The word Philosophy, from the Greek word Philosophia, literally translates to “love of wisdom“.
The dictionary tells us that Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment“. Look closely and you will find that the word “or” is not present in this definition which suggests that, for our purposes here, there are far more people in the world that consider themselves lovers of wisdom than there are those that actually possess it.
Having said that, however, it remains that there are plenty of people around the world that possess one or more of these qualities. Hell, we’ll even grant that there is a decent number of people in possession of varying degrees of all three. Going a step farther, and as it has been with so many other doctrines and dogmas over the course of the history of mankind, being a philosopher… Or a lover of wisdom… Requires practice, over the course of a lifetime, every bit as much as doctors or lawyers or psychiatrists, or any other professional with a license to practice their craft.
The shingle on our wall here at Unwashed Philosophy comes from The School of Hard Knocks.
In deference to our forebears, it is worth taking a moment to provide a little context in order to explain the tone and tenor behind what motivates us to do what we intend to do here. And it only takes a quick study to see that there are legitimately only two types of philosophers; the high-minded, and everybody else. This can be fairly said of every philosopher ever attempting to philosophize about any topic across the entire spectrum of the Human Experience.
The so-called “high-minded philosopher” is the person who spends a lifetime studying the wisdom of others, acquired through real-life hands-on experiences, and then shares with their students and followers what they think about it all, and what everybody else should think about it as well.
The so-called “everybody else” philosopher lives his or her hands-on real-life experience and then, God willing, lives long enough to share what they think they learned along the way with anyone willing to listen and hopefully learn how to do it better for themselves.
Consider a high-level comparison between the forefather of classical Greek philosophy and one of the first, and much better known, Chinese philosophers that lived a hundred years later:
Thales of Miletus is said to have been born sometime around 642 BC. He is considered the father of philosophy and is said to have founded the Milesian School of natural philosophy “in the 6th century BC” according to Google. More or less, this school was primarily focused on nature.
Sun Tzu was born more or less a century after Thales and is best known for his work on “The Art of War” although he was quite a prolific philosopher in his own right. Though certainly not a founding father of philosophy, Tzu is mentioned here, alongside Thales, in order to establish a juxtaposition between the high-minded Greek’s way…sitting around discussing and taking notes on what others have seen and done…and the rest of us- getting our hands dirty and learning as we go.
None of this is to discredit or discount what any of the ancient philosophers accomplished and passed along to others willing to listen. The intention here is to assert that unwashed philosophers… Those without fancy degrees and unwelcome in high-minded societies are every bit as much, if not more so, incredibly insightful and deeply educational on all matters related to the Human Experience.
We shall see soon enough how close we get to achieving our goal.