MIRANDA AND HER PHILOSOPHICAL TRIO (Chapter 4)

LETTING OUR BABY-IDEAS GROW

For several days, Miranda continues thinking about the insight she had while contemplating on Bergson’s text. [See Chapter 3]. Bergson’s image of leaves on the water suggested to her that she is living on the surface. She wants to change herself, but she doesn’t know how. Many confused thoughts pass through her mind, and she is eager to share them with Linda and David.

The day of the Philosophical Trio meeting finally arrives, and Miranda is delighted to meet her two Trio partners and to tell them about her insight.

“That’s a powerful bubble,” David remarks. “I can see that it touched you deeply.”

“Yes, it touched me deeply. But what do I do with it? I want to change something in my life – but change what? And how? I have no idea.”

“That’s perfectly fine,” Linda the philosopher smiles. “Your insight was only a first step. It gave you the motivation, the inspiration, and maybe a very general direction. But it didn’t tell you very much, right?”

Miranda hesitates. “It helped me realize that I am living on the surface of my life, and I must change.”

Linda nods. “That’s a precious realization, Miranda, but it’s only one sentence. It’s almost a slogan. If you really want to change, you will need a much fuller understanding.”

“An understanding of what, Linda?”

“Of yourself, of life, of what limits you, of what is meaningful or deep. Your insight was a good starting point – it felt meaningful, but now it’s time to do some philosophical work – to develop your new insight and to give it more substance.”

“But is this something philosophy can do?” David asks. “I thought philosophy is about logical analysis and critical thinking.”

Linda smiles. “This is a common misconception. I have no idea where people got this strange idea.”

“What do you mean?”

“Logical analysis is a very small part of philosophy. The great philosophers – Plato, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and all the others – did much more than that: They constructed complex theories about the big questions of life. They worked to enrich our understanding, not to analyze it. They worked to build complex structures of ideas, not to criticize ideas. That’s what philosophizing is about – making our understanding richer, broader, fuller, deeper.”

“But wouldn’t you say that it’s important to make our ideas precise and clear?”

Linda shrugs. “Sometimes. But on the other hand, when ideas are too precise, they can be small and blind to the complex horizons of life. The big inspiring ideas of the great philosophers are often vague, metaphorical, even poetic. Sometimes a vague idea is more true to reality, more faithful to the richness of life, more full of wisdom than any clear and precise statement.”

David nods. “I can see that: If you are too preoccupied with logic, you might miss the bigger understandings that cannot be expressed precisely. Alright, can we try working in this way on Miranda’s insight?”

Miranda interrupts her silence. “Yes, I’d like that. I want to develop a better understanding of my insight.”

“The word ‘develop’ is a good word here,” Linda replies. “Your insight is still a little baby. We are going to help it grow and develop, just like a baby grows to become a mature adult person.”

“Do you mind, David, if today we talk about me and my insight?”

“Not at all, Miranda. Where do we start?”

 

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