WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8657

Date uploaded in London – – – –10 SEPTEMBER 2020   

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Lifestyle induced problems

Many serious modern health problems are related to lifestyle: heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc. 
Our economic problems are due to lifestyle: the acquisitive society trying to live beyond its means where everyone tries to emulate the lifestyle of the top 1%, leading to mindless consumerism promoted by senseless advertising and aggressive marketing. 
Our environmental problems are due to lifestyle choices: high-energy consuming patterns, high waste generating products and processes, obsolescence built into products, etc

 Lifestyle is precisely the practical statement of a philosophy! 

If these problems are to be solved we have to change our lifestyle! That means we have to adopt a different philosophy! One philosophy solves multiple issues!

Understanding V Action

This is indeed an irony. Issues affecting whole societies can be tackled only on the basis of some broad parameters, a greater vision which only a philosophy can provide. Yet that is what is impossible to arrive at in modern societies. For a philosophy to emerge, you need a vision across narrow academic disciplines- which are arbitrary human divisions. The same person is consumer, voter, patient, priest, neighbour, lover, parent etc. Our academics will treat each as a separate category !

 Our economic problems- such as growing poverty and inequality in spite of the nominal growth, the prevalence of hunger etc are precisely due to political causes, decisions. Our environmental problems are due to our economics and lifestyles. Behind both is a lack of philosophical perception- lack of understanding of fundamentals which cut across disciplines.  

 Return to Larger vision

 Lord  J.M.Keynes, greatest economist of the last century observed: 

The master economist must posses a rare combination of gifts. He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher…. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man’s nature or his institutions must be entirely outside his regard.”

[Quoted in ‘Doughnut Economics’.2017 p.288-9] 

 That is, an economic problem cannot be solved by purely economic means, or within the discipline of economics!  Nor does the solution lie within strict economic limits. Yet it is impossible today to have a total approach  as the leading Universities like Harvard and London School of Economics do not accept such a philosophy! And they are the ones turning out economists by the truck load! And the economists are too arrogant to listen to others!

Plato is right!

Here we use ‘philosophy’ in the original sense: not as a concept or belief, but as the basis of behaviour, showing different results. This is something modern societies are not prepared for, though the number of individuals convinced of the need for change is increasing. This is a problem we face living in urban conurbations, which are not compact, cohesive communities. For example, in many cities in India one is not even able to walk safely on the road; one cannot use the bicycle either. One has to use the car or other motorised transport. For the vast number of commuters, alternative lifestyle is simply no choice! Here, philosophy is felt as a luxury, or elitist stance, though that is the key to the solution.

Philosophy promotes an integrated approach, broad vision. But we have been trained in the methods of analysis and division in the name of objective science in the last two centuries. It seems the modern generation is incapable of philosophical reflection in the true sense. From being rational beings, we are becoming morons!

We may thus say that problems of modern governance or living are problems of lack of appropriate  philosophy! We realise that Plato is right  and relevant in an entirely new way!  

                       ***              Concluded

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