When to start doing philosophy

So you're going to start doing philosophy once you've secured your standard of living? You'll just make sure you have a sufficiently secure basis before you dedicate your life to reflecting, and improving yourself (as opposed to pursuing your career, and improving your bank account)? All in good time, I hear you saying: there is a time for action, and another for reflection (which is sometime later).

Let's trace our reasoning carefully here. If you think you should first secure a certain standard of living before even starting reflection on the goals of your life, then you have made one decision already: whatever else, whichever other goals might turn out to be important, that level of living well ranks higher. (You've also already taken for granted that the way you are building your career right now is the optimal way to do that.) Is that really how you see your priorities?

Consider also that all the time, energy and resources you've put into reaching your desired standard of living are lost for whatever those other goals might have been. Suppose your life happens to end just at the moment when you finally get there. Would you, in this case, say that you have spent your time wisely, that you've invested it in the most important cause that there was (namely, your standard of living)?

And are you sure that you can, and should, only then begin reflecting when these matters are settled? Imagine how things will look to you when you actually have reached that level, the one of which you now think that there you will stop, that there you won't want more, that there you will no longer postpone reflection on your real goals. What, in this situation, will compel you to actually stop, what will enable you to resist the desire for getting to an even higher standard before you get down to those other things, what will guarantee that you don't use the exactly same argument again which you're using now for not getting down to the real business of your life? (And what happens when, after you've started to reflect and go after your real goals, you fall back to some lower standard? Will you have to return to working on your career in that case?)

How was it some years ago: when you were on a lower standard of living? Since then, you've made progress in that area: you are now on a higher level than you were then. Why isn't that improvement enough, then? You might have said, at that earlier time, the same thing you're saying now. You might have argued that you wanted to get to some higher standard first, before starting something like philosophizing. Well — now you're there. So why not get down to it right away? Take care.
Copyright © 2007-2012 by Leif Frenzel. All rights reserved.