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Posts Tagged ‘Hindu philosophy

“Happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination”*…

Philosophy as a discipline, Siobhan Lyons argues, finds itself precariously balanced between incomprehensible specialization and cheap self-help…

As long as there has been such a subject as philosophy, there have been people who hated and despised it,’ reads the opening line of Bernard Williams’s article ‘On Hating and Despising Philosophy’ (1996). Almost 30 years later, philosophy is not hated so much as it is viewed with a mixture of uncertainty and indifference. As Kieran Setiya recently put it in the London Review of Books, academic philosophy in particular is ‘in a state of some confusion’. There are many reasons for philosophy’s stagnation, though the dual influences of specialisation and commercialisation, in particular, have turned philosophy into something that scarcely resembles the discipline as it was practised by the likes of Aristotle, Spinoza or Nietzsche…

A fascinating historical review of philosophy and a suggestion that the field has wandered astray: “Whither philosophy?” in @aeonmag. Eminently worth reading in full.

* Immanuel Kant


As we think about thinking, we might spare a thought for a poster child of the phenomenon sketched above– Alan Watts; he died on this date in 1973. A writer, speaker, and self-styled “philosophical entertainer,” he is known for interpreting and popularizing Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu philosophy for a Western audience.

Watts gained a following while working as a volunteer programmer at the KPFA radio station in Berkeley. He wrote more than 25 books and articles on religion and philosophy, introducing the emerging counter culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first best selling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), he argued that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy. He considered Nature, Man and Woman (1958) to be, “from a literary point of view—the best book I have ever written”. And he explored human consciousness and psychedelics in works such as “The New Alchemy” (1958) and The Joyous Cosmology (1962).

His lectures, mostly recorded in the 60s and 70s, found posthumous popularity through regular broadcasts on public radio, especially in California and New York, and more recently on the internet (on sites and apps such as YouTube and Spotify).


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