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Mainstream philosophical schools of thought Mainstream philosophical schools of thought
by Joseph Gatt
2020-08-27 08:25:12
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We all have an outlook on life. We are all guided by certain principles, a certain way of viewing life. We all approach life a certain way.

So here are the main “schools of thought” or the main frameworks of mind most people around the world tend to belong to.

Realism: In philosophy, this simply means accepting the realities of life the way they are, without putting too much value judgment on the way things in life work.

Realism basically means describing the world as it is, using as little emotion as possible, and accepting most facts, events, be they disasters or moments of joy as “normal” and “a fact of life.”

phio001_400Romanticism: This school of thought tends to view life as “beautiful” and tends to aim at feeling positive emotions, almost romantic emotions about all of life's facts and events.

This school of thought really believes that you can teach love, and that you can solve the world's problems by approaching them with positive emotions.

*Note: tried that with the Korean Nazi movement when detained and tortured at Camp 44, did not work. 

Agonism: “Agonism” means something like “the worship of war and violence.” This school of thought believes that no problem can be solved without violence, that no favor can be obtained without violence.

This school of thought believes that human beings (and nature) are “passive” and “indolent” and “useless” and that only through violence and abuse and harassment can human beings become productive and useful. 

Hagiography: This school of thought believes that some individual are “bigger than life” and worship certain scholars, philosophers or elders.

In this school of thought (which is very present in Muslim societies) life is about worshiping great thinkers and great people.

So if you chat with these folks, their philosophy will be influenced by their Mujahedeen grandfather, by the great erudite Imam, or by some great folk poet.

So these philosophers (or individuals) will constantly quote Sidi Abderrahmane or Cheikh el Abassi or Si Moh ou Mohand or some other figure. But, if Yossi Gatt has something important to say, it can only be wrong, especially if it contradicts the elders.

Hedonism: Some call it “materialism” as well these days. Life is about cars and houses and shoes and handbags and bracelets and diamond rings and 3D Smart TVs and Car collections and DVD collections and art collections. And these are the themes that are going to be discussed day in and day out.

So in Hedonist circles, conversation will focus around travel, hotels, restaurants, 5 star hotels, concerts, gourmet food, fashion, accessories.

But don't try to discuss political events or the meaning of life! 

Asceticism: This school of thought is a rejection of “materialism” or “hedonism.”

In this school of thought, anything material or that gives pleasure is rejected. The meaning of life is not material pursuits or recreational pursuits.

In this school of thought, the meaning of life is not discussed either. The meaning of life is simply to “control your impulses” and avoid fun, shopping, socializing, sex, or anything that gives pleasure.

So people in this school of thought will mostly spend hours on end criticizing people and society for material pursuits.

They'll say things like “you think his car impresses me? No it doesn't! His attitude shows no self-control! He behaves like an animal! We humans know how to behave discreetly without being noticed!”

“Existentialism”: I had an existential foster father (may he rest in peace). Here's how to existentialists work: to them, human beings don't exist and are an abstract notion. Society does not exist and is an abstract notion. Emotions don't exist and are an abstract notion.

So you can't define yourself as an individual with a personality, skills, talents, abilities, tastes, likes and dislikes with existentialists. To them those don't exist.

Existentialists tend to believe that the world surrounding us is physical objects with no soul, no emotion, and no clear attributes.

So don't try to explain to them how society works, because to them society is a succession of objects with flesh roaming the ground and that's about it.

“Synthesizing”: There's a school of thought (which I belong to) where you look at the different schools of though, try to look at as many ideas as you can, and “synthesize” or put together the different ideas and see what they have in common and how they differ.

That is in the “synthesis” school of thought you try to listen to a wide range of ideas, including ideas you are comfortable with and ideas you are not comfortable with, and mix different ideas in your train of reasoning.

Philosophical narcissism: 100 years ago I dated this girl. Well-read, she had a ton of brilliant ideas. But she believed in hagiography, and she thought she was a big name in philosophy, perhaps the biggest name out there, and she wanted me (and everyone else) to worship her. Like the good old cat, I “ran away.”

So in this school of thought you are going to have individuals with rather conventional philosophical ideas and ideals, but who are going to push those willing to listen to “be impressed” and “worship me as a philosopher.”

Idealism: This school of thought believes that somewhere over the rainbow there must be a utopia of sorts.

There are two types of idealists.

First type of idealists is those who believe that there exists a utopia on Earth. For some, everything works perfectly in the United States, and every country in the world should copy the United States. For others, everything is perfect in France and we should all do everything like in France. For others, everything was perfect under Stalin's Soviet Union and we should go back to those times.

Second type of idealists: those who want to create a utopia that does not yet exist. What these guys will claim is that if you implement Communism, or Marxism, or the ideas of Milton Friedman or Murray Rothbard or something, life will be heaven on Earth, and eternal bliss.

Nihilism: Finally, there are those who believe that nothing works the way it should.

Nihilists believe that people are stupid, weak, dumb, and life is full of injustice, and that human beings can't quite handle their destiny.

Nihilists will point out all our weaknesses, and to them strong people don't exist.

The problem with these guys: when you try to solve their problems, they tell you to “beat it!” or “scram!” or use other expletives.

How many times has a Nihilist told me “Yossi Gatt, you're a worthless piece of crap. Your brain is empty!”

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