Oh, right – the world

If I’ve relented from espousing opinions on the world lately, it’s because of two things (primarily):

    1. The world is nuts.


  • Too many people are trying to make sense of #1


Let me qualify this…well, actually no. No, I don’t think it’s necessary to qualify either of these. This isn’t a formal academic essay.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose work I’ve found myself inexplicably drawn to lately, believed that the role of philosophy wasn’t to change the world, but rather to articulate it 1. I’ve played with this aphorism for quite a while, objectively and personally; while not conclusive, I suspect it applies to more than just philosophy.

Music, calculus, meditation…essentially, the Big Three 2 : Art, Science, and Religion.

I suppose what I’m getting at (as I type this on borrowed time, with little sleep, on an old laptop, knowing that at any minute someone’s going to drop the proverbial Anvil of Stress on my head) is that rather than having a Romantic notion that the world needs to be changed, perhaps we should focus primarily on expressing what exactly it is first, unwieldy though it may be. We can’t even start to explain what the world is (and thus, life) without starting from the beginning: how we individually see it, how we individually live our lives, and the extent to which our individual morals and ethics weigh our actions. Let’s face it, if we can’t articulate these foundational (and certainly more practical) questions then the world, try as we might to change it, will most likely turn and laugh in our face…or just walk by, carrying shopping bags, without looking (in Toronto, anyway).

Instead of trying to ram our passions down the throats of others 3 in the (rather selfish) hope that everyone’s life will change as a result of our unbottled wisdom, what if we changed our approach? What if, instead of proselytizing, we simply worked on articulating ourselves as well as possible (as if that wasn’t formidable enough)? I would argue that a well-conceived, original articulation of an individual point of view would have a much better chance of affecting our environment in the long term than all the thunder and plunder of what essentially boils down to a Crusade To Make The World Understand The Way [place name here] Sees It.

It’s funny that, when the emphasis of our philosophical passions are changed from “tell it like it is” to “tell your story well”, you wind up with less fire and brimstone (ie outrage) and a greater sense of awareness.

1. Michael Dummet, “Vagueness: A Reader”, Edited by Rosanna Keefe and Peter Smith, (essay: Wang’s paradox, pg.100), MIT Press 2002

2. (articulated previously here)

3. (boy, could this sentence be misconstrued)


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