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Archive for Thursday 16th May 2002 - The Philosopher's Stone

If you take a course in philosophy today, you learn more about the history of the subject than how to be a philosopher yourself. One thing you are never told is the real purpose of it all, which is to discover the Philosopher's Stone.

They say about this stone that it is the most precious thing you can imagine. If you find it, your life is made rich and glorious. It is so powerful it can light up the whole world. But the funny thing is that no one seems to want it. So it lies neglected in the filth at the bottom of the gutter.

It is not like a stone you can kick. It is the philosopher's term for something that lies neglected in everyone's mind. Another name for it is 'nous' or 'understanding'. It is also called Truth. Philosophy means love of truth. That is the proper dedication of philosophers, and that is why they are supposed to look for the Stone.

But many students of philosophy do not know that. Like the rest of us, they ignore the Stone and run after fads and notions that seem fashionable at the time. This leads them into doubts and worries, and they become miserable or angry. That is not the fault of philosophy but of its misuse. Any kind of knowledge is better than ignorance, but only one kind has lasting value, and that is the kind symbolised by the Stone.

Having started on this subject, I had better go on with it next week.

John Michell

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