Is avoiding hypocrisy an impulse for philosophy?


Following on from this thead, and somewhat related to this question that I recently asked:

Could the job of philosophy be creating a system of belief in which I [or the thinker in general] can accept as both consistent, and less hypocritical than my pre-philosophical beliefs?


Posted 2014-08-28T23:07:17.347




The hypocritical relationships of the Sophists to money was a major point of criticism against it -- Plato's criticism is basically that they would teach anyone who paid, where Socrates would "promiscuously" teach anyone at all -- or at least those who seemed like they were bright enough to keep up... Maybe kind of interesting today to consider alongside the watering-down of curricula, in lockstep with an ongoing corporatization of an education system which increasingly considers students customers.

More generally speaking, philosophy criticizes -- it unveils illusions, and is at its most "world-historically" interesting and important in this effort to demystify, to enjoin battle against received notions, popular perception, religious/economic/political doctrines. It is useful for injuring base thinking, which proceeds "naturally," according to all the mystifications and illusions which beset our mad species. Deleuze, thinking through Nietzsche, says that philosophy is useful for saddening in the sense that it injures vulgar and base thinking, cuts them off from what they could otherwise do.

In another sense, it produces concepts permitting us to think according to singular conjunctions between human thought and the world. Because of this it is tempting to say that philosophy points to a kind of sadness of the highest happiness, for who else occupies this peak, serving no established power, neither the church nor the state nor the market? It perhaps bears thinking a little bit about who else but philosophy could operate without the hypocrisy of certain kinds of relationships to the state, the church, the market, etc.

Philosophy seeks out mystifications of any origin in order to abolish them, does battle against reactive thinking every day generation after generation, and indeed is the most important bulwark against such base/vulgar thinking going as far as it would wish; it is only philosophy in the last instance that has the singular positive essence of critique which is capable of enjoining this battle, in this way. Although I feel like I should mention here that, despite their apparent enmity at times, philosophy has no greater friend than science in this war against received notions, and more generally, the spirit of servitude to established powers which the logic of reception of these mystifying notions implies, the belittling of humanity that these illusions betray as their spiritual content.

We have been speaking about philosophy as pure critique, as this highest peak or moment of thought, "incapable" of hypocrisy for various reasons; but while it should be obvious not all that is called "philosophy" looks and feels exactly like this (since we are speaking about it at its best, its limits) -- it might be worth noting here as well that there are of course very different images of thought entirely. In this context it might be worth considering the state (or if you like "police") philosophy of Hegel, etc.

Joseph Weissman

Posted 2014-08-28T23:07:17.347

Reputation: 8 327

great reply, thank you. is it deliberately less than direct [i think that is the right word]? – None – 2014-08-29T00:25:17.887

1No problem! It might be!! It's sort of a hard problem to approach directly, a sort of circumnavigation can help sometimes (hopefully it is constructive here!) – Joseph Weissman – 2014-08-29T00:26:52.580

1@user3293056 for what it's worth: the key point to my mind would be about becoming sensitive to the ways hypocritical relations of power operate throughout society, especially in terms of certain kinds of relationships with money, or with agents of the state or church, etc. – Joseph Weissman – 2014-08-29T03:42:48.267

thanks. your clarification etc. ties into something [else...]. if it is true that money makes me happy, but i can't get it and philosophy itself can't help with my not having it [which surely it can't], then is it worth trying to thematise that? – None – 2014-08-29T04:12:36.623