Material Conditions for the Real-World Implementation of Life-Shaping Philosophy, and A Multiple-Solutions Approach to The Income Problem.
By Robert Hanna
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Material Conditions for the Real-World Implementation of Life-Shaping Philosophy, and A Multiple-Solutions Approach to The Income Problem
Recently I wrote a long-ish essay called “Six Studies in The Decline and Fall of Professional Academic Philosophy, And A Real and Relevant Alternative” (Hanna, 2022a), that combines and encapsulates some of the core ideas of two recent books, The Fate of Analysis (Hanna, 2021) and The Philosophy of the Future (Hanna, 2022b).
Here’s the abstract for that essay:
Contemporary professional academic philosophy is careerist, conformist, coercive-&-authoritarian within its own social-institutional sphere, dogmatic, esoteric, hyper-specialized, and above all, irrelevant to the true needs of the rest of humanity outside the professional academy, even to the point of being fundamentally at odds with those needs. Although, as Kant, Schopenhauer, Thoreau, and Dewey all pointed out, these problems have been perennial since the emergence of professional academic philosophy in the 18th and 19th centuries–“there are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers” (Thoreau)–they have currently reached their final crisis stage. To demonstrate this, I present six short studies in the decline and fall of 20th and 21st century professional academic philosophy, describing the going-down of post-classical Analytic philosophy–together with its social-institutional Other, so-called “Continental philosophy”–into the ash-heap of history, with social justice theorists and identitarian multiculturalists coercively-&-moralistically presiding over its cognitive collapse and suicide. But all is not lost. I also present an alternative model of philosophy — which I call “life-shaping philosophy” — that’s (i) real, i.e., authentic and serious, pursuing and practicing philosophy as a full-time, lifetime calling, as sharply opposed to its being job-oriented, half-hearted, and Scholastically superficial, (ii) fully relevant-to-humanity by virtue of its being intellectually, morally, and politically autonomous, critical, collaborative, and creative, and that (iii) not only can but should be pursued and practiced outside the professional academy.
Life-shaping philosophy, in turn, is an elaboration of the broadly and radically Kantian view I’ve called rational anthropology, which is neither Analytic philosophy nor so-called “Continental philosophy,” and whose other elaborations are anarcho- or borderless philosophy, neo-organicist philosophy, and above all, the philosophy of the future (Hanna, 2015, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c, 2018d, 2021: esp. ch.XVIII, 2022).
Granting all that as philosophical backdrop, then the amazingly hard question arises: what are the material conditions for the real-world implementation of life-shaping philosophy?
This question is “amazingly hard,” precisely because, unlike most hard questions in philosophy, it’s essentially practical or pragmatic, and not essentially conceptual or theoretical.
In any case, it seems to me that three material conditions need to be jointly satisfied in order to implement life-shaping philosophy in the real world.
First, there must be a worldwide loosely-structured network of philosophy research groups, each one composed of a small number (say, at most 10–12) like-minded people who are all committed to the pursuit and practice of philosophy as a full-time, lifetime calling, and who freely and regularly associate with one another in order to forward this purpose, thereby carrying our various philosophical projects either individually or collaboratively, not only online but also in person, such that each such group (i) has its own website(s), (ii) has its own publishing and dissemination/distribution capability, not only electronic but also hard-copy, (iii) holds at least one in-person meeting per year for the entire group, and (iv) engages in some real-world philosophical collective activism that the group has committed itself to or decided upon: for example, online or in-person teaching, empirical research, or political organizing.
Obviously, it would then also be necessary to have enough money to pay not only for these websites and for their publishing capability, but also for holding at least one in-person meeting per year for the entire group and for engaging in the group’s real-world philosophical collective activism.
Second, there must also be a large-scale, universally freely accessible, online platform that operates essentially beyond the control of the professional academy and its associated academic presses or other mainstream publishing venues, for sharing their research group’s individual and collaborative work, and for online discussion with other philosophers or philosophically-minded people, especially those who belong to other philosophy research groups.
In fact, such a platform already exists, namely, academia.edu (Academia, 2022), and even though it’s for-profit, it’s not paywalled and anyone can belong to it and use it for free; nevertheless, in order to screen out distracting sidebar advertising and use some other “premium” features of the platform, there’s a roughly $100.00 USD charge per year.
Third, and above all, there must be a reliable, sustainable, sufficient, and above all no-strings-attached, source of income in order (i) to pay for the group’s website(s), for their electronic and hard-copy publishing capability, for holding at least one in-person meeting per year for the entire group, and for their real-world philosophical collective activism, (ii) to pay for “premium” features of using the large-scale, universally freely accessible online platform, and above all (iii) to provide an income adequate for all the purposes of ordinary living, for all full-time research-group members.
In the nature of things, and in full view of the real world’s being the thoroughly nonideal natural and social place that it is, it’s the third condition that’s the most difficult, and perhaps — owing to the no-strings-attached requirement — even almost practically and pragmatically impossible, to satisfy.
In order to be fully intellectually, morally, and politically autonomous, members of philosophy research groups cannot, without practical or pragmatic contradiction and self-stultification, “sell” either themselves as philosophers, or their specifically philosophical activities or productions, in any way whatsoever: as Plato correctly pointed out about the Sophists, selling philosophy means selling out.
And philosophically-minded and highly generous billionaire, millionaire, or even non-millionaire no-strings-attaching patrons or philanthropic supporters of real, relevant, and extra-professional-academic philosophy are very thin on the ground indeed, and perhaps as rare as the good or honest person for whom Diogenes searched with his lamp.
— Unless, of course, you, the very reader of this sentence, are one such highly generous philosophically-minded person.
Therefore, satisfying the third material condition is an amazingly hard problem on its own.
But, perhaps the assumption that there must be a single, universal solution to the income problem is mistaken.
For, there might nevertheless in fact be a finite set of structurally-related yet slightly different specific solutions.
Indeed, there might be as many as five of these.
In what follows, for convenience, I’ll abbreviate the phrase “life-shaping philosophy” as “LSP,” and the phrase “someone who pursues and practices life-shaping philosophy as a full-time, lifetime calling” as “an LSP-er.”
First, an LSP-er might have a dual vocation for LSP + X, such that (i) X is a kind of work that’s able to be done in an independent way, (ii) X yields a living income on its own, and (iii) X is also highly compatible with or even fully complementary to LSP: for example, one of the fine or applied arts — say, architectural design.
Second, a philosophically-minded patron or philanthropist who wasn’t in fact wealthy themselves might nevertheless be highly generously willing to work at a wage-paying job, and at the same time permanently support only one LSP-er, for example, their life-partner or a protégé(e).
Third, someone might in fact be independently wealthy themselves, perhaps by inheritance, or perhaps by making a lot of money when they were relatively young and retiring early, and then use that income in order either to become an LSP-er themselves for the rest of their life, or permanently to support only one LSP-er, again for example, their life-partner or a protégé(e).
Fourth, someone might have worked at a wage-paying job for many years, thereby accumulating an adequate pension and/or quantity of life-savings, and then retire in order to become an LSP-er for the rest of their life.
Fifth, and finally, if there ever came to be a truly generous universal basic income, aka TGUBI (see, e.g., Hanna, 2018d: part 3), in some society or societies, then someone could use that TGUBI in order to be an LSP-er for the rest of their life.
Moreover, under any one of those five specific solutions, the members of a philosophy research group could pool their own resources in order to pay for the group’s website(s), for their electronic and hard-copy publishing capability, for holding at least one in-person meeting per year for the entire group, for their real-world philosophical collective activism, and for “premium” features of using the large-scale, universally freely accessible online platform
Now, let’s call the thesis that there exists a single, universal solution to the income problem, the one-solution thesis; and let’s call the thesis that there exists a finite set of structurally-related yet slightly different specific solutions, the multiple-solutions thesis.
Given what I’ve written above, I think it’s plausibly arguable that the one-solution thesis is false, and also that the multiple-solutions thesis is true.
If so, then since it’s really possible for all of the three material conditions for LSP to be jointly satisfied, life-shaping philosophy is really possible, even despite the fact that we live, move, and have our being in a thoroughly nonideal natural and social real world.[i],[ii]
[i] I’m very grateful to Otto Paans for thought-provoking correspondence on and around the main topics of this essay.
[ii] In fact, there already exists a prototype of life-shaping philosophy, Philosophy Without Borders, a cosmopolitan group project for creating and universally freely sharing original philosophy, that roughly satisfies the three material conditions described in this essay (PWB, 2013–2022).
(Academia, 2022). Academia.edu. Available online at URL = <https://www.academia.edu/>.
(Hanna, 2015). Hanna, R. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge . THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, Vol. 5. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Available online in preview HERE.
(Hanna, 2018a). Hanna, R. Preface and General Introduction, Supplementary Essays, and General Bibliography. THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, Vol. 1. New York: Nova Science. Available online in preview HERE.
(Hanna, 2018b). Hanna, R. Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics. THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, Vol. 2. New York: Nova Science. Available online in preview HERE.
(Hanna, 2018c). Hanna, R. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy. THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, Vol. 3. New York: Nova Science. Available online in preview HERE.
(Hanna, 2018d). Hanna, R., Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise. THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, Vol. 4. New York: Nova Science. Available online in preview HERE.
(Hanna, 2021). Hanna, R., The Fate of Analysis: Analytic Philosophy From Frege to The Ash-Heap of History. New York: Mad Duck Coalition. Affordably available in hardcover, softcover, and Epub at URL = <https://themadduckcoalition.org/product/the-fate-of-analysis/>.
(Hanna, 2022a). Hanna, R. “Six Studies in The Decline and Fall of Professional Academic Philosophy, And a Real and Relevant Alternative.” Unpublished MS. Available online HERE.
(Hanna, 2022b). Hanna, R. The Philosophy of the Future: Uniscience and the Modern World. Unpublished MS. Available online HERE.
(PWB, 2013–2022). Philosophy Without Borders. Available online at URL = <https://www.patreon.com/philosophywithoutborders>.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 659
Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Monday 18 April 2022
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