universe, we are not pitted against other forms of life and especially we are not pitted against each other. On top of the mechanistic conception of the universe, we have grafted Social Darwinism, "homo hominae lupus est," man is wolf to a man. And those two conceptions, which are philosophical par excellence, are working towards our own undoing.
What I am saying is the following. Our philosophical roots are not nourishing us any more. They are responsible for our plight. We'll have to change those roots, this whole foundation, so that it becomes again a tree that is nourishing us, that connects us with the universe, with other forms of life, and with our ultimate destiny which some call God. We cannot live in a shattered, meaningless universe. Human being craves for meaning and this meaning is part of our nature. So rethinking our foundations is not only an intellectual exercise, it is part of the quest for meaning. It is our existential necessity.

No comments:

Post a Comment