I have been given an exciting task— to explore the role of the House-Philosopher. The title is rather impressive. One that is quite fun to fling around at a cocktail party. ‘As a House-Philosopher, I…’ But I have quickly realised that as I start unpacking this title I only have a vague ambiguous greyish understanding of what it all means. What is it to be a House-Philosopher? What do we do? How do we actually contribute to anything beyond shouting theoretical categories from the spires of glistening ivory towers? And why is there a need for philosophy in increasingly difficult economic times?
When I think of a House-Philosopher, it immediately conjures up descriptions of Descartes in the royal courts, philosophising with princess Christina of Sweden. Or Socrates tirelessly trodding the dusty streets of Athens with his cluster of followers. They prodded the minds of those who listened. Challenged them to dig deeper, to ask better questions. And I wonder— where does that put the post-modern House-Philosopher— where does that put me?
Searching the Internet, I find a scattering of people with this ambiguous title. One is Google’s own prominent House-Philosopher, Damon Horowitz. I click on a YouTube link and find myself drawn into a conversation of ethics and technology and just how one ought to respond with the tools and influences that are within one’s grasp. And I am struck by just how relevant it all seems. This guy has been able to climb down the ivory tower and deliver an edible bread to the people.
So as I reflect on this new role, I ask myself, how can I bring any bread or nourishment to the work of the Tuke Institute? How can I ask questions that will probe deeply into the essence and the underlying foundations of the Tuke Institute? How can I ask the right kind of questions? I hope that this guest-blog will be a means of exploring just this. And I hope that it can generate feedback and discussion, propelling the monologue into a full-fledged conversation between questioning minds. Perhaps something Socrates would have been quite excited about.