PHILOSOPHY AND CONFLICT
5.1 . IT seems that every few weeks we hear on the radio or the other media of a new violent conflict that has broken out in some part of the world either between nations or within them. And we very seldom hear that some existing conflict has been resolved; most of them go on and on. The conflicts are the result of differences, often of the most radical sort, between groups of people. These may be differences simply in material interests, or in religion, or in ideology, or in anything else which can make people fight one another. Can philosophy do anything to help resolve these conflicts? They will be resolved, if at all, either by rhetoric, often leading to violence, or by the use of reason. Philosophy contributes to both of these methods; but the second is preferable. There are many obstacles to the settlement of these differences. But one of the main obstacles is bad philosophy. Philosophy well done can help people to understand one another, even if they come from quite different backgrounds and have competing interests. But if done badly it can hinder this, or even make it impossible. I am going to describe various ways in which bad philosophers achieve this barrier to communication, and then I shall say how good philosophers can remedy the trouble.
The first way of doing philosophy badly I can pass over quite quickly. There is a kind of philosophers--perhaps they are in the majority--who do not want to communicate, that is, make themselves understood. Philosophy should be exciting, and I do not want to take away the excitement of doing it. But excitement is like any other kind of pleasure. If you seek the pleasure or the excitement for its own sake, you do not get it. When one listens to or performs in a great piece of music (for example, singing in the performance of Schütz's or Brahms's Requiem), it is the music one wants, not the pleasure. One cannot have that pleasure without that music. The pleasure comes, as Aristotle put it, as a supervenient end ( EN 1174b33). It 'perfects the____________________