Did philosophy ruin my life?

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest -- whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories -- comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer."



I understand completely where you are coming from... I have seemingly been exiled to the mire of an existentialist swamp self-created within the confines of my own mind. After having spent years studying the work of great philosophers from Aristotle, Plato, and beyond to supposed mystics like GI Gurdjieff-I still have yet to find any definitive answer as to why sentient life is doomed to a lifetime of suffering with only the briefest respites of pleasure and happiness throughout our lives.

I struggle to find relevance in the modern world, a place where I feel I belogn, or the entire "human experience" in general.

I'm not even certain I feel for anything or anyone at this point in my life. Everything feels like an uphill battle at this point. Call me Sisyphus.

I had a few chances to become wealthy via internet marketing in my 20's, get married, raise children, live the "American Dream", and instead turned to heavy drug use and promiscuous sex like many of the famous existentialists resorted to in an attempt to fill this void that has always existed inside of me.

There really isn't an easy answer that I, or anyone else for that matter, can give you.

You have to find your own raison d'tre.

I can only leave you with my favorite quote by Camus...

"In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger - something better, pushing right back."

You have to dig deep to find something inside of you that still wants to live and accept all the absurdity that comes with it.

I apologize in advance for any spelling mistakes, English is not my native language.

Some of the answers here claim that, if philosophy caused you suffering, than you must have read it wrong, or you didn't understand it. I would argue quite the opposite: suffering has been in fact pointed out by many philosophers, such as Nietzsche and Heidegger, as an indicator of having actually understood what is being said by them (Heidegger talks about "anguish as a way towards authenticity").

Some of the authors you listed are particularly strong in their message.

Nietzsche and Foucault will tell you much about how the criteria that we absolutely need for life is necessarily arbitrary, and how our notions of morality, justice, truth, language, politics, meaning and fulfillment are inevitably filled with fallacies and illusions.

Sartre will give you the burden of freedom: you are entirely responsible for your own life: "man is the future of man". And he will rob you of something most humans deploy as a major source of coping with existence: bad-faith: the denial of your freedom to change your circumstances, in order to avoid the trouble and pain of actually changing them, and taking responsibility for the results.

I completely, 100% understand you.

Philosophy makes you aware of just how much of a joke existence is. Kierkegaard wrote "When I grew up, I opened my eyes and saw the real world, and I began to laugh, and I haven't stopped since". He is precisely laughing at the absurdity of our actions, behavior and values. Yes, in the modern world, most of the things upon which our society is based is futile and meaningless.

As Thoreau noticed, in our world, silent suffering is the norm, philosophy has taken away the silence for you, but the same philosophical thinking will allow you to cope with the uncovered suffering.

Karl Marx wrote that "irreligious criticism is the criticism of the vale of tears of which religion is the halo". In the same way, the criticism philosophy makes of the modern way of life, with all its elements, is actually an attack on the condition that this elements hide, and help perpetuate.

The analogy with Plato's allegory of the cave is very precise. After being set free from seeing mere projections of the world, we may take a while and suffer a little while adjusting to seeing sunlight for the first time in the real world, also, leaving the safety of the cave might be frightening, but once you do get you will have achieved a state of authenticity, that will replace the cynicism you feel now.

It is only normal to feel such cynicism, philosophy will give you a perspective of things where everything is extremely relative, and with no ultimate logical foundations. How could one not be cynic about a world that is so transparently filled with lies?

Philosophy has not ruined your life, it has freed you from a world that is below the privilege of having a human brain. Philosophy has allowed you to start the way of going beyond the mere projections of the world, in this way, anguish is the cost for authenticity. The philosophical endeavor is based on the premise established by one of its founders (Socrates), that "the unexamined life is not worth living".

Philosophy will teach you about the value of the ordinary. Playing videogames and collecting simple things are not a part of the "world that is below the privilege of having a human brain", they are elements that all humans require to live, we are ritualistic beings, and should learn to see the beauty in our triviality, it is part of what makes us interesting.

Philosophy doesn't completely eliminate religion, it teaches you why we needed it in the first place, and how to cultivate the good aspects it carried. The same goes for all the other things on which our perspective is heavily affected by philosophy.

It will give you access to a higher form of experiencing music, art, the ritualistic aspects of religion, travel, relationships, and certainly, videogames and collecting. In order for that to happen, you must not give up on leaving the cave.

Keep reading, discuss your thoughts with other people, try eastern philosophy, go further back in time, write down meaningful insights. Just don't go back inside"

Have you ever tried to convince a pessimist how great life was?

Have you ever tried to convince an optimist how bad life sucks?

It's like trying to convince someone we're all going to die, when they know it already.

What you're trying to convince them of is that feeling you get when you hear those words. Except, they hear those words, but they don't get that feeling. And that's the point.

All philosophy can do - all any intellect can do - is amplify how you feel, and how you're capable of feeling.

But we're not the same person. And that's the deeper point.

So did philosophy ruin your life?


If you still believe philosophy did it, consider this.

  1. Maybe you were undecided.
  2. Maybe you are wrong. You actually always felt that way.
  3. Maybe it's something else.

Here are things you can do:

  1. You're probably still fairly undecided. Read the opposite and see if you sway back a little.
  2. Happens all the time with emotions really. The only way to change how you've always felt, is to begin to always feel something else.
  3. Just because something isn't on our mind or in our awareness doesn't mean it's not there or didn't cause this. Tragedy can trigger depression. Being hungry can make you irritable. Not getting enough sleep can leave you lethargic. Maybe you were just reading philosophy at the time. Go do something else, and you'd soon be asking something else.

But at the end of the day, if everything looks superficial to you, then maybe that's just who you are right now.

Change who you are, and you'll change how you see things.

Of course, changing people is harder than any philosophical problem. You need to know that person. It might even help to be that person. Yet, not many of us can brag about the last time we've changed ourselves. It's always easier to just live with ourselves - and spend our time pondering over philosophical problems.

Who isn't to say, maybe that's how philosophers do their best work.

And as we do that, we just change, just like that.

Good luck!

No, what happened? Your PhD wasnt accepted, you could not get tenure as professor ? Your article was rejected by some peer reviewed journal? Dont blame philosophy for your socio-economic circumstances. Did it ruin you emotionally, your marriage? This question is a meta-philosophy question. It deals with, talks about or asks meta-or second order questions ABOUT philosophy, or how to deal with philosophical texts.Reading different philosophical books or works require different approaches. First of all you would require some previous knowledge for certain kinds of texts for example logic, books on epistemology, ethics, and others. The reason this is: certain subjects such as logic and mathematics require accumulative knowledge. (Books on history for example do not require cumulative knowledge - you can read about any battle, WWII etc without previous knowledge as such texts deal with facts and information and not insights or understanding). Epistemology deals with many different subjects - so you require a general idea of what epistemology is about and then you will read texts dealing with specialized areas or subjects in the domain of Epistemology (ethics, ontology, aesthetics, etc). For a general introduction to a domain (eg epistemology) read Wikipedia. Their articles will also identify the major ‘areas' or problems in epistemology.Now on to the reading of a particular text. The reading of work from different philosophers will vary - as each writer will be an original and creative thinker. I do not talk about books that deal with the History or compilations of Western Philosophical Ideas. They are straight forward.I was required to read Kant, Husserl, Sartre etc in the original languages. Those authors wrote in more traditional ways, compared to Derrida and other French writers from the last Century - the points they try to make are nor presented by means of the usual reasoning and argumentation as they question these things and express their ideas by means of their new and original ways of seeing and understanding things.But, all texts have in common a very careful or close reading of every word, every phrase, every sentence. Then the movement from one sentence to the next one. Then an identification of the point being made, and an identification of the way the writer tries to reason for and argue for the validity of the point/s he is making, validly or invalidly. In the end you will identify the idea/s the writer is trying to express, clearly, less clearly, badly or very well presented. You might view all sorts of fallacies in reasoning, cognitive biases, appropriate ways of reasoning and other techniques employed by writers.Philosophizing is part of the Process/es of TheorizingTHE INSTITUTIONAL and PERSONAL NEED for PHILOSOPHY(Meta-Philosophy) Why read Philosophy? (of original- and creative-thinking rather than derivative, academic professionals)As a general way of viewing philosophical work - I found this.Philosophizing deals or employs certain aspects and stages of the process/es of theorizing or theory building. AND NO philosopher is even aware that that is what he is doing. I refer to this as the lack of meta-cognition (viewing how oneself and the discipline ‘thinks' and expresses itself - I wrote about this). Thus I wrote about the different stages of the process/es of theorizing.Philosophers deal haphazardly with different aspects and different stages of the process of theorizing and not the different stages as they should be dealt with. So their work appears unnecessarily complex.Philosophy hopes tyo identify and increasingly realize states of wisdom (wisdom has many types). This is not yet wisdom - factual knowledge, information, insights and understanding KNOWLEDGE, TRUTH, INSIGHT, WISDOMHere I deal with different types of wisdom imilar to PHILOSOPHY = PHILO SOPHOS = LOVE OF WISDOM with enlarged AppendicesIn my latest work PHILOSOPHY – Aims, Methods, RationaleI show the above things in detail In this meta-philosophical study I commence with an investigation of Wisdom. I then continue with an exploration of the institutionalization of the subject and the professionalization of those involved in it. This I contrast with original and creative philosophizing. In then sows that philosophizing resembles and attempts to do theorizing. The 9 questions, etc of the Socratic Method and details of the Philosophical Toolkit occur throughout different stages of theorizing as one level and one dimension of it. Linked books are FREE for download.
1 Seeking, development and realization of wisdom 4
2 Institutionalization, Professionalization of ‘philosophy' 5
3 Original and Creative Thinking Philosophizing 37
4 Philosophizing resembles Theorizing
(i) Socratic Method 41
(ii) Philosophical Toolkit 145Under section 4 I deal with different types of questions philosophers will ask and that YOU as reader should ask when you read philosophy. When u read a philosophical text you will notice that the writer deals with one of the 9 types of questions. THUS you will see, understand what the philosopher is trying to say (you view think about it meta-philosophy).Sorry for always quoting my work (all available for FREE download) , but I saw all problems in reading, writing, thinking philosophy - thus the subjewcts I wrote about and investigated carefully in a systematic manner. I did this as philosophy is my life and institutionalized philosophy is unnecessarily complex - because philosophers are unaware of what they do (NO meta-cognitive or unde

This is an interesting topic, so thank you for the A2A.

In my experience, what you have encountered can happen with philosophy, spirituality, relationships, self-awareness and self-discovery, formal education, or even moving to a new country with a different language and culture. Our identity and sense of self is often constructed - carefully and over many years - with the experiences, values and ideas we encountered growing up. When we are exposed to a new perspective that begins to undress or unravel those experiences, values and ideas...well, it is understandable that our identity, values hierarchy, and even our sense of self-worth can be disrupted, undermined or reorganized. It is, I think, completely normal. It is also an event that is difficult to forget completely.

Now, something that you point out in your comments is that you both "loved your old life," and have been told by therapists that you might have compulsive or paranoid thoughts, and have been prescribed antidepressants. I think it is probably important to separate out all of these separate components, and not jumble them all together as is easy for any of us to do. You know that you loved your old life. You have been told you may have compulsive ideation. You have identified a strong correlation between reading certain philosophers, and feeling that aspects of your life have been superficial. You've also engaged Quorans for their views about your situation, and are receiving lots of new information about wisdom, becoming more awake and aware, different resources to balance out your thinking, etc. But all of these things are really quite separate - they are not necessarily related at all. And I think that is can be an important and helpful realization to make.

Now, you are receiving therapy, and that's great. One thing I have found with my clients that can help with obsessive ideation is making sure all aspects of your life are receiving equal amounts of attention. In order to find out if this is the case, I suggest you take this self-assessment: Integral Lifework Nourishment Assessment. Just follow the instructions and see what areas may be lacking, then consider how you could better nurture yourself in any neglected areas. You can even discuss this with your therapist and see what they think. In my experience, if you do balance and harmonize your self-care across all of these areas, you will have fewer compulsive thoughts, and it can even help manage depressive episodes.

I hope this was helpful.

You have been sucked in by the negative philosophy of nihilism, which has unfortunately been particularly popular in the West now for many years. This viewpoint is very critical of itself (the West), attacks religion, capitalism, sometimes science, has encouraged the production of very unattractive art, is politically correct (even if facts point otherwise), and kills hope.

Get back to focusing on the good things in your life. The people who mean something to you (family and friends), the thing(s) that make you passionate (and work hard at it), growing to be come a better, more moral, honest human being (it's called having integrity), and take responsibility for your life. By all means reduce the presence of consumerism in your life, figure out what you really need. If you can shift your focus to those things that feed your passion (it can be your job, a cause, a hobby, whatever), it will help give your life purpose. If you are religious, get more involved in your church's (or institution's) activities. Religious or not, get more involved in community activities. Learn to appreciate the positive things in your life.

The time we have is very precious and one should aim to live it to the best of one's ability.

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