I finally figured out something.
After many years of soul searching and asking other people, I finally figured out why philosophy isn’t popular. Why no one ever mentions the name Immanuel Kant or says the words “virtue ethics”, even when the conversation is about deontology or virtue ethics.
Or why contemporary philosophers like Peter Singer and Slavoj Žižek are relegated to occasional appearances on NPR.
Or why Cornel West is identified as a social critic and not a philosopher. And why, when anyone discusses matters of religion, they turn to guys like Rick Warren and not to philosophers like Peter van Inwagen.
There’s a reason why the only metaphysics ever spoken about is ghost hunting and talking to the dead.
That kind of metaphysics gets its own TV show.
What I discovered is this: nobody talks to philosophers or talks philosophy because nobody likes philosophy.
It’s all pie-in-the-sky navel gazing and talking about nothing.
More people follow the life philosophy and ethics of Donald Trump than they follow the life philosophy and ethics of Aristotle.
That’s why this metaphysician
Sells more books than this metaphysician
If you told the average person you’re into metaphysics, it’s more likely that they’d think you’re into Sylvia Browne or that you’ve mastered The Secret. There’s a real problem for your field of interest when you mention the word “philosophy” and people think you’re talking about the Laws of Attraction.
If I had to put money on it, I’d bet the reason why small “m” metaphysics is more popular than capital “M” metaphysics (that is, philosophical metaphysics) has to do with the fact that when you practice small m metaphysics, you’re supposed to get things.
Practitioners of The Secret call these things “abundance”.
Mike Dooley, who is featured in The Secret, says “Thoughts become things”. According to Dooley, it’s not just that what we think influences how we perceive reality, what we think actually affects the world around us. That is to say, our thoughts can become real things in the real world. We can actualize our desires for a good job, a good home, stable, and substantive relationships with our significant others. And, we can manifest abundance.
That means lots of money.
You see, if you practice small “m” metaphysics, it can make you very rich.
I wouldn’t claim that Rhonda Byrne is infinitely more knowledgeable than Socrates or Immanuel Kant, or that James van Praagh’s Talking to Heaven is a better philosophical guide than Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. it’s just that subscribing to one philosophy is potentially more financial rewarding than the other.
It’s as simple as that.
Think of it: small “m” metaphysics tells us that we can attract things like money and happiness simply by thinking about it. On the other hand, Aristotle’s brand of happiness, eudemonia, or “flourishing”, doesn’t even require that a person be emotionally happy.
According to Aristotle, even a dead man can be happy.
In fact, according to John Stuart Mill, we should prefer to be a dissatisfied Socrates than want to be a satisfied pig.
If how our lives end is any indication of how fulfilling one’s life is (financially or otherwise), one can make an argument that being a philosopher positively sucks.
- Socrates was condemned to death and forced to drink hemlock.
- Isocrates starved to death.
- Hypatia was killed by a mob of Christians.
- Seneca was ordered to cut his own throat.
- Descartes died from the common cold.
- Richard Montague was beaten to death.
- Jacques Derrida died of pancreatic cancer.
- Leibniz died of arthritis and gout (I had no idea either one of those conditions was fatal)
- Camus died in a car accident.
- Foucault died from complications from AIDS.
…. It’s been rumored that Nietzsche died of syphilis.
I’d bet that none of those philosophers were blessed with “abundance”, either.
Deepak Chopra is worth an estimated 80 million dollars.
And, unlike Descartes, Deepak Chopra was on the Oprah Winfrey Show.