Is It the Philosopher’s Task to Change the World?

Question: “I observed that the phrase ‘changing the world’ is too general or an exaggeration; or it could be a product of a delusion of grandeur based on the illusion that once a person become a philosopher he has the burden of proving it to the public, such as the statement of Archimedes – “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth’. A friend in this technological world suggests that the point is to change the world; he could be right or he could just be too ideal.”

Philosophy has an inherent limitation, which is bounded by the limits of one’s mind. This limit has more to do with how we perceive ourselves, and thus can be compared to a limit in our capability to understand the truth. One can only go beyond this limit by SEEING the truth. While I can speak about this, most philosophers won’t understand what I’m saying because this can’t be understood intellectually. I see that realizing this kind of truth is like taking the last step and overcoming one’s tendency to be dependent upon one’s valuable and philosophical wisdom.

It seems to me, that this is the hardest step for philosophers to get past no matter how much real wisdom they have achieved through personal work. It looks like the ability to garner more wisdom eventually stalls out and then this results because of the great wisdom that the person acquired. The philosopher then is clinging to the wisdom and the wisdom itself becomes the individual’s perceptual reality. There are many ways that a philosopher’s ability to gain more wisdom can stall because there is a tendency for one to become enamored with oneself and latch onto one’s gained intellectual properties. But, I start to see that there is another kind of conceptual stall, which eventually plagues all great philosophers and appears right around the time when they seem to have nearly all the wisdom and answers about understanding themselves and the world around them. The sad part of this, is that this great understanding they worked so hard to gain, eventually becomes the ceiling for them to be able to continue to grow and gain more wisdom.

I start to theorize that the cause for this ceiling is directly related to the receiving of the final understanding of the meaning of life. The philosopher realizes what a great revelation this is, and then what happens next is that he has a great desire to share his wisdom with the rest of the world. So then what he does next is to develop a concept to explain it or a method that can be used by others to achieve the same understanding. The tricky aspect of this is that what has happened is that the philosopher has become identified with his great wisdom by trying to multiply himself in the outside world through his effort to educate others. His life becomes a living concept – what I just wrote should NOT be interpreted as a good thing!

I think it’s very likely that every great sage of the past has gotten stuck here and I can understand why it happens. It’s so tempting to want to share your truth, to help others, and thus why they next try to develop a method or way to bring it to others and use all their energy to spread it around to as many people as possible. But the sad part is that when the sage does this, what happens is that they end up stagnating in their great concept. One who knows about this problem could tell the sage about it, but the funny thing is they won’t be able to see it. They can’t see it in themselves, because they know what they know is truth, they know they received their truth in a genuine way, thus they can’t be wrong. This is the final deception. What I know about it today, is that no concept will ever work, eventually one has to throw away all the concepts and I think the only way one can throw them all away is to realize that: ‘you simply don’t know and can never know’. Give up trying to be great, no technique will ever work, no knowledge or concept will ever last, no concept can fit all situations of reality, no rule can ever be invented nor devised that could possibly match LIFE which works in the realms of having no form and no rules.

So the short answer to your question is this: The philosopher might believe it’s his task to change the world, but if he tries to do it, for sure he will fail.

The most deceptive concepts are the simplest and come from the highest wisdom. Because they are so simple and pure one can easily hoodwink oneself, because life itself gives confirmation for it from all around. When one can easily prove one’s concept, there’s no reason to question it. Thus explained, it is the hole that the philosopher digs himself into and can’t escape from.

Betsy

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