The decline of the philosophic tradition is announced again and again, even appreciated sometimes. ‘It is all about the language of philosophy‘ that has been employed for decades in the philosophical discourse. Stephen W. Hawking summarises the problem from the exalted heaven of Physics above.
Indeed, philosophy appears to face some serious problems concerning its significance. It has become, far away from its Greek roots, simply analysis of language. It has become one out of 8000 ordinary disciplines. Fregmentazing of the mind within the hermetic academies and theoretic niches. As a consequence we call this kind of Philosophy the Science of Philosophy because of its purely theoretic framework. Life itself is missing in that process and, frankly speaking, one gets the impression that a grammatical algorithm under supervision by a trained monkey could operate this kind of philosophy just as well. Inside the closed rooms of the philosophical academies this would not even necessarily be recognised.
In our opinion the fault in the contemporary philosophical traditions is caused not by the revolution in the achievements of science, celebrated as 'the scientific method', and its immense practical success, not even by computer linguistics. Rather, it is caused by the absence of life in contemporary philosophical thinking.
So if the deficiency of the philosophical tradition is caused by the absence of life in it, how do we reintegrate life back there, where philosophical thinking takes place, into the academies? Or is the task to neglect the academic practise at all? The term ‘academy’ derives from the Greek name Heros Akademos, a garden district where Plato gathered with his students and practised the Socratic dialogue.
Nowadays Academies have become Institutes instead. No longer the enchanting gardens where the human mind explored life, but institutes, most of them under public control. Philosophical thinking has become institutionalised and thus alienated from the conditio humana. Hence the provocative remark that calculating machines and trained monkeys could operate modern philosophy, analysing words and their meaning, 'meaning' already defined in a most restricted sense. In our opinion it is a gift to man to seek to understand life in all its expressions, with all his innate human attributes that are inter-related: physical senses, emotions and feelings, the mind and its intellectual faculties, and to reflect upon the human condition with rational methods.
The aim should be to find a method in philosophy that does not fragment one human attribute from another, the mind and the intellect from emotions and feelings, and they from the physicality of human personality. That fragmentation took place, as we know, because of an assumed dichotomy between the 'objective' and the ‘subjective'. The subjective was considered muddled, messy, and confusing. And the objective pure and certain. To have done so was to falsify life from the very start. Academic institutions of course are not to be neglected. It is to them to allow Didactic and thus the storage of knowledge. And still we are looking for a method to connect the static knowledge with the dynamic sensual perception of man.
The idea to think while walking and to walk while thinking is not new at all. Even when Platos Academy was founded people did not only think at the academy. Phaidros suggests to Socrates in Plato's dialogue to walk barefoot down the river, which is the most convenient thing to do anyway. Later they sat down in the shadow of a tree and thought about Eros.
It was Aristotle who cultivated philosophical thinking while walking and thus founded the peripatetic school, which delimits itself vehemently from Plato's academy. The philosophical tradition of the Stoics was named after the famous colonnade in Athens, which was constructed to walk while thinking. Descartes begins his meditations after a long walk in front of the fire place. Albert Camus, after his trips to Tipasa, coined the phrase 'Mediterranean thinking'.
The Peripatetics nowadays move one step further. The aim is to bring back natural and spiritual unity to the human attributes, to relate thought and knowledge with the environment and the human sences and thus enrich the process of thinking. The ideal state would be to perceive and to think the same thing at different times in different environments. For example, instead of sitting in an air-conditioned room thinking about what Heraklit could have meant by saying that everything is in a flux, in a flow, it would be better to walk along a river, to watch the river flow and, provided one knows swimming and the flow is not too strong, jump into the the waters of the river and swim along. The meaning of Heraklit's aphorism would become clearer, even more enjoyable. We do not propagate inductive Empiricism or the negation of all Academies. Our peripatetic excursions are meant to add to the academic method the life-focused method of reflection, enriching academic knowledge and thinking thereby.
Our experience has shown two major advantages of the peripatetic method. Philosophical thinking can become a thrilling and entertaining event, flowing more easily, and what has been thought peripatetically is easier to remember by relating thought to concrete human experiences.