On Reading and Writing Philosophy -- The Different Ways
Updated: Feb 21
(September 2023 note: I am no longer handicapped. I explained why in this article).
As you may know, the most orthodox way to learn and practice philosophy is through reading. There are and were already philosophers who managed to reach their realizations through both reading the material of other philosophers and, based on that, philosophizing themselves. What people fail to realize, however, is the fact that one can be a good philosopher without the need to read other people's material, even though, of course, it can be very, very useful.
I cannot read any longer, as that could result in paralysis based on my chronic fatigue. Therefore, instead of reading, I seek other ways to philosophize. One way I do so is by using a method I call the "doughnut": simply have an idea you want to contemplate and write on it as much as you can, until you reach an ending that completes the entire piece. I find this method useful other than writing because we should consider that, not all material has to come from other people, be it friends, mentors, or other philosophers.
Those who rely only on reading fail to realize, I believe, that they already have knowledge within them that they can develop through philosophizing.
I used to read a lot as a teenager, and I did so as well when I attended university during high school and beyond. However, I no longer take pride in being such a dedicated reader, simply because I now understand that the production of material doesn't always have to come from predeceasing material. Anyone can philosophize, whether you're a child or a well-experienced professor. All it takes is to doubt, to ask, and to inquire. It is not something that can only be retained through older material; it is a skill, an art.
When people say, in pride, that they have read Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and so on, they might fail to understand that the very same insights that they have read, can also be attained independently, through deep thinking. Reading, therefore, is merely the acquisition of recorded knowledge, knowledge that you can reach on your own if you practice.
One day, when I published a certain article long ago, I was met with an e-mail from a reader who quoted before me the Bhagavad Gita, a very important scripture in Hinduism. Apparently, I have reached the same realization in that article that was already written in that ancient document itself. This is just one example of how reading can lead to the same result.
If it weren't for my chronic fatigue, which can physically paralyze me if I am too exhausted, as it did to me before, I would've gladly resumed my reading and maybe even my academic studies as well. It would've added to my certification as a philosopher to have a degree or two in that field. However, since you must read, and read a lot, in order to even have a chance at being qualified for an academic degree, that is unfortunately a path I cannot take anymore.
What is the point of research in philosophy other than providing evidence for your own argument's credibility? Because that too requires reading, I focus on the personal aspect of philosophizing, an aspect that exists just the same as any other occurrence in existence.
If you wish to further know something beyond my writings, then feel free to do research on your own. I will not risk physical paralysis, even if it's temporary, just to satisfy a requirement others can do on their own without being paralyzed themselves. Any reader of mine should be encouraged to read other sources as well; it is for one's own enrichment.
According to what I read before chronic fatigue became a thing within me — Epictetus, Nietzsche, Laozi, Sun Tzu, Yuval Noah Harari (an Israeli contemporary), and even some recordings of Socrates (as he did not even write) — most of them didn't really use external sources when writing their theories, and yet they are still considered great philosophers.
I too wish to walk their path, despite the absence of academic certification and my lack of reading. I am aware that it may turn some people off from my writings, but that should not deter me from attempting to leave a glorious legacy to the world, as others have done before me!
Some of you may claim, "How come I am able to write so much, despite my fatigue?" Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for that. I guess that it is a good thing that it does not interfere in that department, but it might still be something others claim when they address this particular disability. Call it destiny, call it an exception, call it an "inner calling"—as long as it does not interfere, I will resume philosophizing through writing, as long as I am capable of doing so.