The Counselor and the Allegory of the Philosopher’s Cave.

I am going to try to bring what I know or how I approach counseling to bear on what I know or what I think of philosophy, in a Kanian hypothetical reality.

 at least, I’m going to try to bring up the situation, and show how philosophy under the effect of logic and rationality might not get us any further into what reality actually is than any other approach.

This is not an argument. This is merely an exercise. It proves nothing. It is just… A story.

Philosopher:

…Nothing arises outside of discourse.

Counselor:

That is an interesting statement. I’m curious why you’ve come in today. Is there Some thing in particular you would like to talk about?

P:

I keep finding that I make arguments about the nature of existence, reality, being and the universe, and my fellow philosophers keep arguing with me.

c:

And that’s an issue with you.

P:

Yes. 

C:

Isn’t that the nature of philosophy? To have arguments and expect that there will be disagreement, and that people will find holes in your argument?

P:

Yes, but that’s not the issue. The other philosophers are not finding holes in my arguments. They simply are not understanding my argument.

C:

That sounds very frustrating.

P:

It is. And I keep writing papers, that have to do with how the argument that I’m being put forth is not being understood, and the philosophers keep arguing back that particular aspects of my argument are not sound. And so then I write another paper about how they’re pointing out particular aspects of the argument that are not sound shows that they are not understanding the whole argument itself. And I keep getting replies about particular aspects of the argument.

C: that sounds rather vague, but it appears like you’re very bothered by this.

P: well, it doesn’t really bother me so much as it just helps me produce more philosophical papers.

C: so let me see if I have this right. On one hand you become frustrated and aggravated because the papers that you’re writing yield rebuttals from other philosophers that point out various points in your argument that are not sound. And yet on the other hand you’re not bothered by this because the rebuttals themselves give you more material and focus to write another paper.

P: I know it sounds ridiculous.

C: it almost sounds like the frustration and aggravation is what allows you to be productive.

P: (laughs) yeah, it sounds pretty funny, but I’m not really frustrated, it doesn’t really bother me.

C: … and yet this is the issue that you’re saying you came in for counseling for.

P: yes.

C: ok. When exactly does this frustration arise?

P: well, it really arises because part of my argument is that I totally agree with the rebuttals.

C: that sounds a little bit odd. Do you think it’s odd?

P: I don’t think it’s odd, but the philosophers that I agree with do not seem to understand what I’m saying or they just completely ignore me when I tell them that I agree with what they’re saying and then add a comment about it.

C: and that makes you feel…

P: that makes me feel unheard. But at the same time I can’t help but feel that the other philosophers are not taking what I’m writing serious.  what aggravates me is that it makes me feel as if the other philosophers discount that I’m having anything significant to say.

C: You’re feeling unheard and discounted

P: yes, but it doesn’t really bother me.

C: have you ever asked the other philosophers if that is their intention?

P: no, I don’t think so. Because I just figure that’s part of the philosophical game.

C: What is the philosophical game?

P: The game is that everyone gets to have their own opinions, their own subjective realities, and they don’t ever have to really consider if what someone else is saying is true.

C; and that’s part of the game..

P: well, it appears that that is what the game is. That philosophers never really take account of themlselves nor bring themselves into the activity of philosophy. It appears as if they’re always withholding themselves for the sake of… I don’t know. It’s as if they’re being purposefully inauthentic.

C: So what you’re saying is The philosophers who respond to your papers appear to be responding in such away that they are not taking what you’re writing seriously and they are not bringing them selves authentically into the conversation with you. Is that right? 

P: I know it sounds lame. But yeah I know that these people who are interacting with me on a philosophical level are genuine people. Some of them I would consider my friends. But it seems like as soon as we get into a philosophical discussion it becomes, I don’t know, something else. It’s like some sort of strange façade appears. It’s almost as though I was interacting with an actual person and then as soon as the word philosophy starts coming up in the conversation that we’re having that suddenly I realize I’m just dealing with a show.

C: A show?

P: yeah. Actually, come to think about it, it reminds me very much like the allegory of the cave.

C: The allegory of the cave. I think that is Plato, right?

P: yeah. Do you know what I’m talking about?

C: I think so. Why don’t you tell me about it.

P: well, it’s just kind of like the allegory of the cave. But in a weird sense. In a weird way.

C: ok.

P: so. The allegory is that there are people sitting in a cave facing its rear wall with the light of the sun shining in from behind them. And there are people behind these people who are chained so they can only face the rear wall. And these people behind them have these puppets or have stick figures and they’re putting them up so that their shadows show on the cave wall. And the idea is that these people who are chained in such a way that they only see the shadows, these people think the shadows is what is real and true.

C: OK. I get it I think I remember that. Go on.

P: Well I think the story goes that one of the people gets unchained and they crawl out of the cave into the light outside of the Cave. And they look around and they see the actual situation. And then the problem comes up when the person who “sees the light” the truth, comes back into the cave and tries to tell the people still chained there about the truth of the situation. Those people think this guy has gone mad and I think they kill him.

C: whoa !

P: yeah.

C: ok. But you said it’s only kind of like the allegory of the cave. You said it was kind of a weird version.

P: yeah. I was just thinking about it when we were talking right now. So, it seems like these other philosophers who are reading my papers feel that they’ve seen the light, and that my ideas are merely like shadows on the cave wall. But actually a little bit more than that, a little more different than that.

C: ok.

P: It’s more like they are only showing me the shadows of them selves. And yet they behave as if they are actually showing them selves standing in the light of the sun .

C: oh wow. That seems like it would be difficult to deal with. I mean, since you feel that these philosophers are not only just colleagues but friends. And yet in engaging with them...

P: my engaging with them through philosophy feels like ..:.well…Like I was dealing with them and then now I’m dealing with of kind of fake part of them.

C: The rebuttals seem fake to you.

P: no. It’s not that the rebuttals seem fake. I know that they are being really thoughtful in their rebuttals. I don’t think they’re being fake. Maybe… it’s more like the content of the rebuttals are loaded with shadows. It’s almost like I deal with them as human beings until our interaction becomes philosophical…

C: and then the content of their rebuttals…

P: yeah… it’s like their shadows.

C: inauthentic.

P: yeah! And I can’t really understand why they would be doing that.

C: it bothers you, it hurts you to think that they would be doing this intentionally.

P: yeah. And actually it makes me feel like I’m being kind of a pussy.

C: in what way?

P: Well, because everyone’s so hard-core. Like, everyone’s got to prove in philosophy to the next guy or the next girl that they got the better idea. Like we’re not really doing philosophy for the sake of knowledge, but we’re doing philosophy for the sake of competition. I am really trying to learn something together, the two of us, find out something new, but it’s more like they are just trying to show me something I don’t know. It’s a different…

C: …you don’t want to be a competitor…

P: well, no, it’s not that I don’t want to be a competitor, because I feel I can hold my own with any philosopher. That’s not really the issue. But I guess, it’s frustrating that there appears to be a disconnect between the person and then their intellectual expression, I guess is maybe how I would put it. It seems like the philosophy they do is supposed to be a representation of that which is disconnected from the actual person, as if that’s what we’re supposed to do. Or, that that’s what they believe they’re supposed to do. But they don’t see it as a belief, they just see it as... That’s just what they do. And they think it’s normal and natural and that’s just how human beings are. 

C: I think I see. And you’re trying to forge genuine relationships, but it seems that that part of you, philosophy, which is, I gather, very valuable and intimate for you…

P: Yes. I don’t see the difference between philosophy and my own being or really anything that I do or involve myself with. It’s all philosophical to me, there is no break. There is no cutting off philosophy into segments or chunks, chopping my self into pieces to sell to someone. I think that’s why I say that there’s nothing underneath.

C: there’s nothing underneath… you?

P: Not that. It is though other philosophers see philosophy is something they do, like going out for dinner, or having a party, or going on vacation; they see it as something very serious, but then somehow it’s something very serious that’s not attached to who they are as people. Or that who they are as people is just a conglomeration of various distinct things that they do. In a way, I guess.

C: We keep coming back to this frustration of inauthenticity. You’re saying that it frustrates you because the people that you’re engaging with around something that is very intimate to you, philosophy, these other people don’t seem to be taking it so intimately. Like maybe for them philosophy is just …friends, but to you it’s more like ….having a lover? 

P: (laughs). Yeah. And that’s a whole philosophical topic on its own. But somehow I feel like if I was to engage philosophically about love, and indeed philosophy means “the love of wisdom”…But if I were to engage along the lines of love philosophically, I’m pretty sure it would just become a dry topic without any true emotion or intimacy. Philosophy. It seems as though with other people philosophy is it just a dry intellectual game. Of keeping ones distance. It’s like philosophers love to just sit back and proclaim a upon the world how the world must be because that’s the way it makes sense to them. But they never bring their soul into it. They never bring their heart with them, with their intellect. 

C: I apologize if this sounds abrupt; but, I would wonder if it appears the same to them of you? 

P: (pause). Innoway I suppose It could. And Innoway yes, this is what we all do in philosophy and, that’s why, you know, we build a skin. We have some skin. Like a callous, like some thick skin, but we also have some skin in the game. 

C: But I think you said that that bothers you. To think of philosophy as a game.

P: yeah. Somewhat often it does yes.

C: And it seems to you that the people, The philosophers .Who are involved with reading your papers and philosophy with you, Are not able to bring themselves into the philosophical interaction with you.

P: But they do, I know that they do. but, like I said, the content, the meaning that they are reflecting in their rebuttals shows me, or it feels like to me, that they didn’t really seriously consider my papers.

C: (laughs) that sounds like a very philosophical conundrum, if I might say!

P: (laughs). Yes. Indeed it is. 

 



xx

Author: landzek

My name is Lance Kair, a philosopher, a counselor and a musician who is being questioned.

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