I don’t understand why so many philosophers are depressed; or how the idea of a tortured genius has attached itself so ardently to the idea of philosophy.
Nietzsche’s probably most to blame for this image. But his madness could have been the result of syphilis or some other conditions.
This image of the philosopher as a tortured genius or a madman has made people wary of philosophy.
Luckily most people don’t really know what philosophy is. Most people think it’s something to do with reading lots of difficult books and thinking hard. They have a very indefinite idea of what philosophy is.
Of course philosophy is many things; like what Wittgenstein is trying to say about language and how you can’t just say it is a simple thing philosophy is a set of thought-games (empirical activity, phenomenology, epistemology, metaphysics and so on).
Due to the fact that people don’t really know what philosophy is they are blissfully unaware that they are philosophizing during their deepest and most fulfilling conversations.
For me philosophy is a source of delight.
I love the way that reading what other philosophers have thought makes my own thought life flourish.
For me philosophy is an ever present activity to engage in that doesn’t cause suffering.
A way of thinking other than the normal worries and re-runs of past failures. You know the “Oh, she doesn’t like me!”, “I don’t have enough money!” and of course “My room is a terrible mess and I really ought to clean it!”
The more I delve into philosophy the more wondrous life becomes.
Everyday things that I would normally take for granted, dismiss out of hand as being trivial, and boring because of their familiarity – such as language – become these awesome landscapes that radically change with the slightest shift of perspective.
I think the reason why so many philosophers do get depressed and become miserable isn’t because of the activity itself but because the kind of mind that altruistically philosophizes is the kind of mind that thinks a lot and sometimes those kinds of minds can get stuck in depressive feed-back loops.
That is to say that the depression and the altruistic philosophizing have the same ground. That the one does not cause the other rather they are both caused by the same thing.