2nd Order Philosophy

Rongqing Dai


Human civilization is now suffering the widespread political and economic crises all over the world due to the collective confusion caused by various extreme worldviews, extreme life views, and extreme religious views. With the ever stronger capacity to cultivate nature, to produce goods, to fend off the beasts and catastrophes, and to do many wonders of dreams, we humans as a whole are not living a less stressful but an ever increasingly stressful life. We are trying to do our best based on our knowledge; however, while we see the world in a straight-line fashion, the world often turns around in a paradoxical way; when ancient dreams come true, their potential negative social impacts could also become true.

The Challenge

When facing the challenges brought forth by the contemporary scientific and industrial development which is nonlinear or paradoxical in nature, our mainstream social philosophy has still been basically following the straight linear ways of thinking, based on simple concepts; in the meantime, the professional community of philosophy has turned to be a closed ivory tower operated apart from the open society reality, far from the ideal guardian role that Plato conceived for professional philosophers.

Consequently, the world as a whole does not have the necessary philosophical vocabulary or methodology to help understand the conflicting logic behind the ongoing or imminent cultural, economic, and political crises. It seems to have become a commonly accepted idea that it is no longer the responsibility of the professional community of philosophers to propose remedial solutions or to offer root cause analyses for all kinds of social crises. As a matter of fact, that community even has trouble to figure out the root cause behind the century’s long crisis within its own discipline, and thus has failed to forcefully defend its own survival right after being announced dead repeatedly by renowned figures from the disciplines of philosophy and science. Therefore, the development of the mainstream philosophy, including the diagnosis of the root cause for the crisis in the professional discipline of philosophy, becomes the responsibility of the open society.

2nd Order Philosophy[i]

The term “2nd order” is borrowed from math, as used for the orders in the expansion of Taylor series. In its current philosophical context, the term “2nd order” refers to the need of thinking one step further than the traditional mainstream philosophy. For example, when we attempt to identify the social masks, we are doing the zeroth order way of thinking, when we start to speculate that people proactively put on social masks for various purposes, we step into the territory of 1st order way of thinking, and when we start to examine the social force behind the action of putting on social masks, then we are in the business of 2nd order way of thinking.

The Idea about a Future Development That Needs Support

Unlike a scientific theory that could invent miracles for the world with the involvement of a few scientists, philosophy needs the involvement of the public to benefit the world. Therefore, I am proposing to all who are interested to work together to form a philosophy school for the 2nd Order Philosophy. This school would not require any specific pre-educational background or any upper limit of age. Its only admission requirement would be the graduation from high school. This is required to avoid any confliction with the existing education system. College students are not restricted since they can make their own choice already and their attendance would not be restricted by any education board of the government.


About Rongqing Dai, Ph.D.

Rongqing Dai is an author who comes from a science and engineering background with a Ph.D. from McGill University. For the past decade, he has been devoted to philosophically- bent fiction and nonfiction writing to explore the dynamic logic behind the cultural, economic, and political happenings around the world. Currently he is transitioning from his science and engineering background to a writing career in philosophically-bent literature.

[i] Dai, Rongqing. 2018. A late call for the 2nd  order philosophy, available at: https://murongqingcao.wordpress.com/2018/11/06/a-late-call-for-the-2nd-order-philosophy/

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