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“A Squabble Of Philosophers”

So says Gregory David Roberts, in his sequel to the brilliant, quasi-autobiographical “Shantaram”, entitled “The Mountain Shadow”.  I love his writing, and I share his love for India, in all its frustrating dichotomy.  I recommend both of his books, but that is not what I want to write about.

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What is a philosopher?  A philosopher is someone who seeks to find order in the chaos of existence, to organize the random, to give meaning to the arbitrary.

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It is inevitable that philosophers will squabble.  Philosophy is, by nature, a fiction.  A fiction that can, by virtue of its cleverness, give solace or guidance to lost souls, but a fiction nonetheless.  The more one simplifies and fictionalizes, the more variations are possible, hence the squabbling.  Metaphor is appealing because we all “get it”, but it is malleable as well.  When people begin to treat metaphor as fact, disputes are inevitable.  Squabbling philosophers can be good natured about it, because they are critical thinkers and aware of the metaphor.  Devotees and adherents to particular philosophies, particularly those which have evolved into religions, tend to take disagreement personally and often respond violently.

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[Photos taken in New Delhi and Rajasthan in 2007].

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