Philosophy is the love of wisdom. The search for universal meaning and greater purposes. Or, at the very least, a clarification of the terms and values that we already use.

If that is the case, what do philosophers talk about? Do they begin by talking about their emotions, and their personal understanding of the mystery of the cosmos? Everyone knows this is what philosophy is about. Yet for some reason, philosophers from Socrates down to Heidegger always begin their discussions, or at some point always go into a discussion of what they consider to be a "practical metaphor", discussion the uses of tools or shoes or whatever else they consider to be a practical way to convey their ideas in their culture. Which often come across as even more dull and wooden than their purely abstract concepts would be.

I don't think anyone has ever looked at a piece of chalk for a good hard long time and suddenly started thinking about the cosmos and man's place in it (barring some dextromethorphan users). Philosophical questions begin through the process of living, and of loving, and of dying. So why do philosophers not immediatly begin by discussing these matters? it could be that they are all looking at the world as an instrumental machine, due to their phallocentric rationality. Perhaps it is their desire, after years in the Ivory Tower, to write a book on the Metaphysical Basis of Morals that your normal tractor mechanic can understand. Or perhaps it is just the chance that their really has been no more then a few dozen of really high flight philosophers in the Western tradition, and perhaps none of them were good writers and\or they all had Asperger's Syndrome.

In any case, since the existentialist movement and the spread of multiculturalism and feminist philosophy, perhaps we may not see another philosopher make the same stylistic mistake. Of course, since Martin Heidegger, another pivotal philosopher has not arisen, and perhaps will not.

On the other hand, if not for this kind of debate, we may have never have seen such things as a debate between Umberto Eco and Richard Rorty whether it was appropriate to use a screwdriver as a q-tip.

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