So What?

So What?

It’s fortunate, or perhaps typical, that I’m interested in philosophy, since it requires little or no topical awareness, and I have little or no topical awareness. Philosophy is there when you don’t know how to proceed. Once you have it figured out, well that’s it.

Is light a physical thing? I put it to you the answer is yes. It has substance, it is observable, it has shape and extension. So what? So what if the answer is yes? What if it were no? If we redefine the concept of a material thing to exclude light particles we would make a nonsense of modern physics. It isn’t obvious from the outset light is a physical entity.

Is space a physical thing? Reputedly. I always thought space was somewhere you put an object. Is space the same as nothing? Is it the same as something? What is empty space? Somewhere in between a black hole and an event. Can you have empty time? I don’t think so. Time is unceasing. It doesn’t make any sense to talk of a reality void of time. If time and space are part of the same process, does eternity entail infinity? Isn’t space what remains when you run out of objects to describe? Isn’t space just a linguistic context for presenting physical phenomena? Is space real, or is it only an idea (a useful one)?

Being philosophical isn’t having an answer, it’s what it is when it’s happening, questioning and investigating, analysing and assessing. Why spend time on it? It has consequences, informs decisions. It doesn’t matter if you forget it, or it becomes irrelevant in the end, at the time it was useful, like a journey. The destination is the important part you might say, well you wouldn’t be there without the journey.

So what now? ‘What have I learned?’ you might ask. What’s the point? The point is whatever it is, philosophy can only help you sharpen it, it won’t provide a point. It’s a critical activity, refining theories, clarifying deep-rooted concepts in our understanding. It’s a foundational subject of academic enquiry. It originated out of and persists as a result of a lack of knowledge about how the world works.

So what?




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