Wednesday, April 17, 2013
That's not quite the whole of it though. Really, I have to say that I think Mop Philosophy can be defined as little ideas or conversations that can bolster life in small ways. Anything comforting, mentally uplifting, visually beautiful or inspiring that can somehow improve life even in a tiny way has the ability to lead us up the path to The Good Life.
When I first began studying philosophy at University I was fortunate to attend classes with a really bright young fellow who quickly became a friend. His name was Marcus and he was gifted with the sort of intelligence that made studying philosophy easy for him (unlike me he could scrawl out the answers to logic problems without crying!)
I reacted with quite a bit of disappointment when he told me he was dropping out of the program at the end of our second year. He could no longer see the point in studying philosophy, unless it was to discover ways in which to live The Good Life. This, he assured me, could be accomplished by reading Bertrand Russell in the park. In fact he had become convinced that this was the only point to studying philosophy, and his new park-bench method the only method which could come to any kind of graceful thinking.
I don't know what happened to Marcus but I have found myself thinking of him over the years. He was definitely onto something and I know that the memory of that last conversation I had with him led in some way to Mop Philosophy.
For this I have to thank him, I've really enjoyed discussing those non-pressing issues: wardrobe ideas, household organizing and menu planning, these are the small things that can improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
I've been reading some Big Names in philosophy these last weeks, and the interesting thing is that at the end of the day even those brilliant 17th century philosophers like Leibniz felt that the true goal of philosophy was to find ways in which to improve our lives, bit by bit. Then, as now, a major preoccupation was winding around ideas of explaining evil in a world which had been conceived of by an omnipotent God. One of the popular (if dismissive and shallow) ideas that Leibniz left in his writings is that we live in "the best of all possible worlds" yet it was really the metaphysical proofs of God's existence that were his true gifts to us.
So I guess my Mop Philosophy this week has been thinking in small ways about big ideas, and this too I find bolstering. One particular trick I recommend is to read a few pages of something thick and inspiring before embarking on those mundane tasks (like the never-ending mopping). This has the ability to occupy the mind and offset anxiety, and sometimes at the end of the kitchen floor cleaning something new and beautiful might set itself up in the Old Bean where it didn't exist before. That, I guess, is the ultimate goal of Mop Philosophy.