I'm pretty excited about this new opinion series in the New York Times called The Stone, which will "feature the writings of contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless." The first piece is by Simon Critchley (the moderator of the series) who tackles the question what is a philosopher? in little more than 1000 words. Here are some of them:
By contrast, we might say, the philosopher is the person who has time or who takes time. Theodorus, Socrates’ interlocutor, introduces the “digression” with the words, “Aren’t we at leisure, Socrates?” The latter’s response is interesting. He says, “It appears we are.” As we know, in philosophy appearances can be deceptive. But the basic contrast here is that between the lawyer, who has no time, or for whom time is money, and the philosopher, who takes time. The freedom of the philosopher consists in either moving freely from topic to topic or simply spending years returning to the same topic out of perplexity, fascination and curiosity. Pushing this a little further, we might say that to philosophize is to take your time, even when you have no time, when time is constantly pressing at our backs...
Socrates adds that the philosopher neither sees nor hears the so-called unwritten laws of the city, that is, the mores and conventions that govern public life. The philosopher shows no respect for rank and inherited privilege and is unaware of anyone’s high or low birth. It also does not occur to the philosopher to join a political club or a private party. As Socrates concludes, the philosopher’s body alone dwells within the city’s walls. In thought, they are elsewhere.This all sounds dreamy, but it isn’t. Philosophy should come with the kind of health warning one finds on packs of European cigarettes: PHILOSOPHY KILLS.
And with that rather dramatic thought, I leave you to find out exactly why philosophy is so dangerous. Take your time.