What Can Philosophy Do For Humanity? Phildialogues, Kialo, and Meta-Kialo, #1–Introduction.

By Robert Hanna


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Phildialogues

III. Principled-Negotiation-&-Participatory-Decision-Making

IV. Kialo

V. Meta-Kialo

VI. Conclusion


You can also read or download a .pdf of the complete version of this essay HERE.


I. Introduction

What can philosophy do for humanity?

— Philosophy not only can but also should enable and guide us in daring to think, write, and speak for ourselves, in order to change our individual and collective lives, so that we can freely act accordingly, and then change the world too.

This unabashedly activist conception of philosophy is what I’ve called philosophizing with a hammer and a blue guitar,[i] and also what Michelle Maiese and I have called the mind-body politic.[ii]

But the dominant and indeed hegemonic kind of contemporary philosophy is professional academic philosophy, which is in fact irrelevant[iii] and also fully enslaved by what William Blake, with fire-tongued poetic accuracy, called mind-forg’d manacles.]iv]

So how can those of us who passionately desire to philosophize with our hammers and with our blue guitars, drum and riff this irrelevance out of existence and then break loose from our mind-forg’d manacles?

To get you into the right mood, you can start by listening to The Aufklärung Song, created by the contemporary art/alternative/psychedelic/progressive rock band, Johannes Faustus, led by the young Finnish philosopher Hemmo Laiho, a member of the Philosophy Without Borders project.

Now “Aufklärung” means “enlightenment,” as in The Enlightenment: but what is enlightenment?

Here’s the core of what Immanuel Kant had to say about this fundamental cognitive, moral, and sociopolitical concept in his seminal 1784 essay, “What is Enlightenment?”:

Enlightenment is the human being’s emergence from his own self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to make use of one’s own understanding without direction from another. This immaturity is self-incurred when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! Have the courage to use your own understanding! is thus the motto of Enlightenment.

When nature has unwrapped, from under this hard shell, the seed for which she cares most tenderly, namely the propensity and calling to think freely, the latter gradually works back upon the mentality of the people (which thereby gradually becomes capable of freedom in acting) and eventually even upon the principles of government, which finds it profitable to itself to treat the human being, who is now more than a machine, in keeping with [their] dignity.[v]

Correspondingly, by relentlessly drumming with our philosophical hammers and by relentlessly riffing on our philosophical blue guitars, and more specifically,

(i) by means of what I call phildialogues, and

(ii) by using the online discussion platform Kialo,

then contemporary philosophers can awaken ourselves and the rest of humanity from what Blake’s contemporary Francisco Goya, with equally fire-tongued poetic accuracy, called the sleep of reason.

El sueño de la razon produce monstruos/The sleep of reason produces monsters” (1799)

And that’s what the rest of this essay is about.


[i] R. Hanna, “How to Philosophize with a Hammer and a Blue Guitar: Quietism, Activism, and the Mind-Body Politic” (October 2019 version), available online HERE.

[ii] M. Maiese and R. Hanna, The Mind-Body Politic (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), also available online in preview, HERE.

[iii] See R. Hanna, “How to Escape Irrelevance: Performance Philosophy, Public Philosophy, and Borderless Philosophy,” Journal of Philosophical Investigations 12 (2018): 55–82, also available online HERE.

[iv] See W. Blake, “London,” in Songs of Experience (1794), lines 5–8:

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

[v] I. Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?,” trans. M. Gregor, in Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 17–22 (WiE 8: 35, 41–42).


Against Professional Philosophy is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

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Mr Nemo

Mr Nemo


Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.