After I had my first epiphany in Thailand, being changed by Buddhist ideas, I thought for a while that philosophy was the key to a good and happy life – that what we really needed to live well was to understand and think about the big questions of life. I see that attitude now as a young man’s naïve enthusiasm. As I read more Hegel, I’m particularly struck by how little guidance there is in there for living well. Living well requires reflection, yes, but above all the kind of reflection that comes out of practice. And I don’t primarily mean the meditation and meditation-like practices to which Yavanayāna Buddhists so often reduce the idea of “practice”, but the likes of therapy, exercise, and the very fact of going through daily life and learning from one’s experience and mistakes.
So what, one may well ask, is the point of philosophy? Continue reading