Oct 02 2008

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Philosophizing Nature

Posted at 10:45 am under Blog Post

Yesterday my wife reminded me that I’m weird.  I don’t hold down a full time job.  I wander alone for days on end, grooving with the wild.  I sit around pondering the universe, then write down my thoughts.  Okay, I admit it – I’m an odd duck, and not just because I have no fashion sense and listen to avant-garde jazz.  Lately I’ve been spending a great deal of time philosophizing about nature and it’s only widening the chasm between mainstream society and me.  So I make it a point to do something normal each day, like surfing the net or watching TV.  That helps.

Immediately following my four-day retreat in the Adirondacks, I started revising a new set of philosophical essays that I committed to paper last spring.  Three weeks later, I’m still at it.  But I should finish this particular draft soon.  At the risk of mislabeling the work, I’d call it existential naturalism, even though I’m not really an existentialist or a naturalist.  I don’t particularly care for “-ists” and “-isms,” and that makes describing my worldview somewhat problematical.  But this label gives the reader some idea what my work is about, anyhow.

No philosophy worth taking seriously can be adequately expressed in bumper stickers.  That people even try is a tribute more to their sense of humor than to their wisdom.  But simplicity is a virtue in this day and age, so here are a few statements that characterize my worldview:  1) The mysteries of the natural world (the only world there is) are greater than our ability to comprehend them.  2) God, nature (in general) and human nature (in particular) are inexorably entwined.  3) I, Homo sapiens, am entirely responsible for what I make of myself and the world.

Do you see any glaring contradictions here?  I certainly hope so, otherwise I’m just wasting my time.  To be useful at all, philosophizing has to bring fresh ideas to the table.  Everything else is mere apology for the same old, worn-out worldviews passed down through the centuries, or meaningless blather.  I’d rather be thought of as a walking contradiction than someone who has nothing new to say.

The word “nature” means a thousand different things to a thousand different people.  Like the words “truth” and “love,” it defies easy definition, and that’s probably why philosophers find it so attractive.  But I am certain that such a thing as nature exists when I go for a long walk in the woods.  Only when faced with the countless abstractions of human society – things like dollar bills, contracts and “-isms” – do I start having my doubts.

As soon as I’ve completed this draft, I’ll disappear into the woods for a while.  I’ll wander about aimlessly, grooving on the wild and clearing my head.  Then brand new ideas will crop up.  It’s a vicious circle to be sure.  This is what makes me weird, I guess.  I keep going back to the well, even though this constant re-visioning only complicates matters.  Good thing my wife loves me for it, otherwise I’d be in deep trouble.  There’s not much call for woods wanderers in either the personal ads or the employment pages these days.

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Philosophizing Nature”

  1. Deedee Burnsideon 04 Oct 2008 at 7:34 am 1

    Nice weird!

  2. Deb Wingerton 08 Oct 2008 at 1:26 pm 2

    If more people were weird like we are alleged to be, the world would be a much better place. All of those “financial wizards” wouldn’t have found time for all of the mischief they caused if they had spent more time on walkabouts and less on gambling games with other people’s money.

  3. Walton 08 Oct 2008 at 4:28 pm 3

    More walkabouts, less money games. Sounds good to me.

  4. Phil Ruddon 12 Oct 2008 at 8:46 pm 4

    1) The mysteries of the natural world (the only world there is) are greater than our ability to comprehend them. 2) God, nature (in general) and human nature (in particular) are inexorably entwined. 3) I, Homo sapiens, am entirely responsible for what I make of myself and the world.

    Those make awful bumper stickers Walt. Let me try to rephrase them for you:

    1) I know I don’t know, so back da f-up
    2) Get off my god-damn lawn
    3) For every animal you don’t eat, I eat three

    There you go, no charge.


  5. Walton 13 Oct 2008 at 7:33 am 5

    Phil, your bumper sticker versions of my worldview are as good as any. Thanks for providing them free of charge.

  6. Phil Ruddon 13 Oct 2008 at 5:50 pm 6

    Walt, let me summarize all three bumper stickers into one:

    Get your god-damn world view off my lawn.

  7. Phil Ruddon 13 Oct 2008 at 5:54 pm 7

    PS. you are now officially distilled. Any former expectations of what Walt was/is/willbe is officially off-topic and subject to further misinterpretations and therefore attributions.

    e.g. “Get Ur GDAM WorldView OFF Me Lawn”
    – Walt McLaughlin, 2008

    Source: wikipedia.org

  8. Walton 14 Oct 2008 at 8:53 am 8

    I don’t think I like being distilled. I feel so… violated.

    PS — Does this mean I should carry a pooper-scooper wherever I go?

  9. corinon 26 Oct 2008 at 10:39 pm 9

    no call for woods wanderers, but wandering in the woods sure makes us all better able to buckle down and do whatever our real work is…nice site.

  10. Walton 27 Oct 2008 at 10:43 am 10

    Good point, corin.