Friday, July 24, 2015

Philosophy is not therapy

I've an essay in the new Island magazine: 'Philosophy is not a therapy'.

As the title suggests, I'm arguing that philosophy can sometimes be remedial -- but it need not. Much that is true and fascinating in the works of the greatest minds can be useless for mental health. A sample:
[P]hilosophy often works, not be discovering some Polyanna talking point, but by following curiosity. And the exercise of curiosity can be undertaken for its own sake, because we are a species of unusually abstract intelligence. As David Hume noted in the eighteenth century, there is a pleasure associated with this academic labour: flexing the intellectual muscles. But we need not dignify curiosity by making it quickly and obviously useful. Plenty of philosophical ideas are true and interesting, but perfectly useless if you are depressed or anxious.
You can pick up Issue #141 in newsagents and bookshops now, or subscribe to have hot literature delivered right to your table.

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