Aristotle once said, “all human beings by nature desire to understand.” As human beings we are naturally curious. We like to know what is going on around us and why it is, the way it is. Philosophy is a discipline that exercises reason and logic in order to understand reality and answer fundamental questions about life, knowledge, morality and human nature. The Greeks defined philosophy as the “love of wisdom.” These questions derive from examining ones own beliefs and then begin to doubt about their validity. From this doubt, is where questions emerge. A philosopher proposes a series of possible answers to the question and provides arguments to support each one. This process attempts to prove the rationality of the beliefs and tries to discover the truth.
Modern philosophy contains six main branches of thought:
- Metaphysics: The nature of reality and the universe.
- Epistemology: The study of knowledge and how it is acquired.
- Logic: How to develop valid arguments.
- Ethics: The study of right and wrong.
- Politics: The study of government, citizen rights and political obligations.
- Aesthetics: Beauty, art and artistic perception.
How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: Jules Evans
“Take care of our souls.”
Jules Evans shared his story on how philosophy saved his life. When he was in college he began experiencing panic attacks due to substance abuse. Evans became socially anxious. The various substances he had consumed with his friends had terribly damaged the chemical balance in his head. He later on went to visit a therapist who diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety and depression. Evans started researching solutions to his disorders and came across Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There were CBT support groups, which he attended every Thursday evening. From this, he began to understand how to transform his emotions. What he came across to understand was the ABC theory of emotions.
“A” standing for the activated event, meaning something that happens to us.
“B” stands for our beliefs, how we interpret that event.
“C” stands for consequent emotion that we feel through our interpretation.
There will always be a reaction to an action. Sometimes our interpretations are unconscious and automatic. He speaks about that “inner voice” we have that we tend to think is accurate all the time but in reality we never bother to question it. What often causes suffering is our own beliefs. We are our own imprisoners, our own torturers. This is where philosophy comes into play. According to Evans we have to learn to ask questions and stop assuming that our own inner voice is telling the truth. We must learn how to engage it in a rational way.
Do we really have CONTROL over ourselves?
Is it possible for us to choose how to react to things? We are the “slaves of circumstances.” Philosopher Epictetus believed in dividing life into two spheres: those things we don’t have complete control over and those that we do. According to Epictetus, the only thing we have control over is our beliefs. Emotional problems come from two mistakes humans make. Firstly we try to exert complete control over something externally and when we realize we can’t control we often feel frustrated and angry. Sometimes we use something externally as an excuse as to why we are the way we are. Something easy to relate these theories to is, liking someone who does not like you back. I feel everyone must have gone through this at some point in his or her lives. We try every possible thing to make that person like us, we tend to change the way we dress, we often do things for that person or do things to get noticed by them but even though you try every possible thing you don’t get the result you want. It is something out of our control. Looking back you may think how stupid you were to do so many things for someone who didn’t appreciate it, but in reality it is in human nature to want to control everything even though it is impossible.
That is when you realize that there is certain things you can’t control over and you learn to accept it slowly until it stops bothering you and you move on.
My Philosophy for a Happy Life: Sam Berns
Sam Berns is a junior at Foxboro High School in Massachusetts. He was diagnosed with Progeria, a rapid aging disease, at the age of 2. At this TED talk he speaks about how he achieved to become percussion section leader in his high school’s marching band. He also shares his own philosophy to a happy life despite the hardships he faces due to his condition. Sam Berns philosophy for a happy life consists of three aspects:
- Be okay with what you ultimately can’t do, because there is so much you can do.
- Stop focusing on the things you are unable to do and start engaging in things that you are passionate about and you are able to do. Focus all your energy in things that you are capable of doing.
- Surround yourself with people you want to be around with.
- One must surround oneself with people that love you and support you no mater what. Positive people that motivate you to move forward.
- Keep Moving Forward
- Always have something to look forward to. This focuses you in knowing that there is a bright future ahead.
Essential Question Reflection
“The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living”
In class, we were divided into groups of three to examine the meaning of a word in a philosophical manner. My group chose the word pain. As a group we had to question the meaning of pain and also what it is not.
What is Pain?
“Living involves being exposed to pain every second—not necessarily as an insistent reality, but always as a possibility,” said by Arne Vetlessen; who wrote the book “A Philosophy of Pain.”
Even if we try to avoid pain, there will always be the possibility of feeling it. It is unavoidable and unpredictable. But can we control it? In most cases we can.
Have you ever felt pain? Either physical or emotional?
Pain is unpredictable but it is possible, meaning it can happen to anyone.
- Something you can’t touch but feel.
- Something that is manifested differently for each person.
- Affects people surrounding you.
- Pain is unpredictable.
- It could be used as a weapon.
- Can be emotional, physical even mental.
- Inflicted during torture.
- Suffered in disease.
- Anxiety, grief, depression.
- Pain brought by violence.
Pain Is Not:
- Prevents you from moving forward.