Monday, 25 February 2013

Why Philosophy: from The Mansions of Philosophy

The busy reader will ask, is all this philosophy useful? It Is a shameful question: We do not ask it of poetry, which is also an imaginative construction of world incompletely known. If poetry reveals to us the beauty our untaught eyes have missed, and philosophy gives us the wisdom to understand and forgive, it is enough, and more than the world’s wealth. Philosophy will not fatten our purses, nor lift us to dizzy dignities in a democratic state; it may even make us a little careless of these things. For what if we should fatten our purses, or rise to high office, and yet all the while remain ignorantly naive, coarsely unfurnished in the mind, brutal in behavior, unstable in character, chaotic in desire, and blindly miserable?

... Perhaps philosophy will give us, if we are faithful to it, a healing unity of soul. We are so slovenly and self- contradictory in our thinking; it may be that we shall clarify ourselves, and pull ourselves together into  consistency, and be ashamed to harbor contradictory desires or beliefs. And through unity of mind may come  that unity of purpose and character which makes a personality, and lends some order and dignity to our existence. 

Will Durant The Mansions of Philosophy, 1929  p.x

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