I have only one disagreement with Ismail Lagardien’s excellent article on old myths (Old myths no longer serve new realities, December 5). The last sentence reads: "Mythologising and philosophising about the world is not enough to change it for the better."

Modern man is so wrapped up in the material world and claiming as much as possible for himself at the expense of others that he does not pause to consider the ultimate realities of life. I suggest that philosophy seeks to answer three questions: where do we (and so life) come from? Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? All religions acknowledge that ultimately the spark of life is incomprehensible in normal terms and so is ascribed to God/the Creator/Whatever.

Science, for all its vaulting claims based on tortuous logic, does no better. The easy scientific answer to the first and last questions is that religious views are neither proved nor disproved.

Why are we here? Do we have any obligations to our fellow travellers, religiously or morally? In small measure, those who are most successful in capturing a vastly disproportionate share of wealth for themselves are beginning to acknowledge that they do have an obligation.

One may easily be cynical about the US. It houses many people of vast fortune but 25% of its population live in relative or real poverty and their plight will worsen — in a country that was founded on Christianity. Its president now seeks to add to the wealth of the few at the cost of the many, while its position as the leading nation is in many respects overtaken by China.

China has a capitalist system in effect, under the control of an autocracy theoretically based on Marxism but in fact based on fear by its leadership group of losing power. Both the US and China are capitalist countries. The difference seems to be that the Chinese are directing their use of power over its wealth to benefit and so placate its population. Marxism/communism and capitalism are no longer relevant terms in discussion — the use of power is.

Accepting the view that man does have an obligation either from rational considerations of societal needs or from a religious standpoint that we are all created one of another, then philosophising is a vital part of changing the world.

Robert Stone

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