What Is Philosophy?

Is philosophy the sum total of what philosophers have written and have been recorded as saying, whether on YouTube or by other writers? Heraclitus the ancient Greek is only known from quotations, but what quotations! “Everything is in flux” or “Everything flows away.” “One day is like another.” These are two that have stuck in my feeble memory. They are what I live by. “One day is like another” helps me survive Christmas. Everything flows away helps me endure being constantly tripped up and stymied by my own forgetfulness, and helps me enjoy what is not memory, namely the present infinite moment and it’s astonishing beauty, depths, drama, colour.

Is J.Krishnamurti a philosopher? If so we’d have to discard the ostensive definition above (philosophy is all that has been written by philosophers), and substitute something much more flexible, about wisdom and the self. To quote Krishnamurti himself, “The truth is what is, what actually is, from moment to moment.” “The repetition of truth is a lie.” “There is no authority [in the matter of truth and spiritual and psychological things].” Truth and wisdom we must discover afresh for ourselves every moment, other wise they are just concepts, words, totally empty. “The word is not the thing.” In other words, the word “tree” is not the tree. It’s so simple. Too simple for many people to understand.

But if we can understand this, not intellectually but with our whole being, if we can give this everything we’ve got, then a revolution takes place and we will never be the same again. It is then as if a screen were removed from in front of us, and we see for the first time. We see inwardly too. There is no longer any divide between the inner and the outer. To understand in this way is to fall in love with life. Unlike falling in love between people, this falling in love is something that does not fade. There is an upwelling of cheerfulness that does not go away. I think it will go on until death.

  January 2019


Ethics and Fact

Traditionally, philosophers have distinguished matters of fact from ethical matters. You cannot deduce an ethical statements from factual statements, they have said; what you ought to do is in a different category from what is.

If you want to make a decision, however, don’t you look at the facts? If you need to make up your mind what do do about some burning question, some problem, a friend in trouble, a danger threatening you or a friend, look at the facts. Take careful stock, not with the idea of working out what to do, but just to see the situation you are in. Do it calmly. As calmly as the situation will allow. Then you will see what to do. The situation will tell you. If it doesn’t tell you immediately, and there is time, stay with it. Sleep on it. It will tell you. It is not you imposing your picture onto the situation, but let the situation tell you what it is. It is a two way process. It is more of a passive process. You look. Almost, there is no “you”, there is just the situation. You are quiet, the situation is there.

The philosophers don’t say this. Traditionally philosophy has omitted a great deal.

July 2019