Practical Philosophy

It has been something of a theme in the past few weeks that the phrase ‘Practical Philosophy’ has sprung up a few times, and I’m beginning to get my head around what that really means for me.

Having established a pretty solid foundational philosophy for existence {as in what I can rationally determine from my own experience}, there are some pretty impressive gaps between this comfort zone of knowing, and - for want of a better phrase - the real world.

Take for example a recent discussion sparked by the observation of a minute’s silence for the victims of the recent attacks in Tunisia. Two key areas of thinking came up as part of this discussion - my pacifism, and my lack of national identity (or reluctance to accept the concept of unity via geography).


Perhaps the most central tenet of my philosophy - and probably the only part of it that strays into the moral arena - determines that no-one is allowed to end your life; the one exception being your own self. [Already this presents a challenge when looking into the real world of assisted dying, which I will save for another time].

As such, to take that to its absolute conclusion; there is no scenario in which I would actively take another person’s life. A fair outlook that many might share. Even when I was being actively threatened; I would still look to only incapacitate the offender that was actively trying to end my life.

So far this can be quite clear cut - hopefully no-one reading this will actively seek out opponents and mark them for death.

But obviously anything military ‘allows’ for people to take the lives of other humans - and whilst I can’t explicitly agree with that view; here is where the practicalities of philosophy begin to show up challenges.


As my discussion moved to the pub table with one of my friends, the fairly-real-world example of ISIS was outlined. IE there is a perceived and on-certain-levels real threat to Western society by Islamic State; would I ever take up arms should ISIS infiltrate ‘closer to home’?

Taking my pacifist stance to it’s logical extreme, I would not take up arms until a member of ISIS was literally at my door, brandishing a weapon and attempting to take my life.

Obviously that is an unlikely extreme - *but* my stance remains that is how I would react.

However, that is purely focusing on the ‘right to life’ aspect of my philosophy. I would of course not wait for that situation to arise - I would (as I am sure as a society we would) resist the influence of any extreme movement and the threat to our ways of life. But - to use the World War 2 parallel - I would not join up and take the literal fight to the trenches.


Having a limited, personal philosophy is great to found my thoughts in - but when pretty much my only moral rule is ‘don’t kill anyone else’ - that leaves the rest of the spectrum of moral obligation to on-the-hoof creation.

Which, in fairness, is why morality is so fluid - so subjective (I challenge you to find any moral absolute with a strong philosophical founding, with the exception being the ‘don’t kill anyone else’ rule) - and why my particular philosophy leaves a lot open to discussion.


Perhaps an even stranger aspect to my mind in recent months has been the very definite impact of emotional thought, emotional understanding, and just generally dealing with emotions taking charge of things - how I operate, for one.

It becomes immensely difficult to apply logical thought to my personal experiences when they are sidelined by emotional drive. Which really rather scared me at first (I’ve not lived that way before) - in fact I worried that the philosophical base I’ve built over the years would be utterly swept away.

But I’m starting to have head-space again, and I’m trying to contextualise a lot of what I have been through in the past year (pretty much all of it good things by the way!); however I expect I will reach some sort of nadir that rationalises that a lot of these things cannot be explained, or hold any eternal value outside of the people experiencing these things, and such what would be the value of analysing things further?

What is important is that I continue to experience life as it is - a never-ending stream of consciousness (well, except for when I’m asleep I guess…) - and if I know one thing at least from my own philosophy; everything you experience is only unique to one person - and so externalising that beyond social interaction with friends and family, it loses significance.


I really have no idea where I’ve ended up on this blog; my writing belies a distraction in my mind (again - hoping to share more very soon) - but perhaps it also belies a change in my attitude to contextualising my thoughts.

I hope that I can revisit a lot of these blogs sometime and gather my thoughts properly into a book of philosophical thinking, which I - for one - would find a useful thing to look back on.


But what are memories if you have no-one to share them with?


Maybe I’ll just get out there and live an unrecorded life - no need for documenting the journey?

Oooh. That’s it… Finish on a properly angsty live-journal-esque statement that leaves the reader (and - frankly - the writer) wondering just what the heck they are on about…


TL;DR - Philosophy is all very well and good as a framework for existence - but just try and explaining that to the judge when you’re defending your actions at a public tribunal by claiming to be nothing more than a brain in a jar, or a marble in a bag of marbles containing the universe…

[Definitely time for bed - g’nite!]


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