Our What if? essay series encourages you to embark on philosophical adventures more frequently and motivates you to regularly push past the boundaries of conventional thought. To read previous submissions, click here

This open-ended thought experiment is participatory and accessible to everyone.

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Francesca Reece is a procrastinating, flaneuring, London-based student of French and English Literature. The product of pottering, dropout parents in the depths of rural North Wales, she moved to London and then Paris to ‘study’ the art of doing very little. Aspiring beach comber/candle maker/loafer who enjoys spending vast swathes of her life reading, writing, singing, talking.



What if ?

…the idea of writing this piece wasn’t the single most toe-curlingly daunting task I have faced since the last time I decided to rid every last vestige of my bathroom drain of human hair? (To get an idea of just how daunting that task was, I am a student and live in a house full of fellow students who, alongside having varying degrees of disregard for the future wellbeing of our shower, also believe that they are Samson and that their hair is tantamount to their success in life at large.)  What if the towering, capitalised word Philosophy didn’t send me spiraling into a tither of self-doubt and insecurity somewhat akin to the protagonist of every film made for adolescent females between 1980 and the end of time? What if the idea of philosophising inspired within me the sentiments of its root words- philo-sophia: love of knowledge – rather than cold, hard panic and a desire to feign total muteness and slip into a catatonic state in the spirit of self-preservation?

I like to think I’m more than a bunch of seething cells and erratic impulses. I like to think I have a brain and can articulate vaguely complex ideas, emotions and thoughts. I like to think I’m not totally stagnant. I like to think I challenge the world and preconceived ideas of normality and truth on a daily basis. I like to think that I think therefore I am but by the same token would rather run a mile than say that in a manner any other than flip. What if I wasn’t absolutely terrified of claiming to admit to being anything other than about as shallow as a puddle?

What if, like the French, the Anglophone world embraced the idea of philosophy not as the pursuit of intellectuals in polonecks and Greeks in togas but as a human instinct as essential as communicating, or loving, or desiring, or feeling? What if I wasn’t shit-scared of accusations of pretentiousness or worse still- missing the point entirely, and could actually offer up my own ideas to this relatively welcoming and non-judgmental online platform? What if I had been encouraged by the state education system to study philosophy and was thus equipped with the linguistic and technical capability of turning my nebulous, insipid thoughts (God must exist when the sky can be that colour/money doesn’t actually really even exist at all, does it?) into legitimate ‘philosophical’ arguments, which in turn I wouldn’t feel the need to preface with self-deprecating disclaimers and conditions? What if we were all quite happy to admit that actually, we thought quite a lot, about quite a lot?

What if?



Published: December 3rd, 2013

Previous in this series:

JEREMIE DHJAN: Parisian Prophet

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