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1.2 Philosophy

First live, then philosophize...
Much philosophizing moves on the ground of argument if not on that of outright eristic. It does not hurt, of course, to be able to meet an objection or two to some position one might hold, but an argument won is neither a guarantee of being right nor is being right in this sense necessarily the best reason for exercising our faculty of reason. We learn this not only from the many positions successfully defended in the past that turned out to be in error - Plato being a veritable compendium of cases in point - but also by reminding ourselves that abstract knowledge has uses more basic than those that serve the scoring of points in arguments. One such use is to help orient ourselves in this rich and varied existence, and to help us comprehend the experiences that come our way in the course of it. Consider in this connection the hypothetical case of a secular philosopher who has forged for himself a formidable reputation as the nemesis of philosophical idealism. One fine morning during a walk in his garden he finds himself floating outside of his body as a disembodied consciousness, observing with full perceptual clarity the buzzing of bees and the bobbing of chrysanthemums in the light morning breeze. He comes away from this experience with the unshakeable conviction of being an immaterial, immortal spirit and proceeds to dedicate the rest of his life to the propagation of a brand of theosophy. The error of his conclusion flowed not from abstract propositions but from the inability of his abstract propositions to deal with his experience. This, therefore, is a prior task of our reasoning: to equip us to deal with experience, and not simply with any experience - like that of a tomato - but with all of experience, and even with all possible experience, because just like a picture can be worth 1000 words, so there are experiences that can overturn 1024 well-formed propositions...