Do readers make philosophers?

“He’s always asking, ‘Why do you read so much?'” she told me, exasperated. A couple days ago, I met up with an old friend who complained that her partner constantly teased her about reading so much. He didn’t believe in the benefits of reading; he believed it was a way people talked in abstraction and acted intellectual.

“He doesn’t understand what I get out of a book that I can’t get in real life. You know, he’s French” she dismissed, rolling her eyes.

I thought it was absurd at first. But perhaps he’s onto something.

My mother often jokes out of exasperation that I’ve become quite the psychologist nowadays. I often lure her true opinion out into the open so that I can address her biases and challenge her generalizations and preconceptions. It works for the most part but sometimes we accept that we just can’t agree.

At the same time, I understand where they’re coming from. Answers to philosophical questions feel right and wrong at the same time. I rationalize from a perspective that everyone has an emotional motive to make the decisions they make. I reframe things from an unfamiliar point-of-view that all problems are interpersonal problems, that people should take responsibility for their part and leave the rest up to others. But it just seems both too simple and too abstract for people to grasp. The frustration from my end is all too familiar.

How can philosophy be taught and learned coherently in all its abstraction and transcendence to the layperson?


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