Thoughts on consciousness and philosophy

  • Important note: In the spirit of all good philosophy, I’ve decided to coin a term: since I believe that all good writers are philosophers and that all philosophers strive to write well, I’ve decided to meld the two terms, philosopher and writer, to create a novel uberterm: philositer. From now on, all my favorite writers are philositers, though, sadly, not all my favorite philosophers qualify for the new term. To those of you who are fans of Arrested Development think “analrapist.”

When I write about writing I am really writing about consciousness: and within that I am writing about how my whole conscious history affects my creative endeavors. It seems to me that the more fully I engage every facet of my consciousness the more engagingly I write. But that means accepting the emotional aspect as well—and I wonder if doing so limits my ability to write objectively.

I heard an author talking today about how the writing process for him differs when he is writing non-fiction or fiction. Non-fiction is difficult, he says, but at the end of the day he’s merely tired and satisfied. Conversely, when he’s done with a day of fiction writing, he is exhausted—he has lived his writing. I wonder how philosophers feel at the end of their writing? I can imagine Nietzsche or Wollstonecraft completely spent; I can’t imagine Kant or Heidegger in such a state.

Is the level of detachment from writing related to the level of logical thought? Does the philosopher lose passion (and, possibly, insight?) as he climbs to higher levels of rationality? Does he cease to “live” his writing?

More importantly, does this reflect his engagement with the world or does it affect it? Should he be engaged with the world or does a certain level of detachment mean better conclusions and judgements?

  • Rant: Yes, I wrote judgEments the way it should be spelled. Bloody annoying.

I think this might relate to the type of writing one’s attempting. The close, engaged philositer poses questions without answers and often raises even more. The detached philosopher presents solutions to arguments—and strives to leave no room for questions.

I’ve gone through phases that utilize both approaches, and I’ve realized as I write this that I’m a philositer: my approach is open and engaging; I seek answers but I don’t often try to be the answer. Any time I try to write as philosopher my writing becomes stilted and lacks invention, momentum, or voice—or it takes on the acid tone of the critic. When I write non-fiction I have to write it with my whole consciousness engaged, not just my rational “mind.” Whether doing so limits my ability to write objectively is still an open question. I just know that I can’t write that way without wanting to slit my wrists.

I’m also different than the author I heard today. I’m usually energized after a day of writing fiction, especially if it’s a productive day. I usually have dozens of different ideas and plot twists going through my head while my characters try to exert their independence and ruin my story.


2 thoughts on “Thoughts on consciousness and philosophy

  1. Soren

    You’re probably right, Joan. I’m beating myself with A Short Introduction to English Grammar as I write this. Damn you, Robert Lowth for your Latinophilia!

  2. I think you’re a heck of a philositer.

    small point: But it’s different ‘from’ the author I heard today. I think. None of it’s easy.

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