Thursday, September 22, 2016
Week 5 Personal Essay
Chapter 8 of A Philosophy of Walking speaks to the serenity and thoughtfulness of silence, most especially as during a walk through nature. It also describes chatter as that ceaseless, distracting force which keeps us from forming and pondering our own coherent & individualistic thoughts while we are around others.
The author examines chatter, which he goes on to name as "language" or "grammar" as product of social thought, which will always conform to social beliefs and the common standards of what is popular, acceptable, conventional, predictable, or otherwise appropriate among groups of people. He denounces this type of activity, as it prevents us from accessing our inner dialogue, and doesn't allow us to form our own narrative of beliefs and sense, instead following the common order of thought and discussion.
This is largely true; our clarity of thought is best when we are thinking and ruminating on things alone and away from the wider world. But, this does not account for the many benefits that social discussion can bring to our sense of ourselves and other ideas, including personal and philosophical ones. Someone can spend many hours ruminating on his own past actions, or those of others he sees in daily life, or on politics, religious rules, or any other topic. But once someone opens themselves up to different perspectives on an idea or experience, he often finds himself believing in something that makes even more sense than what he previously thought. When we discuss ideas with our peers while keeping an open mind, we are not only able to understand the thought processes and actions of others, but we can often learn to see the sense behind someone else's mode of thought. It is not useless to listen to the talking of others, even if it is somewhat trivial, because it can give us insight into how someone else sees the world, and how that person looks at the same things you do.