Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

PerakAcademyMay2018

Synopsis

In the best of philosophical tradition, the speaker is not an academic philosopher, and he is not in academia.  He is, however, a philosopher in the sense that he is extremely curious and inquisitive about the vast diversity of human nature, the concern and search for a meaningful and purposeful life, and the varieties of thoughts and experiences and his own reflections on these matters. 

 By profession, he is a lawyer, but in his legal practice he brings with it a certain dose of philosophy.  “I have often been asked how my studies in philosophy have helped me in the practical application of the law and the cut-and thrust world of corporate business. I do not cut or thrust; I practice law with a heavy dose of philosophical persuasion, compassion and detachment.”

 In this sense, the speaker is a philosopher of the workplace, of the marketplace (the agora) and of the community; in this way, the speaker is engaged in public conversations.  It was in the marketplace – the Agora of Athens – that Western philosophy was birthed, whose nurse-maid was Socrates.

 One of the great hallmarks of philosophy is that it is less mindful and respectful of traditions as opposed to Law.  Every philosopher seeks new grounds of ideas of the mind in the mental universe and called it a system, a philosophy, school of thought or “baptized” it with an ‘ism,’ which is a code for “territory” – a territory of the mind.  Therefore, a philosopher is one who has a sense of adventure, exploration and discovery, a miner of thoughts and ideas.  He goes out to “conquer ideas” and stake it an ‘ism’ and then he defends this new found “mental territory” by arguing about it, usually with his fellow philosophers.

 In this lecture, in the speaker’s attempt to answer the questions:  Why do philosophers argue? How do philosophers argue?  What philosophers argue about? and “What is the purpose of philosophy?  The speaker hopes to paint the broad outlines and evoke flashes of what philosophy is, who is a philosopher and what kind of a “creature” we call “philosopher” through examining certain key divisional aspects of philosophy and philosophers in the history of Western philosophy.

 In the history of philosophy, many binary distinctions have been applied: nominalist/realist; empiricist/rationalist/transcendentalist; materialist/idealist.  There are, of course, giants in philosophy such as Kant who straddled the divisions, but these divisions have not been removed.  One of the dualisms which runs deeply through philosophy’s history is that between a view of philosophy which sees its task is to understand the use of concepts and the meaning of words, and a view of philosophy which sees its task is to understand the world and the good life. 

 The speaker contends that it is the business of philosophers to argue, debate and to tease or force out the fundamental truths that Nature continues to guard jealously and to engage in public conversations.   Philosophers like to poke their noses not just at people but also at Nature.

  1. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Dear felicia

    Thanks for the announcement. I’m unable to attend but am happy to see the synopsis. This passage in particular caught my eye:

    “I have often been asked how my studies in philosophy have helped me in the practical application of the law and the cut-and thrust world of corporate business. I do not cut or thrust; I practice law with a heavy dose of philosophical persuasion, compassion and detachment.”

    I wish I could attend. As I understand it, the speaker is a lawyer in the oil-and-gas industry. He must be an excellent philosopher, indeed, to have convinced his clients that the “cut-and-thrust” approach is not strictly necessary.

    In contrast, some of his illustrious predecessors at the same venue — 7 Hale Street — did not shy away from combat. I’m thinking of the Seenivasagam brothers, of course, who occupied the premises in the ’50s and ’60s. (Their immediate neighbour for a time at 5 Hale Street was architect Liew Why Hone, an MCA politician and therefore their sworn opponent.)

    ——

    Other well-known occupants of 7 Hale Street (I’m going back more than a hundred years here so bear with me):

    An accountant who came very early to Ipoh: His first office was on Hugh Low Street. He moved to the Chung Thye Phin building as soon as Chung Thye Phin built it. From that location he served as managing director of the Times of Malaya — this was in Chesney Duncan’s day — and then he gave up that position to John Philips (around the same time as Jack Jennings took over the editorial side from Duncan).

    An ex-Army officer and a future monk who together ran a planter’s agency business: By the standards of the day, the ex-Army officer, a veteran of the Afghan campaign and other fields, was practically a socialist and a traitor to his class; while the future monk’s daughters were ravishing beauties who turned down offers from Hollywood moguls and married very nice men, indeed. (The future monk was also the aforementioned Chesney Duncan’s nephew.)

    An architect who set up shop at 7 Hale after he was unceremoniously ejected from the firm of Stark & Macneill.

    An unpleasant little man who deserves to be remembered only obliquely, and even then only for his unpleasantness.

    ——

    Also very early on Hale Street (though not at 7 Hale) was a hospital for “women of ill-repute”; a number of flophouses for drug addicts; and, surely not least, the premises of the Union Club (a Chinese society that had nothing to do with the labour movement.)

    • Ipoh Remembered says:

      Oh, you’re welcome. Quite apart from its namesake, who was brilliant, Hale Street always fascinated me. In the old days it was divided sharply into a European half and a Chinese half. On both sides there were illustrious occupants I did not have time to list above. I’ll send you a proper PDF for the database (as time allows).

      But while we’re on the subject: I have a vague memory that after it was called “Hale Street,” it was for a short time officially called “Jalan Bandar Raya” — in the late ’70s, perhaps. Do your records and sources say anything about this?

  2. sk says:

    Thanks , Felicia for the announcement. Sorry . Going to miss it. Great meeting you last Saturday ! As per Ipoh Remembered – the legendary ” Felicia “

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