If I could sum up my opinion of philosophy in one statement it would resemble something like the following:
“Philosophy is one man’s reconciliation of himself to the world.”
First and foremost, philosophy, or better put philosophizing, is not done by committee. One does not gather himself up to the round table for the purpose exchanging ideas until mutual consent is achieved and then proceed to scribble out what is to be the new paradigm for seeing the world. Philosophy is not a conspiracy.
Philosophy rather, is a personal journey which I believe we all take in some measure or another at some point in our lives. That road to the “high country of the mind” as Pirsig would call it. No doubt the language and patterns of thought we use to begin that journey have been handed down to us by those who’ve taken the journey previously, but it does not necessarily stand that ones personal outcome (one’s final reconciliation) will follow a specific pattern (or road if you like metaphors) already attained, already used. Ultimately, whether or not you’re understood will be the testament to whether or not your reconciliation is justified. Justification in this case is merely a rate of assent to believe in your new found vision of things. So if you’re not going to follow Spinoza, or any other great modal of thinking you better make sure you create an air tight case. You’re either, ‘a guy with some interesting ideas’, or ‘the crazy ol’ coot from down yonder in the tin shack.’
(as a side thought, if one cannot take his philosophy to a group of highs-schoolers and/or laymen off the street and explain what you mean by your philosophical views, then how well can you say you understand it yourself.)
Philosophy should not be seen as an attempt to capture some universal essence of humanity such that we all have this one true vision of the world. I find it again, to be a continual/evolutionary notion of reconciliation carried out in conversation. This is not to contradict my earlier statement of committee philosophy, but only state that it is the conversation that we start with. In one manner or another we carry this conversation forward, either as a product of our own re-arrangement, or as a dogma.
Now there are many holes in what I’ve just stated and much to be criticized. This is intentional.