Perspective on Philosophy – Q&A Session
Life itself is a philosophy. There are questions. Living life is intriguingly philosophical. And there are many more questions. We need answers. Questions are complex in nature. No easy way out. There are no simple answers.
Forget about fetching right answers, we are looking at getting some reasonable answers. Not to be the case. As things are building up in such high demand answers are anchored in short supply. It’s like an imposition of spiritual embargo. We are famished souls. We are constantly on the hunt. Single source is never sufficient to satiate our humongous hunger for such profound answers. Also, good sources are drying up fast. We constantly look for multiple enriched sources to quench our unending thirst. We all need a good serve to tease our taste buds and meet our appetite. Hmmm!!! a palatable food for thought for our service… these quintessential philosophical thoughts are indeed thought provoking. The session starts. We need good answers. The space is flooded with myriad questions.
In those early days of our civilization where religion and science had yet to develop as reliable sources for discovering answers to our plethora of questions, it was philosophy that profusely came to our rescue. Those days we had very little options to engage and entertain our mind. It is a strange beast. If we keep feeding our mind whatever it wants, it turns wild and we need to be careful as it quickly goes out of control. Hence it is told to be mindful of things we do and if we are unmindful, it misguides us towards greater wilderness.
Socrates, Greek Philosopher considered as the founder of Western philosophy placed his fingers on the pulse where it matters. The foundation of philosophy is built on the art of questioning. There is a craft. The answers to all our intriguing questions reside in the art of rightfully sequencing the series of questions. This unique method of his questioning continues to be the bedrock of constructing such magnificent philosophical edifices. This is termed as Socrates Method of Questioning, also known as method of Elenchus.
Socrates never wrote down his philosophical thoughts but had a qualitative and extensive dialogue with his prodigy student Plato. This entire body of knowledge on philosophy has been captured in the form of dialogues titled Phaedo. The central idea that Socrates dealt with Plato was that soul is immortal. Also, the dialogues were known to ancient readers as “On the Soul”. Aristotle, student of Plato defined soul as the core essence of living being but differed on the belief that it had a separate existence.
We can go mad if we don’t provide the fodder to feed our mind. It is on a mission. The mind is on the hunt to find the elusive answers to the illusions of life.
What is life?
Religion has its own take. Science has its ways of explanation. These are not always sufficient. Many things are left to be answered. Mind needs answer and the doors cannot be shut, not necessarily the right answers but answers that can keep the monkey mind busy. Philosophy attempts to resolve this constant conundrum of facing the bouts of question and being answerable.
How mind and body function?
Science manages to dissect the body and convincingly explains the matter. We have seen the cell. We have seen the way organs function. We have established the biological and chemical formulas to predict and to perform. But when it comes to life itself and the mystical force behind the magical formation of life we have few answers but so many questions.
Is the divine force in play?
Is the soulful spirit in space?
When it comes to the composition of mind there is this body of grey matters, we keep referring, yet to be fully unearthed. It is no more the case of concern if we don’t mind it doesn’t matter. Not necessarily. In fact it does matter, how our mind operates and how these thoughts sprouts and germinate the way it does to construct our broader perspectives on life. Perspective is such an important aspect of life.
There is consciousness beneath our mind.
There is a soul inside our body.
There are theories.
There is thesis.
There are hypothesis.
According French Philosopher Rene Descartes, “I think therefore I am”. Mind and Body are two different entities. They are distinct in nature. They are connected to each other through the conduit of nature. Body follows the laws of physics and mind has its own terms while connecting with the nature and the body. There is this wonderful physical world we live in and is governed by the laws of physics.
According to Greek Philosopher Plato, the real world is mere representation of ideal world that exists somewhere else. It is termed as Platonic Realism. There is this debate on how our mind acquires knowledge and how the application of knowledge develops the wisdom. Philosophy is defined as love of knowledge and wisdom. How to build a boat is knowledge but how to safely navigate the inclement weather in sea is wisdom. Is knowledge something that is innate to us or do we acquire knowledge through experience?
According to Persian Philosopher Avicenna, mind is “tabula rasa”, it is a blank slate. Everything is acquired through experience. We gain experience through travelling. We gain experience through working. We gain experience through doing things, in fact different things, and sometime the same thing doing it differently. The more we engage. The more we explore. The more is our experience and the more is our knowledge that comes along with the exposure. The wider the lens, the better is the exposure and the bigger the picture we capture.
There are philosophers who are strong proponent of Rationalism and there are philosophers who vouch for Empiricism. There is a clinical divide on the philosophical arguments putforth by two different schools of thought. One spoke of reason and the other spoke of experience. Rationalist believed that knowledge gained independent of the sense experience. Rationalism is driven towards deduction. On the other hand Empiricist believed that knowledge gained primarily through sense experience. Empiricism is driven towards induction.
David Hume (Empiricist), the British Philosopher believed on the idea that experiences are the foundation to arriving at any logical arguments and definitive conclusions.
Gottfried Leibniz (Rationalist), the German Philosopher believed that everything in this universe is governed by a pre-defined divine intervention.
Immanuel Kant, another German Philosopher was not bound by either of these two streams of different thoughts but designed a new stream of thoughts combining both “Rationalism & Empiricism” terming it as Kantianism.
The questions remain on life itself and the way we live our life. There are quintessential questions foundation to our existence and freedom of living. We come and we go. Why do we come, and the way we come at the outset and ultimately where do we go in the end. There is this question on the beginning and end of life. And there are questions of quantifying health, happiness, peace and prosperity in our life. Unfortunately, there is no such instrument to even measure it reasonably. We question the disparity and we question the apathy. Some get it in abundance and others are permanently trapped in paucity. Beyond some preaching and proposition to prove our point in establishing this vast dichotomy of life and attempting to reconcile with the people living around us, we literally have no answers. There is this existential question that has no one answer or right set of answers. It is a process of self-discovery. The journey is on…
What is the real purpose of life?
Is it peace or pleasure?
Is it happiness or harmony?
Is it a perfect blend of peace and happiness?
Or there is no such answer; we are merely grappling in the dark. Ironically light is life.
Epicureanism is another line of philosophical thought where we can live a life of peace and happiness through leading a simple life and moderate living. Hedonism is contrarian idea where pleasure becomes the most important pursuit of humanity. Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes on one’s existence and the freedom and choice one is able to reasonably exercise. We make our own meaning of life. It is about our individuality devoid of stereotypes and labels that gets irrationally attached to us.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a German Philosopher was strong proponent of the idea of Existentialism. On the other hand there is this idea of Idealism, another stream of thought believed that reality is a mental construct and no objects exists without the observer.
Arthur Schopenhauer, another German Philosopher supported the movement of Idealism and Romanticism. Realism states that reality exists independent of perception. Romanticism emphasized about the notional self-awareness.
These are few propositions that broadly attempt to address our intriguing queries on life that keeps us swaying from abstract to concrete.
Philosophy is one that deals with the abstract.
Science takes care of the concrete stuff.
The body is concrete.
The mind is abstract.
Reason is substantially concrete.
Experience is considerably abstract.
There are things that can be objectively analyzed. There are things that can be subjectively analyzed. We keep confirming to the objective points and we keep contesting with the subjective viewpoints.
Philosophy is nothing but a form of perspective and there are myriad perspectives at play and we reform our thoughts when we acquire newer perspectives. There is no end to this session and every end has a new beginning and beginning ends merely to have fresh start…the cycle of life and the circle of universe makes our living on this beautiful planet a circus. It is upto us how do we look at the players playing their parts as signs of serious acts or symbols of enactment of comedy.
Nihar R Pradhan