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“Strike at the Root”


Descartes’ legacy to all of us via philosophy can be labeled, I think, as rationalism (discovery of truth through pure reason), dichotomy (mind/body split), and certainty. Even though very few of us know anything about philosophy, almost everything we think results from the philosophy we inherit through social osmosis (unconscious assimilation). Philosophy theory permeates almost all of our mental gymnastics without our conscious recognition.


I speculate that such is true because it fits well for the ego of all humans, especially philosophers, and because it also fits well with the interests of the Christian faith. Descartes’ legacy makes it easy to place our self in a hierarchy of being with humans one step below God and a giant step above animals.


It appears to me that psychology would say that we are essentially creatures of desire rather than creatures of contemplation. A modern day Descartes, who was tuned into Freudian psychology, might very well conclude that “I desire, therefore, I am”.


If we want to understand our self and our world we will necessarily have to learn some bit of philosophy and psychology. We become interested in philosophy when we begin to ask questions that go to the ‘root’ of all matters and we turn to psychology if we want to comprehend why humans do the things we do.


Someone said that only one person in a thousand ever “strikes at the root”. I do not think a liberal democracy in a hi-tech world can survive if such remains to be true. Hi-tech gives us the ability to easily destroy our self and our world; liberal democracy makes all citizens to be sovereign and thus responsible in some small way for the integrity of our existence.


We are all in the same boat and if only one person in a thousand accepts the responsibility of democracy I think our species may have a very limited engagement on this planet. I think that we must become much more intellectually sophisticated than we are now and I do not expect that our educational systems can help us much in that effort. We must become independent learners.

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