ASPECTS OF CITIZEN PHILOSOPHY
The approach which I have chosen to call citizen philosophy has different facets. This outlook strongly relates to contemporary issues. Confrontation with those problems has gained expression in web articles, published epistles, and my book Pointed Observations (2005). In contrast, several of my earlier books related to the history of religion and one to the history of science. Those books were composed in connection with an atmosphere of library studies at Cambridge, where rich archival sources were available.
This form of philosophy extends to what I have designated as “citizen sociology.” I began using that description in 2004, and qualified it by saying: “Citizen sociology is of amateur status and does not claim to be expertly scientific, but merely to address in a critical spirit pressing matters requiring attention” (Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, 2004, p. ix). There are now too many of those urgent matters needing rectification, mushrooming under inadequate political supervision and contemporary psychological laxity.
Gaining ground in academic sociology is the extension known as sociography, which has been differently defined. Because of the non-academic identity of some literature studied by sociologists, I recently employed the word sociography as an equivalent to “citizen sociology” in a web article on the escalation of crime in Britain via yob activity. See my Citizen sociology and analysis of crime (2008). I do not press any close equation. However, sociography is said by specialists to relate to micro-analyses of societal sub-groups in specific geographical zones.
Citizen sociology does not attempt a macro-theory, as I have expressed such an endeavour in the philosophy of culture. Therefore, I am content with micro-analyses, in terms of citizen sociology, as a complement to citizen philosophy. So my form of sociology could be described as an exercise in sociography, however approximately.
A further aspect of citizen philosophy is the more intricate rationale of interdisciplinary anthropography, which is the description I now confer upon my early exercise in the philosophy of culture during my library phase at Cambridge. That exercise was represented by the book Meaning in Anthropos (1991), composed in 1984, and dedicated to an interdisciplinary ideal of research and expression. The archival resources attendant upon that exercise permit extension into history and prehistory, wherever this might prove useful. Updating has inevitably occurred, and the conceptualism has hopefully improved in my philosophy of culture. See also my bibliography.
My interpretation of anthropography does not coincide with standard dictionary definitions, which converge with the specialist discipline of ethnography and the geographical distribution of human races. The psychological components of humankind are a very open-ended addition to the purely physical characteristics so frequently charted. The geographical distribution of religions, sects, cults, philosophies, and political systems, does add complicating factors to the ethnic dimensions. In my view, the interdisciplinary approach is the most viable for overall analysis and problem-solving.
I have formerly stated that citizen philosophy involves “independence from establishment modes but a simultaneous avoidance of the ‘alternative’ confusion that is now widespread,” a confusion including “superstition, cults, and commercial mysticism.” Commercial mysticism is deceptive, and flourishes disconcertingly in, e.g., “workshops” and superficial literature.
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
Copyright © August 2009 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.