I often ponder over the importance of perspective in one’s life, as I firmly believe that the life philosophy of an individual goes a long way in determining his happiness and even career trajectory, all other things kept on an equal pedestal, which is of course a very lofty form of idealism. Philosophy of an individual often stems from his/her psychology, and they both have tremendous impacts on the direction of a society or a nation. In the cases of a few ornate political leaders or social reformists, such as Stalin/Hitler or Gandhi, it can even directly influence the course of history, linguistics or/and anthropology. The point is, things intertwine in a very complex way, almost undecipherable by an individual using common tools. Chaos Theory states just that, and it is a field of study in mathematics.
(Note: As of May 26, 2011, 94.52% of all articles in Wikipedia lead eventually to the article: Philosophy).
The study of philosophy has undergone a great transformation in the past few centuries. Its definition was very broad in the Greek/Roman era, encompassing a way-of-life of an individual, but of late it is somehow confined to elite academic circles or narrow groups and the impression in general, is of an esoteric field of study not very beneficial to the day-to-day of an individual. I know, it’s a very gross generalization, but it holds true in the modern generation-Y context.
(Y.O.L.O kids can even give a middle finger salute whenever this topic is raised. Hell, life is too short already and to form a personal philosophy! To hell with ya! And the soul of a Plato or Cato might twitch here and there in some parallel universe. Sigh! )
There are many schools of philosophy, and while many failed to withstand the test of time, a few were able to meet the tipping point towards the positive side. These schools of thought developed due to the different life perspectives of their founders/teachers, slightly varying approach to the same basic problems, and assessment of themselves and their surroundings through different lenses and shades of gray. So, the next time you are plagued by insomnia while you believe you’re thinking some random shit, your brain is actually sifting through huge mountains of information stored up in your brain to formulate your very own version of truth. A communist, robber, entrepreneur and a priest: all have their own version of truths. (This assuming that one acts rationally, which we know is not true. But, we’ll save it for another day!)
To realize that the problems you’re facing are not new, and countless other people faced and tackled them one way or the other opens up a novel way of reasoning and the path suddenly seems less obscure after getting access to a treasure trove of information passed on by knowledgeable men from tunnels of the past. Seems legit, but this not how we normally operate. Being irrational?
The ancient schools of thought remain very relevant up-to this day. If you’re always craving for that Subway or vying for that hot chick, you are likely a fan of Epicurean-ism. If you believe in remaining calm and composed in the face of ups-and-downs, you might be a Stoic. If you often think about the pointlessness of human existence, you should know more about Nihilism. And if you firmly believe that you’re the writer of your own destiny, Existentialism might be your cup of cake!
The possibilities are endless. The implicit assumption is that once we’ve gone past the first level of Maslow’s pyramid, we humans tend to search for the absolute truth. Sadly, it does not seem to exist. But knowing the different versions of truth aids in making an informed decision, and that is what it’s all about. Perhaps.
Posted by: Rohit Gupta
- Philosophy, Debate, and Dialog: Can Philosophy Be Debated? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- The History of Philosophy, from 600 B.C.E. to 1935, Visualized in Two Massive, 44-Foot High Diagrams (openculture.com)
- (Pre-Socratic) Philosophy is Dead (jonathanfvk.wordpress.com)
- It’s All About Me (theinfiniteprinciple.wordpress.com)