Important Nonsense by Steven Brutus
Essays in Philosophy

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This book explores a number of themes in the psychology of philosophy. I am investigating the emotions that incite philosophy, the emotions that sustain philosophy, and the emotions in which philosophy results. My subjects include suffering, which I think of as an important beginning for philosophy; philalethes, or love of truth, which I see as animating the practice of philosophy; and hope, which I think of as an important outcome of philosophy.

One of the main ideas of this work is that suffering upsets the meaning we give our lives. We cannot live without meaning. Philosophy responds to moral crisis and struggles to heal what suffering has injured. The high calling of philosophy has the humble purpose of enabling us to reenter the world and act. My study of suffering and of philosophy that struggles with it leads me to the conclusion that resilience in the face of suffering is a choice. There is no explanation for human strength greater than the decision to be strong. Suffering incites philosophy and philosophy emboldens hope. My study of hope and of philosophy that awakens it leads me to the conclusion that human beings can only understand what is directly in front of them by imagining it into a still unrealized future. The core function of thinking is a kind of hoping forward. This hope meets one obstacle after another and is repeatedly dashed and rekindled. Philosophy is therapy for this restless, knocked-about, rising and falling, core function of hope. This book examines several such offers of therapy, narrates several case histories, and assesses the benefits of philosophic interventions. All these cures propose to liberate us from the past and all count on the power of choice. But their recommendations are quite different – they answer different problems – they advocate different lives. Some try to talk us down. They look for peace, calm, unknowing. Some try to psych us up. They try to get us back in the fight, and to love something worth fighting for. We have to question all these strategies, thinking beyond them, to pose the question about philosophy and the role it should play in our lives. The title of this book is drawn from Frank Ramsey’s 1929 essay entitled “Philosophy.” Ramsey thought that we are driven to philosophize because we do not know clearly what we mean. Philosophy therefore is a reflection on meaning. It tries to make sense of things and cut away nonsense. But he wondered whether philosophy itself is nonsense. He added that, if this is our finding, we should not trick ourselves into thinking that philosophy is important nonsense.

I am also trying to understand philosophy by wondering whether philosophy is nonsense, and what drives us to it, and what it is trying to accomplish, and whether it is in any way important.

About Steven Brutus

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Steven Brutus hails from Chicago and has degrees in philosophy from St. John's College and the Claremont Graduate University, also having studied philosophy in Germany and France. The author has more than thirty years' experience teaching philosophy.
Published May 13, 2012 by Steven Brutus. 253 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Law & Philosophy.

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Rather than bringing any new ideas to the table, this book reads more like a primer on philosophical thought throughout the ages, in which Brutus demonstrates considerable command over the looming philosophical questions that continue to plague contemplative modern man.

Jul 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Important Nonsense: Essays in...

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