My husband impresses the hell out of me.
A political scientist and social activist, he writes an informed blog and puts the constant in constant reader. He delves deep into issues and you can be assured his opinions are backed by much critical thinking. He doesn’t rely on the nonsensical, half-baked crap that passes for analysis on Sean Hannity and the like but instead reads Court Opinions, Legislative Bills, and analyses by accredited experts and actual scholars in the field.
To give an example of the kind of reading he does, he is three-fourths through Hannah Arendt’s Origin of Totalitarianism, a massive three-volume academic work. If you are unfamiliar with Arendt, imagine a particularly erudite work with a ton of footnotes. Then triple the number of footnotes.
I, on the other hand, have really dropped the academic ball since graduating with distinction in philosophy. Oh, I’ve thought about different philosophical issues, and those issues are still important to me — but I haven’t made the concentrated effort in my field like he has to advance my knowledge of such things.
There are several reasons for this, none of them good; although probably a good chunk of them rest on the shoulders of depression and feeling overwhelmed, stupid, and drenched in a sense of meaninglessness.
I have an inkling of the kind of questions I am asking, but there is so much nothing out there that it is hard to even know where to begin to find the answers. Compounding and confounding things are the dead-ends you are bound to find. For you won’t necessarily know a particular author is full of crap until you understand his or her crap. Or it may be the case that the author is not so much full of crap, but it turns out that the questions he or she is answering is not what you were looking for after all.
In other words, if you really want to “solve” philosophical “problems,” it requires a lot of time and effort, both of which are in limited supply. So it can be a challenge to even know where to begin, encouraging a constant ever-present real fear of your efforts being “wasted”.
But on the other hand, time and effort will be “wasted” just as quickly standing still. So I reckon I should try to pick myself up and travel a little further down the road before I die. So I’m bookmarking sites like PhilPapers and checking out possibly illuminating library books. I’m working on wrapping my mind around what it is I’m trying to answer.
Still, there is that nagging voice screaming in my head “Dead-end, dead end.” So I’m also working on responding to it with “but maybe, just maybe, it’s not.”
And maybe even adding something a little stronger: “And if it is a dead-end, so what?”