As a primarily academic enterprise, contemporary philosophy tends to forget its own origin as a dyad of theory and practice; the philosophical practice leading to theory was as essential as the theory itself – they mutually constituted each other. In addition, there were at least two modes of philosophical practice whose self-conceptions differ from that of academics, both with higher emphasis on practice as opposed to theory: the Stoic and monastic modes.
The delimitation of these modes is not merely a theoretical pursuit, but one with practical import. From demands for academic ‘accountability’ due to financial constraints and a need for interdisciplinarity due to vexing environmental issues such as climate change that cut across disciplinary boundaries, academic philosophers might better adapt to rapidly changing conditions through a recognition of the contingency of current methods – and the possibility of new practices. This recognition lies at the core of the philosophy of Cynicism.
Over the next couple of weeks I hope to sketch out these modes and how they might complement one another in our contemporary milieu.