Philosophy and the Family Life

Many philosophers have been single or at least childless and presumably that is the way of a philosopher. Looking back at my major professors the only one with a family of his own was the theology professor, and as any philosopher will tell you theology is not philosophy. Some of them had spouses though. I suppose a true philosopher should be so busy thinking that they don’t have time to truly care for another being, or at least that’s the argument. I don’t know if I agree though that philosophers, by nature, make unsuitable life partners. I guess it just depends. If you find a partner who is just as lost up in their own head as you are that could be tricky, and if you have a partner who is trying to constantly ground you that could be annoying but I think the trick is to find someone who doesn’t mind a little craziness.

Take Socrates for example, the first known western philosopher, was married with children and he was never able to write anything down while his pupil Plato who never married got plenty written down. Let’s remember though, correlation is not causation. Aristotle, who came to be known as THE philosopher, was married and even named his great work Nicomachean Ethics after his son.

Yet still, I feel that there is something to the belief. Having a family is great but surely it must take away from the ability to sit around and just study or think. Then again though so would a job or hobby.
There was a study done at Stanford University that said multitasking is impossible. I mean of course not completely impossible, my experience as a nanny and a homemaker confirms that, but when we multitask our concentration is split in two or more directions so of course it is hindered. If Susan were to prepare one meal while also instructing her son on how to set the cable box, as apposed to preparing that same meal in solitude, of course it will be better the second time. I’m sure Susan is fully capable of cooking well in both instances but without distraction she will have been able to pay closer attention to measurement and time, that’s a fact.
The way I see it a philosopher is anyone who has a good time with their own thoughts, and if this is in fact what you love then you will find a way to do it. Putting so many perimeters on what a philosopher can and cannot do is a mistake, it scares people away from the field. It makes those investigating philosophy see philosophers as arrogant or delusional, and that’s a mistake because while it can be true it isn’t necessarily true. It is entirely possible to be a pragmatic philosopher.

Saying that the universal “philosopher” is a bad partner or parent is a logical falisy. Of course their is truth in it, perhaps people with philosophical minds tend to have a more difficult time with these things because they tend to be hedonistic, perhaps, but there are plenty of exceptions.

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