Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins published this breezy, brief little history of philosophy in ’97 and I’m very attached to it. Show me a better concise guide to our discipline and I’ll use it. I guess.
I’m also very attached to the memory of Prof. Solomon, who left us much too soon in a Zurich airport three winters ago. But we still have the wisdom of his semi-animated Waking Life* avatar to ponder. He was not one to indulge excuses or illusions:
*Want an example of what Solomon means when he talks about not making excuses or taking responsibility for your life? Check out the film critic Roger Ebert‘s heroic adaptation to a cancer that might have shut an excuse-making person down. This film may just have saved his life.
This time we’ll do short installments of PW on Thursdays. Today it’s the opening pages that begin in wonder about the fons et origo of all this philosophizing. Which came first, our “oversized brains” or the curiosity that grew them? Is philosophy a “useless” epiphenomenon? Did the impulse for reflective thought precede sophisticated language use or grow out of it? What happened to the neanderthals? Why did philosophy get so much more interesting in so many places between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE?
Note the convergence of free-thinking and mysticism in India, prior to the Buddha’s arrival. There’s more than one way to think outside of boxes.
Zoroaster (Zarathustra) was among the first to try out a strategy still in play, and still unsatisfying as an account of needless suffering in a world stipulated as the sustained creation of an all-powerful deity “on the side of the good: the ubiquity of evil. PoE (SEP)