Feeling like an island in the middle of a sea of stupidity

Day in and day out life seems to be becoming mundane with no intellectual stimulation unless you actually go LOOKING for it. 

I had a nice surprise the other day when I discovered a new friend of mine was capable of having a philosophical debate. Yes! I am not alone! I can finally have someone in my life who doesn't want to talk small talk! I hate small talk. It's repetitive and mind numbingly useless. So I get all excited and think that I can FINALLY discuss all the things I've been wanting to discuss (religion, politics, evolution, the normal taboo stuff) with someone who is capable of intellectual conversation. 

Boy was I wrong. While discussing our similar philosophy background she mentioned that she fail 2nd year philosophy because she refused to write a paper on evolution. She then went on to discuss the fact that evolution is a 'no-no' subject. She believes what she believes and that is that, no discussion, don't even bring it up. Feeling like my hopes had just been dropped on their head I just mentioned how philosophy taught me that my beliefs may be wrong and that it was a difficult lesson to learn. We went on to talk about it in a different direction. Now I knew I could only discuss the things that SHE was comfortable with and she would not be willing to listen to any reason, regardless of her background in philosophy and what she had learnt through it... just like everyone else.

AAAAND I'm back at square one. Does any else feel terribly alone in this way? Like they have no one to discuss the things that interest them? It's not only these things but any of the things in general that interest me, ie science, astronomy, etc. 

I noticed a few of you mentioned that philosophy shouldn't be studied anymore or had similar views on it. I tend to find that those who study philosophy have at least a vague knowledge of the difference between debate and arguments, I enjoy debating but often my 'playing the devils advocate' sense of discussion tends to infuriate people as they can't understand how I am able to entertain a thought without having to believe in it. People who have studied philosophy tend to see it as a debate and not an argument which is what I'm looking for so desperately! I want a real life intellectual debate! Any discussion that doesn't involve 'so have you seen so and so's new boyfriend?'

I'd like to see that I'm not alone with this whole feeling of being alone. Hehehe

Views: 613

Tags: debate, evolution, friends, philosophy

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 6, 2013 at 2:49pm

You are certainly not alone in thinking like that. I have wondered similar things. I have at times been very dismissive of people that appear to have no intellectual curiosity and are more pre-occupied with the dumbed down banalities of soap operas. I am not talking about people who have been disadvantage by life in some way but rather people I would consider to be my peers and who can afford to ponder the bigger questions in life. I will confess that at times that I am so intolerant of “stupid” that I dismiss some people’s opinions very quickly. I may be somewhat conceited and an intellectual snob at times but I sometimes feel that “they” are driving me to that position with their mundane thoughts and hero worshipping of their gods.

I have felt like shaking them by the throat and saying “Snap out of it and grow up” especially when I hear grown men and women tell me with such assumed authority that “goddidit”. They will dismiss with a wave of their hand everything I believe, not because I believe it, but because it is not what they believe. They are completely unable to engage in any form or debate on such subjects and immediately see any questions by me as an attempt at causing an argument. Of course they would rather view me like that otherwise they would have to think about what they are saying.

Then there are the people who don’t know or can’t decide what they believe.  They get as far as saying something like “well nobody can ever really know, can they”? They actually think such a trite statement is a display of wisdom. Next please…..ok I had better cool it…lol

Comment by Teri G on December 6, 2013 at 2:50pm

Thanks for the advice Davis! Unfortunately I live in South Africa and there aren't a lot of people in general that you can meet online through social websites (as far as I've discovered), never mind ones that are open minded enough to discuss such topics with me. It's also quite dangerous to attend online events that you haven't heard of or know about.

It also doesn't help that I am quite shy and take a while to open to people I don't know. This is another reason I am finding it hard to find people I can talk with, I don't make friends very easily. I want a real life friend that I can have debates with, where we can meet up for coffee and talk past the BS, but perhaps I am asking to much and putting too little effort into it.

I'll definitely keep my eye out for any University talks and the like, it's a good idea!

Comment by Teri G on December 6, 2013 at 3:23pm

@Elon and Reg

Glad to see I'm not alone! I feel like I'm in the Bible belt of the US. Most people get angry even if you just BRING UP religion or evolution! Never mind pointing out your differing position. I would be happy if someone would just converse with me, even if they have no clue what I'm talking about! That's how I'm feeling at the moment. Anything more than immediate dismissal would make me happy!

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on December 8, 2013 at 4:58am

Teri, you re-rang a one hell of a bell.

My dad sent his kids to Catholic schools. If I hadn't quit that scam, finished college with a degree in math and physics, and found intellectually stimulating work, I wouldn't have wanted to live.

When I saw your remark about being able to entertain a thought without having to believe in it, I right away thought "Has she considered law school and litigation?" I ask that because I've known lawyers who enjoyed courtroom combat so much that they would have argued any side of any case.

I agree that philosophy is dead. Not for the reason Hawking cited, but because philosophy professors killed it.

I was studying it about ten years after WW2, just as European existentialism was coming to America. The few professors I knew said it wasn't a philosophy and therefore wasn't worthy of their time. I did as science students learn to do: I suspended judgment, filed their remarks away, and went on with my life. Twelve years later, happily employed and well paid, I plunged into an activity for which my studies had not prepared me: environmental politics. I learned a lot, including that those philosophy professors had disliked existentialism because its brutal honesty denied them a soapbox from which to lecture naive students.

If there's anything more brutally honest than "There are no excuses", I haven't encountered it yet.

Comment by Simon Paynton on December 8, 2013 at 7:17am

"Like they have no one to discuss the things that interest them?

- you're f***ing telling me.  I've found a few people here and there with whom I can discuss aspects of my new philosophy: two of them, most excellent people, on TA.  The problem is that, to a non-philosopher, philosophy is  1) boring;  2) hard work.  I think one challenge is to make it accessible to everybody. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on December 8, 2013 at 7:19am

I think that being able to see a point of view without necessarily agreeing with it is the mark of a mature mind and is very useful in furthering philosophical debate. 

Comment by Pope Beanie on December 8, 2013 at 3:04pm

a few of you mentioned that philosophy shouldn't be studied anymore

I strongly feel that humans didn't evolve to optimally act logically or with complex intellectualization. Making the leap to daily, deep critical/skeptical thinking isn't in our genes. Philosophy not only helps to bridge the gap between speculation and science, but it is based on crucial rules of logical thought, critical thinking, skepticism, standard ways to communicate (or at least discuss) concepts, and so on.

I'm afraid that anyone claiming that philosophy is dead has too much faith in how far humans can become logical and objective. I try to take what I think might be an alien's view of humanity, in the scientific sense of understanding why human societies are the way they are, and less in the sense of making value judgments. It's the only way I can ponder or study our problems, without constantly feeling cynical.

Comment by Simon Paynton on December 8, 2013 at 5:06pm

"Making the leap to daily, deep critical/skeptical thinking isn't in our genes." - I agree, Pope Beanie.  Something simple yet powerful is required. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on December 8, 2013 at 5:06pm

Once that is in place, then can come the required level of critical / skeptical thinking. 

Comment by MikeLong on December 8, 2013 at 9:21pm

I've said before that philosophy is word games. However I don't think it's a waste of time or that it's "dead". The study of both philosophy and law should both be sub categories of linguistics. Both depend, more or less completely, upon the definitions, derivations, and usages of words. Law relates to what the words actually say. Philosophy depends upon how words relate to the less empirical aspects of knowledge.

Philosophy can be hell fascinating, but it's not going to solve any world problems.


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