Of course, the question in the title presumes that few people can be bothered with philosophy, because it is all too difficult and removed from everyday life.
But is this really so? If philosophy is a formal system of thinking, then few people engage in it. But if it is an awareness of issues and a willingness to discuss them, then all the world is a philosopher to some extent.
Readers of the Daily Star will become very animated when discussing whether Sven should remain as England manager and give their reasons for and against. The point is perhaps that the reasons given by people for their conclusions whether about Sven or capital punishment do not necessarily follow any known system of logic and so often make little sense.
To use reason is not something which comes wholly naturally to us. We see that if we put our hands in the fire, we are burnt and use our reason to deduce the cause and so avoid the same fate in the future. The analysis of complex problems requires rather more disciplined thought. It is a skill which needs to be learned. It also requires a willingness to follow wherever the argument may take you - even to a conclusion which you do not like . And there are many people who will not face the possibility of having their views or faiths challenged
But philosophers have a lot to answer for as well. Like most learned people, they use jargon ostensibly to clarify, but often really just to emphasise their own learning and therefore importance. Much of the philosophy that I have struggled through over the years has been turgid beyond belief. And I am with those who say that if that is philosophy, then you can forget it. Of course, I am putting my neck on the block by creating this site and thereby implying that I write the sort of prose that people would actually find interesting and understandable!
As lawyers, for that is my background, we have gone through something of a revolution in being required to explain things clearly to non-lawyers. Clients generally refuse to accept the old jargon and ask for straightforward advice instead. Philosophers do not have clients who demand that they explain themselves clearly. Maybe they should.
5th September 2005
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