The Daily Logos XV
“People are not commonly disposed, as they are simply not in the appropriate mood, to reflect on the ultimate meaning of reality as such. As a rule, therefore, we should obviously not expect that the philosophical experience and the philosophical quest would be such a common occurrence. ‘How is it with the world as such?’—this is not a question one asks while building a house, while going to court, while taking an exam. We cannot philosophize as long as our interest remains absorbed by the active pursuit of goals, when the ‘lens’ of our soul is focused on a clearly circumscribed sector, on an objective here and now, on things that are presently ‘needed’—and explicitly not on anything else. (In intelligent company one can, of course, readily and always discuss any philosophical ‘problem’ tossed to it from the outside like a question on a quiz show. This is not what I am talking about. Here, I understand the philosophical quest as an existential experienced centered in the core of the human mind, a spontaneous, urgent, inescapable stirring of a person’s innermost life.) More likely than not, therefore, a challenge is required that shakes the common and ‘normal’ attitude dominating—by nature and by right—man’s everyday life; a push is needed, a shock, in order to trigger the question that reaches beyond the sphere of mere material needs, the question as to the meaning of the world and of existence: to trigger the philosophical process.”
-Josef Pieper, In Defense of Philosophy
In his brief but sapient apology for the philosophical quest, Josef Pieper puts forth the reality of philosophy: namely, that it, in itself, does not bring forth any good products, and its pursuit brings no guarantee of improving the world or life. Indeed, Pieper is perhaps best known for his work in promotion of leisure, by which is meant the engagement with good culture and particularly good intellectual culture; for while there may be no tangible efficacy of philosophical endeavors, there is an invaluable effect on the good of the person, which cannot be seen. Unfortunately, despite the unparalleled opportunity for leisure in contemporary society, there is virtually no persistence along its most noble roads, but the mere dabbling of those who feel a curious draw, but quickly become disillusioned with the complexity before them. The push and the shock that Pieper here describes are all too often ignored, and, even more sadly, too often not given at all.