While I’ve been sitting here for a couple of hours trying to write my next philosophical article for the blog, I came to realize that philosophy is a team sport not a single player game. There is a reason Socrates and Plato had people around. In a group it was easier to work on expanding their philosophy. Introspection and solitude are all well and good for some types of philosophy. However, some of my best work has arisen out of conversation and discussion with other people. In fact on this blog, the post about the shared delusion of money came from a class discussion. The give and take of ideas is like the blacksmith pounding on the iron of our thoughts forging it into something beautiful and useful.
In this Internet age and as an American the idea of being the “rugged individual” is seductive. Do it alone rely on no one. American culture is saturated with that idea. I didn’t realize that it had infected me so deeply until now. Of course I do think individualism is a positive in moderation. I do not believe, as Spock says, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. However, there needs to be a balance between individualism and community. The strength of the Internet is that it allows us to create a broader community. Of course the curse is it also allows us to sit alone and isolated.
As we move into the 21st century we will need to figure out how to integrate this into our new society. It was easy when we were the hunter gathers sitting around the camp fire gossiping, or discussing the meaning of life. As culture has evolved we as humans continued to evolve ways of keeping that community. Only now that culture is evolving so rapidly are we seeing such difficult times in keeping up. We will find the balance between being inundated by senseless noise from tweets, snapchats, tumblr’s, etc. After all while the Internet creates these barriers they can also be the tools to network and communicate more widely than ever before. It’s just a matter of finding the balance.
I’ve always felt out of time. I feel like I would’ve been more at home in a powdered wig in Philadelphia in 1776, or a chiton in Greece studying with Plato as a classmate. Yet I also felt that I should be wearing that science blue velour shirt and boldly going where no man has gone. I hope having one foot in the past and one foot in the future means I’ll be able to help build a better now. A balanced now, where individualism and community are balanced.
I may have forgotten that philosophy isn’t a single player game. I, like most Americans also forgot that America isn’t a single player game. In fact life isn’t a single player game. So I’m going to go out and talk to people, figure out what I need to in order to write that next blog article. I’ll also go out and work on reminding everyone that humans are not lone wolves, we are social animals and need to live in a group together in order to forge a decent society. I will work on reminding my fellow Americans that the era of the solitary loner sitting in the dark staring mindlessly at the glowing PC screen needs to come to an end, because we are playing a team game; the game of life.