Philosophical unbundling

I am experiencing data overload. The constant state of being plugged in, tuned in, updated. There is a heavily disorientating aspect to the Age of Distraction, as penned by Richard Wurman in ‘Information Anxiety’ and revisited in Nicholas Carr’s ‘cri de couer’ ‘The Shallows’. My tension, fully embodied (Francis, 2018), requiring unbundling beyond this blog-space. For this reason alone, this week, I simply share a coping strategy.

  1. Philosophy.
  2. And my favourite blanket: books by John O’ Donohue, the Irish poet, author and philosopher. Words, wisdoms and thoughtfulness, that calm and penetrate the soul, drawn from influences as diverse as Yeats and Heidegger (Dew of Hermon, 2008).

“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.


Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.


If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”

(O’Donohue, 2008)

I am at peace with the philosophers. I am not alone. Just days ago, The Irish Times, listed ten philosophers to help us through the crisis’ (Humphreys, 2020).

When my head has become so tight I have to physically force a break. And one that requires a more depthful manoeuvre than some reduction or ban of screen time. I fight for a space for my own thoughts and, to reconnect with, to return to a sense of wonder. An indulgence. Possibly. But, arguably, a vital connective thread back to well-being, particularly in a context where the “structures of our understanding are compromised [and] when the taken for granted is taken away” (Farrell & Mahon, 2020). This is not just about reading about what people once thought, or how well they argued. For me, it is means for a healthy reflective distance, creating opportunity for “the application of philosophical knowledge and skills to the pressing problems of personal and social life” (Lachs, 1995).

To me, philosophy can help deconstruct the way you understand things and transport you to new places in your heart, mind and spirit. Lockdown enforced WHF, and the long hours that go with this, has pushed me in to my limit, and away from myself. Work is no longer one narrative, but one dominating life, personal boundaries blurred, and this impacts so deeply upon those sharing my space.

As every week passes, our lives becoming further wedded to online spaces. I envisage like many, this ‘state’ will continue beyond COVID-19. And I grow more resolute in my belief, that business, education, the individual, will all need to attend more urgently to the ‘human’. To become even more mindful to how technology is impacting our being, aware that it may constrain or blind as much as it may help us see, feel, or experience. That we should be prepared to face up to this mindfully, or risk being subsumed by the very technology that keeps us connected, informed and engaged, with others, for work, or with society.

Last year I wrote in Philosophy vs. Google: The Value of Philosophy to Business and Education 4.0 about the need to bring philosophy back in our curricula:

  1. Philosophy is key in supporting the methodological rigour of business research
  2. Different philosophical perspectives/lenses add value
  3. Reliance on science alone is risky
  4. Philosophy promotes critical and logical thinking

I now have a no. 5:
Philosophy can promote mental well-being


SOCRATES: I see, my dear Theaetetus, that Theodorus had a true insight into your nature when he said that you were a philosopher; for wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder. (Plato, Theaetetus 155c-d, tr. Jowett; “wonder” in Aristotle.) Source: roangelo.net

References


Carr, N. (2010) ‘The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember’, W. W. Norton & Company: USA.

Dew of Hermon (2008) ‘The Death of John O’ Donohue’ [online]. Available: https://dewofhermon.blogspot.com/2008/01/death-of-john-odonoghue.html [Accessed 26th May 2020].

O’Donohue, J. (2008) ‘This Is the Time to Be Slow’, From ‘To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings’, Penguin Random House, USA.

Farrell, E. & Mahon, A. (2020) ‘How philosophy can help our mental wellbeing’, Silicon Republic, 8th April 2020 [blog]. Available: https://www.siliconrepublic.com/innovation/philosophy-mental-wellbeing-ucd [Accessed 26th May 2020].

Francis, A. L. (2018) ‘The Embodied Theory of Stress: A Constructionist Perspective on the Experience of Stress’, Review of General Psychology, 22(4), pp. 398–405.

Humphreys, J. (2020) ‘Ten philosophers to help us through the coronavirus crisis’, The Irish Times, 21st May 2020 [online]. Available at: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/ten-philosophers-to-help-us-through-the-coronavirus-crisis-1.4253407 [Accessed 26th May 2020].

Kraut, R. (2008) ‘On Philosophy as a Guide to Well-Being’, Daedalus, 137( 2), 2008, pp. 122–125.

Lachs, J. (1995) ‘The Relevance of Philosophy to Life‘, Vanderbilt University Press, Tennessee, United States.

Wurman R.S. (1989) ‘Information Anxiety’, Doubleday, New York: NY.


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