My impression about philosophers, at least from reading this site, is that they all seem cheery. Is this not the case? Questions come in and the respondents seem positively to delight in the cleverness of their responses. Fine distinctions are drawn, the question is rephrased and then rephrased again - and all of this seems to be done with the utmost optimism. It is as if the philosophers, in receiving a question, have been given a play-thing, like silly putty, that they can mold indefinitely, or like a kaleidoscope through which they can view the thing from different angles and with different colors.
Often the questions seem to me of the utmost seriousness, but a serious response doesn't seem fashionable. Is it unprofessional?
It is a fact that we die; what's more, this fact - one which has an enormous, even decisive impact - on how most of us conduct our lives - is entirely irrational. We cannot deduce any necessity for it from the axioms of mathematics, say. This fact disturbs us in our sleep and waking hours - it urges us to complete certain actions, ask for certain people's forgiveness before time expires. Yet while our lives are guided by this thorough irrationality, we employ reason as our mechanism for doing philosophy. Philosophy, which asks the big questions about the meaning of life, etc., uses as its main tool a mechanism that is the opposite of what is most important to us. Would you agree with this characterization?
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