I never considered myself much of a philosopher. But I am now in my 60’s and I sort of find that as all roads used to lead to Rome, all roads seem to lead to philosophy! For a while I was studying famous scholars across all of the humanities. And I began to notice something. As one moved deeper and deeper upwards into the various disciplines, two things happened:
1. Everything started turning into mathematics. I suppose math is really at the root of just about everything if you think about it. We can even reduce many day to day questions or even philosophical bits of wisdom down to binary statements of even equations. Wittgenstein seemed to be getting at this. People have remarked that mathematics is “the ultimate language.”
2. Everything started turning into philosophy. After writing and doing research in their specialty for a long time, scholars all across the humanities started turning late in their careers to philosophy and how their branch of humanities could be explained philosophically. Obviously this is true of literature. Look at literary criticism nowadays. Especially with critical theory, so much of lit crit deals with actual philosophy. Philosophy in a way seems to be the peak one reaches whenever one starts climbing of the stairs of any humanities branch. They all meet in philosophy at the top. If mathematics is the ultimate language, perhaps philosophy is the ultimate mode of thinking. Philosophy after all is the “science of thought” or the “study of human knowledge.” That’s a pretty impressive endeavor right there, just to even attempt to explain such deep things.
At my age, we are said to peak in wisdom. I suppose that’s true. Younger friends have been telling me that lately and some colleagues even call me sensei. Some don’t like it. A 20 year old Asian hottie recently dumped me cruelly:
What’s wrong with you. You’re so different from when I met you. You sound like some philosopher! Come back when you want to act like a man!
I’m not trying to do this.
But in the last few years, I am finding that my writing is tending more and more towards philosophical questions not because I intend to but instead because I seem to be reaching the limits of a lot of the subjects I write about, and when you reach for the sky of most any humanities subject, as I noted, everything starts turning into philosophy. Philosophy is where you end up when you start traveling down any humanities road. Philosophy is where it all starts coming together in some sort of “ultimate explanation.”
To tell the truth, I always thought philosophy was unreadable and stupid. But it’s nothing more than wisdom, and we all want to be wise. And it gives great explanatory power to the world for those of us who are always looking to put together the “big picture” of most anything around us. That’s precisely what philosophy is always trying to do: look for the “big picture” behind anything.