The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Philosophical Discussion

While I did study a bit of philosophy and ethics in college, I don't exactly follow the field that closely; I can't name any more interesting philosophers than the average person. So I don't really know the person that this piece from the New York Times is memorializing.

Then again, the article does highlight why I do pay quite a bit of attention when something about philosophy makes its way into my news feed - because simply reading it was surprisingly thought-provoking.

I'm not sure I even want to try summarizing it, or picking out just one point, because I don't think that would do it justice. However, I'm not confident it's something that most people will want to read all the way through (something that makes one think often takes more time and effort to comprehend, of course), so I'll go ahead and share the one point near the end which I found the most interesting. Specifically, it was this line: "This lesson is politically consequential, Cavell stresses, because it implies that thinking is an activity we can’t outsource to others."

My first reaction was actually not positive - mostly because I've always thought that expertise in finding, analyzing, and expressing information is something that can be outsourced in the same way we hire experts to do all number of tasks that we can't do ourselves. I can't fix a car, rewire a light fixture, or build anything besides a impossibly simple shelter, but I can ask someone else to do these things for me. And if I don't have time to analyze events around the world, determine their importance, and remember the most important ones all on my own, well, that was why I was reading the Times in the first place.

After some thought, though, I think I understand the point. What is true about it is that how I react to what I read, and how I choose to share that reaction, is still my own, unless I choose not to think about it. We're all better off if those reactions are based on thought, and not on unthinking copies of what others have said or want.

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