In the philosophy courses I run, I try to open up the deeper layers of what the great philosophers are about, to expose how their work can, and often has, changed the world and changed the deeper strata of how our culture experiences itself. I try not to present philosophy as something like a crossword puzzle, a take it or leave it pastime which does not affect us. I want for people to feel engaged and passionate enough to carve out their own sense of things. I want people to understand the grounds for the convergence between philosophy and psychotherapy, which approaches as the historical process of philosophy gets ever nearer to the 20th century.
But its swings and roundabouts this! The other side of the seesaw is that philosophy touches those ancient existential questions which give us most agony: our need to believe; our difficulties in tolerating other people who differ from us; our competitiveness and tribalism, in one way and another; our fear of death and what may lie beyond it; our impact as a species on the environment; and so on and so on. And then we become aware of those vast minds who have engaged with all this over the millenia, and it touches on our awakening sense that these guys create a very powerful force field indeed.
And then it becomes intimidating and overwhelming, and then even Heward, as the mediator of that powerful force field, is perceived as somewhat difficult to dialogue with.
Well I just want to say, anyone can take the plunge. Its not a contest, guys, and we can still have fun, even though we know there are elements in it which are still a struggle, and even though it exposes all our varied lopsidednesses! Go for it!