Saturday, April 24, 2010

To some degree, philosophy has always been a schizophrenic discipline. This is what made me fall in love with it. While there were early claims to a teleological and steady progress towards universal and unconditional conceptions of Truth, there have also always been counter-claims that question the ability to attain such Truths, the value of such Truths, as well as the wisdom of placing such a high valuation on a perfection that is ultimately unattainable.

For example, I always found the problem of personal identity fascinating, until I was told by some philosophers of the cannon, that in order to be a fully legitimate philosophical self, I must be unified and coherent. Yet the self that I am and want to bring to philosophy is not this—it is multifarious, impure, continually in flux and so disjointed that it is often deemed incoherent, even insane by others (and often by me).

In this way, philosophy already limits me to a constant state of fracture, as it prescribes my social identity as pathological and broken. Yet a reason why I keep believing in the discipline, is because philosophy already has within it many of the tools for diagnosing and addressing these problems. Last summer Jacqueline Scott, who teaches at Loyola University, told me that Philosophy had two faces, and I never really understood what she meant until now.

At some point, and in order to demonstrate this promise in philosophy for healing itself and for helping others, I want to examine in the future further the ways in which some in philosophy are using the discipline to theorize about healthier, more meaningful identities. I now begin my own papers with this question in mind: How is this Philosophical view constraining our creation of meaning? How can this view in Philosophy aid us in creating meaningful lives? Yes, I know these questions sound like a New Age advertisement, I know. Yet I have held to this question tightly for personal reasons, and it is helping me come up with better ideas in Philosophy.

But if you asked me now if I want to go through all those years of graduate school, I would probably respond with a "No Thanks," and I am sure that my rational side is the one who demands this, not the fractured, multiple self. Getting my MA first will probably give me a better time frame, and some space to really make up my mind about this field, to re-create healthier meanings, and a healthier life for myself.

This is all to say that I am alright with the way things are right now, fractured or unified, rational or irrational, depending in my identity, depending on the context and on the day. I've led a pretty boring life these past years, with too much silence, and too many books. I just don't want that anymore for me. Substitute teaching high school Spanish classes, while getting my Masters will really help me figure things out. It will also allow me to put all my energy somewhere less selfish than on my own work. I like my life today, and have no regrets anymore, and I realize that it has changed drastically for the better since last summer, when I still did not know that Philosophy had two sides, and that I could keep them both with me. That I could pick and choose in this discipline without letting the counter-arguments bite me, despite the Janus face.