Philosophy separated itself from science when it posed the question: what kind of knowledge of the world and life is it through which man can live happiest?Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human
Short and sweet. Science should never be dictated by trying to make humankind happy, comfortable or safe. It undercuts every instinct we’ve developed over the millennia in more ways than one. The idea that market forces should dictate where science goes is equally absurd, the market follows what gives pleasure far faster than what is necessary or beneficial. Why did we have a pill to give men erections before a male version of birth control? Because market forces bow to momentary pleasure over long term stability and social good every single time. By focusing on happiness philosophy discarded it’s family ties to science, charting a path that’s one part pseudo-science, one part social science, one part would be theology and one part mental masturbation. So little of what is written by philosophers says anything at all, let alone worth reading.
The objective of happiness applied a ligature to the arteries of scientific research.Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human
Human’s were driven to evolve because evolution was necessary to survive. By making happiness (and lets go ahead and call it pleasure, and momentary at that) the goal philosophy sets itself against the very forces that molded humanity into what it is. I fear if we continue to allow science to be dictated by market forces and pleasure without at least finding some other standard to balance it out, we will push ourselves into an evolutionary dead end. What particular end, what narrative leads us into the cul-de-sac, is irrelevant. Once we see that we’ve reached a dead end, it is already too late. Science should spread in all directions equally, happiness and pleasure should play no role and dictating the direction or funding of that science. And since what people are willing to pay for is very much tied to pleasure, market forces should be zeroed out as quickly as possible.
As it is, scientific effort not directed by private companies for humanities personal pleasure or spent by militaries around the goal so leaders can get the pleasure of sending others to fight and die for them, is flagging. It has reached the point where large portions of the population once again question whether scientific truths even exist! Nihilism, like so many things, is cyclic. The fact that it has infected the largest and richest democracy is disturbing but not surprising. Nihilism spreads within the extremes, those with nothing to lose and those with nothing worth losing is where it starts, which describes america as it is. Raw materialism satisfies very little inside the human heart and mind. Why respect law or others when those rewarded the most are those with no respect at all? Especially when we have so much that means so little.
Philosophers have faltered for similar reasons. Reading philosophy is the art of pulling small amounts of meaning from tomes of language. A philosopher is never happier than when they can say something using two hundred words instead of twenty. Focusing on the idiosyncrasies of how language works instead of the intended meaning behind the language used. Creating layers where none are needed or desired. Deriving meaning that was neither intended, hinted at or desired by the original author. American philosophy is a game for the over educated whose only followers are each other. Very little truly new seems to be created. Where philosophers used to dominate the conversation, stride across intellectual battlefields as weapons of mass destruction, they step lightly while staring at their own shoe print as if some deep truth may exist there.
Is it any wonder that the masses no longer look to philosophy as something to admire? or trust? But true philosophers, those with the calling rather than those who have chosen it as an occupation, would be the best to fight against this rising tide of nihilism that I fear may very well radically change the western world as we know it. Who better to defend science, truth and meaning against those who desire only chaos and anarchy? To explain why these things matter, why we need to fight for open dialogues and transparency in our elections. Why commiting a crime matters more than what political party someone belongs to. But American philosophy doesn’t foster mental giants girded for battle against mindless destruction, but a few lonely generally adequate souls that would rather argue about Platonic ideals than face down the truly challenging questions of modern times.