In almost any field we have leading figures who may be compared with their counterparts in other countries; however, there is a striking gap in one field: We lack philosophers.
There is a topic I am particularly interested in recently, and I need to go through works of several western authors with diverse intellectual backgrounds. When I read their works and other writings on them, I notice that many of these authors are mentioned as ‘philosophers’.
In recent times as well as in history, France comes at the top of the list in respect of raising ‘philosophers’. When looked up in the online encyclopedia, I saw 54 names under the title, French Philosophers of the 21st Century.
Given the fact that pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, often referred as BHL, is absent in the list, this is quite a selective list.
In this regard, France is rich in previous historical periods, too.
I use the word ‘philosopher’ to refer to a person who has focused on some particuar topics, reached distinctly different -or original- thoughts, and expressed those thoughts within a discipline; an ‘intellectual’ and naturally deserves to be called ‘philosopher’, but he or she is also source of ‘enlightening’ thoughts.
This is my definition.
Is there anyone in our country who fits to my definition?
Nobody comes to my mind (Dücane Cündioğlu is the closest to the definition).
Please let me know if you have a name to suggest.
In our history, there is one man nicknamed ‘philosopher’: Rıza Tevfik Bölükbaşı (1869-1949). However, there are enough reasons to assume that he was named ‘philosopher’ simply because he was interested in philosophy, not because of some philosophical contributions to thought-provoking matters of his time.
What happens in the absence of philosophers and thinkers
If any of you wonder asking himself “Why on earth did this topic come to my mind now?”, I would like to remind him/her that our intellectual barrenness is the very cause of the narrow-mindedness while discussing present-day matters. Everyone talks in our country, but there is hardly anyone around through whose words we could be well-armed to face challenges.
So, in these circumstances, everyone thinks he or she is right in his thougts.
It is quite some time since I stopped seeking people who fit to the definition of ‘philosopher’; what is more, I really find it difficult to see a good number of individuals around who deserve to be called ‘thinkers’ by representing a consistent line of thoughts when approaaching matters.
No doubt we have valuable people who state their thoughts -fortunately we have; but, in the present environment of discussion, but such people too feel the need of acting together with a certain group.
Number of people who reject to get on the bandwagon, insist instead on ‘calling a spade a spade’ is limited indeed.
We lack respect, and we are biased
While pondering upon the topic, two points have emerged spontaneously.
The first of these two points is the question of respect.
In France or in any Western country, people who come up with thoughts and express their views in public are met with respect, regardless of how odd those thoughts may be. People standing in opposite sides in discussions approach one another with respect. “A murrain on you if you object my view” type of approach is not desirable in the West, and people with such an approach are not welcomed.
I don’t think I need to tell how things are in our country in this respect.
People with different views -i.e. people who refuse to get on the bandwagon- are expected to keep quiet; and being different, however that difference may seem insignificant, is met with accusations such as ‘treason’.
No doubt ‘philosophers’ would hardly emerge from such an environment.
The second point is that newspapers, magazines, television channels, expected to be functioning as public stage for different views, but almost exclusively take side under the guidance of politics. These are the places come to mind first when views are sought, but individuals who hold a post in these places owe their positions to being politically preferable.
This is why influence of thoughts is quite insignificant in our country.
You can be sure, among people who feel the need of commenting on my daily writings, there are ones who are much outstanding than those who appear on media professionally.
These individuals are certainly superior in my eyes. . .
One of the burning questions of our country is this barren environment of thought. One way or another, we must overcome this problem.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ]