I read and think quite a bit. However, when it comes to Western philosophy, it has always felt like a big brick wall in which I can’t even find a door to knock on, let alone go in by. Often when I try reading at a higher level than a children’s guide, I am baffled in short order and can’t see how it relates to anything that matters to me.
Some time ago I concluded it was simply like triogonometry, beyond my capacity to understand or enjoy, and since life is short and human civilization long, I decided to focus on the things I can grasp and enjoy.
But then I came across Harry Eyres’ definition of philosophy, and found it reflects a large part of reading and thinking, especially concerning the ‘how to live’ aspect. So, if his definition is valid, I may have been ‘doing’ philosophy without realising. Ouf, feel better for that.
First of all philosophy is not an academic discipline. It is the study, which should concern all thinking human beings, of how to live and how to die.
See our celebration of Eyres’ superb slim volume on Horace. And here is another, less reverent definition of philosophy, cited by Aldous Huxley.
Source: Harry Eyres, Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 26
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