Philosophy Should be Guided by Action

It is popular in many intellectual circles to chew the intellectual cud without ever acting on it. It is also popular to spend a lot of time mulling over things that can’t be acted upon. There are whole sections of philosophy that are just big wastes of time to read and think about because they don’t deal in anything practically useful. In short, they don’t deal with people, their lives and how to make them better. Now, obviously philosophy has to deal with things that aren’t immediately useful, like beauty for instance; but beauty is an example of something that, while not needed in the moment, is needed in the long haul. Thus philosophy should concern itself with people and their good, both long and short term. It should not deviate from that objective. A very good yardstick for measuring philosophic thought is, Can it be acted upon? Can whatever a philosopher is mulling be used by people? If not, it is a waste of time. It is fine to chew over something not practically useful as a hobby, in the off hours. But those of us that make it our job to help guide people towards truth should focus our, if you will, professional hours of thought on practical matters. We shouldn’t get carried away mulling things of only limited or no practical value. We should stick, in the main, to: politics, economics, people’s relations with others, foreign affairs, family life, and the general conduct of life in the day-to-day. These practical matters, and others like them, should be our focus of thought. Plumbing the depths of things like harmony, beauty, the importance of myth, and so forth, all have their place, but it is a small place. As noted above, beauty deserves contemplation: but most of us have a good handle on beauty, and thus the amount of thought beauty needs is comparatively small. Issues that need more thought are: should people get married and have families? How should men and women act with each other? What should our national stance be towards other nations? What should our public education model look like? These are important questions that must be answered. These questions, and others like them, immediately impact people in their day-to-day lives, and must be answered intelligently if we, as a nation, are to be as healthy as possible. We can limp along if these issues are handled badly, but why should we limp along? Why should we spend the flower of our thought on issues of almost no importance to tens of millions of people? Lets focus our minds, our learning, and our efforts, on solving the practical problems that hamper so many lives.