Saturday, May 13, 2006

Why Philosophize?

So this past week as I have been finishing up my papers and such I have been asking myself the question of just why it is that I study philosophy like I do. I have already more than fulfilled the Church’s requirements for one preparing for ordination, and I am doing a level of MA here at
the university which no Jesuit has undertaken in
22 years. Why do this? Frankly, its more frustration than its worth in those terms. EllacurĂ­a, who I am writing my thesis on, had it right when he wrote:

“Philosophy as the search for the fullness of truth- not the mere absence of error, but the full presence of reality- is thus an indispensable element in the integral liberation of our peoples. When those peoples count on the real possibility of thinking for themselves in all the orders of thought, they will take the path of liberty and of full possession of themselves. That is what philosophy is for.”

Sometimes I find that my activists friends think of philosophy as just a goofy mind game, and that the only way to free people is just to be down in the trenches, that this is a waste of time. I think they’re wrong, (though I still love them) and maybe a bit impatient. The whole ideological superstructure of the world has to change for people to be genuinely free, so I write.

Sometimes I find my philosopher (and theologian) friends don’t quite get why it is that I do go out into the trenches, to places like El Salvador. They sometimes view it (I think) as a waste of good studying time. I think they’re wrong, (though I still love them) why would we do philosophy if it means nothing to real people? It can become just as banal and oppressive as anything else if we don’t have genuine contact with the real world. Plus the world is a beautiful place, why do philosophy if its not worth saving?

To serve Christ poor and voiceless in the suffering and oppressed, that’s why I do philosophy. I can’t do meaningless overly abstract metaphysics, I just need to stick here and do stuff that genuinely makes a difference in the lives of real people. This is why I do philosophy, and this is what philosophy is all about at its highest moments. We pray in the Our Father: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That the kingdom of God may become even more of a reality on earth and ever more closely resemble the kingdom in heaven, that is why I do philosophy.