Philosophy exited my life after I was done with the required readings at school. I had no reason to keep at it. It was taught to me as a duller version of history: this person thought this, that person claimed that. There was no rhyme or reason behind it all. There was no goal in learning it besides getting a better grade and being cultured. The latter was of little interest to a 17-year-old.
As I went through life, I was as unprepared as anyone else for the trials and tribulations of adulthood – loss, adversity, existential dread, dealing with tyrannical structures, resisting temptation, fear of all the possible futures that end in absolute disaster, etc.
A friend lost his mother a couple of months back. Most of us are going to go through that. It is an entirely predictable event in most lives. Yet my friend found himself dreadfully unprepared, as are most of us.
Why are we not taught how to deal with stuff like this in school?
After a lengthy detour into the personal development (or “self-help,” as they dislike being called) industry, I finally came back to philosophy, via Marcus Aurelius and other Stoics. That’s when it dawned on me: there was a place for people to teach us about how to conduct ourselves in the face of life’s challenges. That’s what philosophy class was supposed to be for.
Someone messed that one up, badly.
That’s part of what I’m trying to do here, with some of these essays. I’m trying to take back philosophy, to rescue it from the classroom and bringing it back to where it belongs: to people’s lives.