Just something that occurred to me moments ago…
To woo, fuck and procreate are some of the most quintessentially human traits. Yet many of our greatest philosophers, saints, and sages have been celibate and childless. Some of them, at least theoretically, by choice; others were clearly jerks (*cough* Nietzsche*cough*) who cloaked their relationship failures in a thin facade of high-mindedness.
Why, throughout history, has humanity placed such a high value on the insights of people who have essentially failed at being fully human? People who were in the process of being actively weeded out by evolution? Why do we take our morality from men who lacked a pragmatic sexual education? Philosophy from men who never managed a household?
Obviously there are plenty of exceptions, it's just strange that we view lifelong abstinance as some kind of badge of honor rather than a mark of dubious sanity and/or judgement.
I see no reason to accept the premise that sex and procreation are quintessentially human traits, given that these activities are performed by nearly every creature on the planet. On the contrary, honing one’s powers of reason and abstraction in the pursuit of philosophy – these seem like much more fitting candidates for essential human traits.But suppose we accept the premise anyway. There still doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to believe that sex and domesticity (managing a household, etc.) are necessary prerequisites to doing philosophy, or that these activities have anything at all to do with each other (with the possible exception of philosophy that specifically concerns itself with them). We can probably call to mind any number of normal human beings who neglect to properly manage their household affairs. Are they also failures at life? Or does the life-failure only obtain when the affair mismanagement is congruent with philosophical pursuits?And consider the countless number of young men involved in software development who can’t get laid for the life of them. Also failures? Actually, these people are almost certainly failures at life, but only because they are unable to figure out how to fulfill their sexual urges in spite of a keen desire to do so. This is quite different from the case of someone who willingly abstains from sex in order to focus on higher pursuits like philosophy.
I think your mistaken premise is the notion that philosophers are supposed to be all-knowing wise men. Really, philosophers are just people who apply analysis, skepticism, and reason to fundamental intellectual questions.
Human’s are social animals, and our evolution has been overwhelmingly steered by that for millennia. The second best thing to getting your DNA passed on is getting the vast majority of your DNA passed on by your siblings or your tribe or your race or your species. Men who put their efforts into societally useful pursuits by sublimation are inseparable from the human experience.Thanks to DNA analysis, we have evidence that today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men. Since we have no evidence that birth rates have ever been anything other than 50/50, the assumption is that ~80% of women have procreated, but only 40% of men. Clearly, this strategy worked well enough to make us one of the dominant species on the planet, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that the majority of men who died before procreating were “failures at life”.That said, some philosopher’s *were* real assholes, and one would be wise to take everything anyone says, philosopher or otherwise, with a grain of salt. 😉
Ugh. At least twice I used apostrophes for plurals. And there is no way to delete or edit my comment. And I’ve already managed to procreate, most likely spreading my sloppiness genes to my offspring. *sigh*
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