What is it, pop philosophy? It is making thinking available to anyone interested and curious enough about what’s happening around them. And to do so in a simple, understandable, sexy fashion.
Important thoughts can be communicated clearly. And it is a tendency, probably nurtured by fear of failing to communicate, to mask them in complicated, convoluted language. Learning to rid oneself of that tendency, therefore conquering that fear, is part of the task of learning to think.
There are of course the intricacies thought can make with thought, but that is philosophy for specialists and professionals. And not everyone needs philosophy in order to become a specialist or a professional philosopher. Most need philosophy to illuminate, to provoke, to awaken. And one could say therefore that the philosophical calling may be much broader than the academy.
The activity of reason exercising its faculties to the highest –the mind like an athlete becoming agile and learning to fly high all the time– is something which has happened in the academy for the past four hundred years. And it is essential for society and human consciousness. It generates the avant-garde thoughts that will eventually be part of popular knowledge, vox populi, the common sense of the #hoiPolloi. (When Aristotle first carved the concept of potentiality he never imagined there would come an age where the average man would not only know what “potential” meant, but that the concept would be part of their everyday vocabulary and worldview).
But the sophisticated, sometimes even barroque, esoteric labyrinths that the language of philosophers can produce is academic philosophy, not philosophy for the everyday human. Eventually out of those labyrinths of thought (impenetrable to the common person and even to the intelligent and curious layman), there will come new thoughts that can be said clearly and made available to the average man or woman. Pop philosophy tries to speak them and articulate them clearly; it tries to use them in order to think popular experience. Popular experience that is every day more and more complex, due to the very media that make this extension of thought possible and accessible.
#JasonSilva, talking about how technology is changing the future, says we need not get stuck on the state or experience that technology makes possible, but bring the whole human scene to a higher level, raise the existential stakes, intensify subjectivity. Pop philosophy is predicated on the conviction that one way to do that is by making thought available to the general public. But not thought as the product of thinking, not the dogmas or concepts that have been sedimented in the academy, but thought as an exercise and a discipline, as a way of perception. A form of life.
Make thought available, therefore, and make it available to the populace, to the hoi polloi; not, however, in the [paradoxically] popular derogatory sense of “plebs” or “the herd”, but in the strict sense of: “the majority”. The Many. We have to raise the stakes for everyone; not so we can enjoy it together and rejoice in our privilege, but so we can raise the standards for the majority; make the human race grow rather than keep the experience of thought greedily to ourselves, the few, the privileged minority.
Pop philosophy is a democratic venture, and in this it is allied to the hacker mentality, that wants to bring down the greed and the power-rage that is destroying the planet. (#Anonymous and #Assange and all those who want to make us all think because they believe we all have to have the opportunity, and feel the need to think, are allies). And now the airwaves are virtual and communication is available to all, philosophy can move (back) out of the classroom and into this new cybernetic forum that is the internet, to provide the opportunity for thought virtually anywhere.
Just like the invention of fire-making was a literal potentiation of our digestive system, extending the stomach outside our bodies and increasing its digestive powers exponentially, #Cyberspace is now extending the mind, redefining the boundaries of human experience and consciousness. And pop philosophy responds to that, and seeks to work on generating the conditions for a global awakening to the power of consciousness and thinking.
Pop philosophy, the project of thinking with the many, has to be a global business. It needs to catch fire like any initiative attuned to the future has done so every time, accelerating its own evolution. It must be able to enter into the mind of the people like a contagious virus that enters the organism imperceptibly, even joyfully, but once its there it is a transformative fever that lights the body up.
Pop philosophy must be sexy.