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A summary of their participation by the speaker

  • The philosopher's bags.
    Víctor Gómez Pin

    It is an embarrassing situation when someone, upon being asked about his or her profession, has to answer "philosopher", or even "professor of philosophy". And the problem does not lie that much in the fact that the interlocutor may not be able to know in what knowledge or technical sector can this answer be classified, but in the fact that probably the philosophers themselves cannot tell either.

    A philosopher is without doubt a person whose work is to think, but this is also the case of Ramón y Cajal, Einstein, Gauss..., people who (at least initially) nobody would classify as "philosophers". The embarrassment of the professional philosophers will further grow due to the suspicion of what will the interlocutor will think once they give a reply. This is so, because if we made street survey, in most of the cases, those questioned would go for an opinion in the line of: Philosophers are these guys who basically speak about something that is only interesting to them and using a jargon that only they can understand (in the best of cases). It is complicated for a philosopher to convince (both, himself and others) that this is a wrong image, a blunt caricature, and that the truth is that a philosopher is exclusively a person who speaks about things that affect everybody, and, initially, does it by applying elementary terms, and will only reach the inevitable complexity respecting the absolute requirements of the transparency that is so emblematically linked to the name Descartes. If we propose that philosophers exclusively speak about issues concerning us all, the fact that philosophy should be a common practice becomes a requirement for democracy. A requirement that is more urgent, the more that citizens are separated from this practice. This proposal has an immediate consequence over the philosophy tool, which is no other than the immediate and unavoidable mistake from which our daily life feeds: philosophy needs to find within the vocabulary oblivious to philosophical jargon not only the starting point, but the tension and push necessary to meet its goals. More precisely, due to the ambition of these goals, philosophy ends up needing a certain degree of technicality and even scholarship, which includes of course the history of philosophy itself.

    Thus, the philosopher has to determine which is the goal, what kind of questions characterize him within a world of people whose role is to pose questions. Once this task is accomplished, once the goal is established, the philosopher (like any other reasonable person) has to evaluate if he really is in the position to face the task. This is, if he posses both the power of thought that the issue requires and the tools, without which power would simply be inoperative. In summary, the philosopher, like any other person who decides to go for an objective, needs to carry saddle bags and review them periodically, just in case a tool needed due to an unexpected obstacle is suddenly not available. 

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