Andrew Cohen on a Society Bereft of Philosophical Insight

Question: Why is society bereft of philosophical insight?

Andrew Cohen:  Society is a big term but I would say generally speaking we’re not in the habit of thinking about life including our own personal experience in a philosophical context. And one of the things that I really put a lot of emphasis on when I teach is I try to help people to learn how to think about their own experience and about what it means to be alive, not so much in a personal context because we’re all very used to doing that, but we want to begin to look at every aspect of the human experience and every aspect of our own personal experience from the perspective of very deep, big and important philosophical ideas. And that’s one very big step towards liberating us and freeing our self from the prison of the personal ego, the fears and desires of the personal ego, which create such a narrow, small, little world. And some of these very big philosophical concepts, some of them- some of which we’ve been speaking about today, compel us to step back and get not only just a bird’s eye view but a cosmos eye view upon the experience that we’re having. And it--  What it does is it enables us to discover and rediscover context, bigger- ‘cause- because the bigger the context the bigger our perspective is going to be and the more enlightened we’re going to be so learning how to think philosophically forces us to stop thinking so personally and identifying so absolutely with our emotional and psychological experience and even beginning to see that in a much bigger context. So I think it’s a very important habit to learn and one that most of us are not in the habit of doing and also I feel that we don’t want our interest in philosophical thinking to remain purely abstract because I know some of us have a habit of being able to entertain philosophical ideas, but when we entertain the philosophical ideas they are conceptual abstractions that have nothing to do with the reality of the lives that we’re living because I think that philosophy’s power to transform is entirely dependent upon how seriously we’re taking the ideas that we’re actually working with.

Recorded on: 04/28/2008

 

Liberation from the prison of personal ego.

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