Armchair Intellectualism

As one scholar highlighted, philosophy is slowly beginning to enter into the discourse or the broader discussion of international affairs and international relations practitioners and professionals here in the West, given the changes and the transformations to the epistemological and ontological foundations of Anglo-American physical and social theory over the course of the last few decades as a result of rapid advances and evolutions in globalization and technology. In turn, the seeping of philosophy into the discourse and discussion of international affairs and international relations can have a profound impact on the basic functions and operations of international society in the coming years and beyond. 

My journey and trek into philosophy began as soon as I finished graduate school in 2013. One of my two final assignments as a graduate student aside from my thesis was a methodology of research assignment which asked us to lay out a method for an extensive research topic that we would perhaps be interested in completing down the road. The topic I chose was post-9/11 American foreign policy, with a specific focus on the Bush 43 White House and thus the roots of post-9/11 American foreign policy. This was a fitting topic, given that the concentration for my international affairs master’s degree was American foreign policy. That is when I became familiar with monism, a theory which I discussed recently. 

As I explained to the professor, between monism and dualism as the most basic and foundational methods and theories available for research and rational inquiry, I was compelled to choose monism as the epistemological and ontological basis and foundation for my research and inquiry down the road. Him being the cynical and skeptical Swede that he was, he was not convinced, and in the middle of a class presentation at the end of the semester where I presented my idea and my method to the class, he even pushed back, saying that dualism was the correct method. But even though he pushed back, the suggestion that monism would be the right epistemological and ontological basis and foundation for future research and inquiry gave him pause for a while before giving his concluding remarks and ending the presentation. He pondered on it for a while before pushing back and bringing an end to the conversation. The pushback was equivocal and shaky, and the conversation shook him out of his armchair intellectualism for a short while.  

When I came across monism as an epistemological and ontological basis or foundation for research and rational inquiry during my final days in graduate school, I was unaware of the great minds who were once proponents and representatives of the theory. It did not cross my mind at that time that I would soon be introduced to Hegel, Marx, Engels, Spinoza, Whitehead, and a number of others from the Western tradition, along with the great minds and thinkers of the Middle East and Asia who were once proponents of the theory. In a sense, it was the future that determined the choice or the tradeoff as a graduate student who would later turn into an independent researcher who in turn would unconsciously and subconsciously advance a theory which a number of great minds in the past were espousing. 

But what all of this demonstrates now is perhaps two things above all else. For one, there is the impact which the deteriorating quality of education in the United States is having on the broader functions and operations of international society. It is worth noting that America ranks 50th among all countries in math and science. And second, there is the impact that the closing and the shutdown of philosophy in the American public sphere is having on the world. When the monistic research and inquiry thus far is seen relative and in contrast to the impact of the deteriorating quality of education in the United States and the impact of the closing and shutdown of philosophy in the public sphere, not only does it evince the breadth and size of the intellectual deficit and gap that needs to be bridged in the public sphere, but it also demonstrates the discrepancy between where the priority of our leaders should be and where the priority of our leaders actually is. This in turn can be the cause or the impetus for both “great potential but also great danger” on the part of international society in the coming years. 

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