Saturday, 13 March 2010

Summation So Far

This blog series has been commenting on diverse angles of analytical academic philosophy and the unofficial conceptualism of citizen philosophy. The Cambridge and Oxford traditions were profiled (entries 2-8), with some Continental extensions in logical positivism (entry no. 9).

My own angle has been broached, in the form known as interdisciplinary anthropography, or philosophy of culture (entry no. 10). The distinction between different forms of independent philosophy has been stressed, and in relation to the frequent preferences for Nietzsche (entry no. 11).

Factors involved in controversy about the integral theory of Ken Wilber have been mentioned (entry no. 12). Reservations have been expressed about the contemporary mindset in the commercial guise of Mind, Body, Spirit (entry no. 13), which has been part of the decline in literature. The phenomena of contemporary pseudomysticism are repudiated (entry no. 14), and including the manifestations of "cult" thinking that have become notorious.

The citizen way forward must be far more disciplined than the panaceas offered in the commercial mindset of pop-mysticism. For instance, in referring to the history of religion, due critical ballast should be provided in recourse to specialist sources.

The history of philosophy is not popular today. No apology need be offered for approaching that subject in a more flexible sense than is found in some academic versions, and in a more rigorous sense than is found in the popular dismissals preferring so-called “holistic” conveniences which omit analysis in favour of fantasy.

With regard to the history of religion, I have recently proffered the web article Early Sufism in Iran and Central Asia (2010). The subject involved is distanced from the field of conventional philosophy, but is not an insurmountable problem for an independent thinker. I would maintain here the relevance of investigating an international phenomenon extending from the Near East to Central Asia (and India in later centuries). Analysis of the topographical and conceptual features of the early Islamic cultural landscape are inseparable from the varied explanations for mystical religion (now known as Sufism) in evidence amongst Islamicist scholars. The majoritarian thinking process in the Islamic milieux eventually eschewed the heritage of Greek philosophy, but that is no barrier to intercultural analysis.

With regard to the history of philosophy, one should continue to be broad-ranging rather than unduly selective. From Bertrand Russell and Richard Rorty to Descartes and Kant, there is ample room in retrospect for flexible thought and potential insights. In addition, Plato, Aristotle, Al-Farabi, Ibn Rushd, and many others of more distant centuries can still be honoured, and doubtless with some surprises in store around committed corners of the mentation effort.

Kevin R. D. Shepherd
March 13th 2010

ENTRY no. 15

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