It is now time to turn to an exposition of philosophy itself. All along I have been describing philosophical experiences without situating them in terms of a tradition of philosophy. Indeed, I have not wanted to write theoretically about philosophy but to demonstrate its place in the context of practice; to say that philosophy is not just an abstract activity but, in fact, that it is a practical activity and that it becomes practical in times of disruption. It is very practical in times of change where the habits, conventions and assumptions that had been the bedrock of our way of doing things can no longer be taken for granted but we do not yet have the security and focus of a new way of doing things. In such experiences we are jolted, shaken or shocked out of the complacency of taking our conventions for granted. The emotional disruption is experienced in such a way that we cannot simply get on with the job. We are too disturbed or distracted to get on with the job. Whether we like it or not, our attunement shifts from a preoccupation with getting on with the job to the perplexity, confusion and questioning of our habits and practices of doing things. This is not always a pleasant experience. It can be very frustrating, full of anxiety, uncertainty and selfdoubt. We have called this an experience of “existential detachment.” We become philosophical when we are detached from simply being able to get on with the job. However, such existential detachment is not an end in itself but the condition of opening up new ways of seeing and being. If we follow its path, it does allow for new and exciting possibilities to be opened.
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