Good Philosophy is Servant Philosophy: Mesoteric and Exoteric Philosophy: A mission statement

Here is my understanding of what a good philosophy might look like. Three types of education need to be in view. To see these three, first start with two: Lay philosophy versus Professional philosophy.

Here is my understanding of what a good philosophy might look like. Three types of education need to be in view. To see these three, first start with two: Lay philosophy versus Professional philosophy. Professional philosophers operate at a very high level, in the sense that the works that they consume, produce, and engage in, require many years of investment before the works can be understood. Contrast this with what I’d call Lay philosophy, which is basically what one might encounter in a good introductory survey course in philosophy. I say ‘good’ because a good intro course is built in a way to be challenging but still accessible, and the bad course doesn’t actually provide a helpful introduction to philosophy that really helps the student.

If I could rename ‘lay philosophy’ with ‘exoteric’ and ‘professional’ with ‘esoteric’, then we’ll be getting somewhere. I think that philosophy influences people a great deal, but it does so in a very roundabout way. It is like that rudder in a great ship. If you were watching somebody in the depths of a cruise ship, it might appear that they are not doing much (working on machines, servicing them, etc), but this would be a mistake. The whole ship relies on the engineers in the ship. This is an imperfect analogy, but important. Philosophers influence other people in the university, which in turn, educate others, like those in education. So, esoteric philosophy is that hard-to-understand expert philosophy, and exoteric philosophy is for public consumption. ‘Ex’ summons to mind ‘outside,’ and ‘eso’ invokes ‘inside’ or ‘into’. In the middle, is ‘meso’ which simply mean ‘middle.’ As a philosopher, I wish to be a mesoteric philosopher that straddles the esoteric and the exoteric, between the high-level abstruse philosophy and the lower-level introductions to philosophy.

In many ways, I think that the exoteric and mesoteric philosophical levels are more important for society. Consider the political divisions, the crises of education, and so many other issues. Much of these things would be far different if the majority of the populace had access to what I would call good philosophy, that simplifies, unifies, and clarifies, our growing body of human knowledge. That is, in my estimation, philosophers should provide a way to understand how all of the bodies fit together (unifying), while carefully showing how each province of knowledge is different from another (clarifying differences) and simplifies hard-won wisdom into accessible statements that help a people live meaningful, resilient, rewarding lives. (See Adler, Maritain)

In this sense, I think philosophy should be a kind of service to people. But this is an odd position to have for an academic, as most academic, in terms of numbers derived from polling data, don’t like the free market (except for good economists). Free markets are about goods and services, where a person thrives if and only if, a one helps other people thrive, providing them with something that enriches their lives. Additionally, free markets are about rational persuasion and voluntary transaction (if I can’t convince you that my information, services, or products are worth your time and money, then I don’t get your support). I think that philosophy is a great benefit to humanity, to those that get acquainted by it and enrich lives. As such, if I’m ‘market-facing,’ as economists call it, then if I provide a good product (my philosophy), then success will be reflected by my support from voluntary transactions from responsible adults that value what I’m providing. In this case, I desire to occupy a space in the exoteric and mesoteric market space for philosophers (which I’d guess, is not exactly saturated). Contrast this coerced transactions, where a body of persons, assign the worth of somebody’s goods or services, and those goods or services don’t have responsive feedback from the market. Think about the cost of an x-ray or the way a professor is hired. The costs and processes ‘behind the scenes’ aren’t in the open, and the usually the only way things get checked by the public is if something goes terribly wrong (x-ray machine explodes, or professor gets involved in a scandal). However, free-market mechanism directly relates to the product being provided. I will provide some articles on the free market later, but for my present purposes, I think that good philosophy is a great benefit to all, and that it can be defended and promoted in the free market. And this, is basically what my philosophy is about. I’ll provide a bunch of philosophical articles tailor to my audience, which is interested in clarification, simplification, and unity, to their own lives. If you like what you see, you can buy my books later on (you won’t have to buy a $100 book, because the academic superpowers decided that you should add that to your mountain of debt).

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Author: TheCommoner

I am a philosopher that is interested in what makes life worth living, what is worth pursuing, and how we can learn from the past. I believe that good philosophy benefits everyone and that there should be philosophers that present philosophy to those outside of the academy.