To understand the value of philosophy is to also discover it’s meaning. Philosophy, as a constant, is how one lives life. It is the active force that leads us into every decision. Whether it’s acknowledged or not, every one lives with, and by, a philosophy. Its value is itself in that it provides the principles and knowledge that everyone has obtained and is influenced by. Although this is what philosophy is defined as, the underlying infinitive of the word is to think. Thinkingis unquestionably the most thrilling aspect of being alive, and should be an immensely valuable feature to everyone’s time spent here. Whether it’s the questions we’re constantly asking, the meaning we apply to ourselves, or the opinions we generate, thought surrounds us everyday and is constantly changing.
It’s unknown to us all what the greater significance of being able to think is; are we collectively conscious of each other all the time? Do we have two consciousnesses, one that provides the current intuition we are formulating now and the other connected by a universal energy? Is consciousness an illusion all together in itself? Is there meaning to any of our thoughts? Or are we all just mentally precocious organisms that are constantly tortured with ideas that routinely throw us off from realizing that the mere purpose of living as an animal is to survive?
Valuing philosophy to me, as a process, is what reminds me to maintain unique purpose in my life and to recognize the ultimate truth about my existence, and its limits. The reality that is prevailing for me is equally fascinating and terrifying, but to be reminded of its presence is essential to keeping composure. It’s necessary for me to ask questions often, but to not dwell on what I can’t answer in this form. Life is a unique experience and too many of us live it by forgetting this truth often. We exist somehow amidst the vast complexity of the universe, assembled by elements and between mysterious dimensions. Somehow we thrive on a planet that is small and lonely yet so lush and voluminous; how can this not be absolutely astonishing? Time is continuously pushing forward, never pausing, evolution persisting all the while – and so our existence is limited, accordingly. Even with only so much possible to achieve while we are breathing, we need to continuously push ourselves so that we can experience more than we feel capable of. It’s not morbid to live with the knowledge that dying is inevitable, so I personally try to graciously remind myself of this fact, so that I can more often appreciate the time I’ve been given to exist.
In comparison to this personal mantra I’ve elaborated on, our philosophy class has recently been discussing the idea that humans are the virus of the earth – something prompted by the movie The Matrix (directed by the Wachowski Brothers), and something that has especially caught my attention. Unfortunately, I must admit that as I first contemplated this idea, I tended to agree with this claim almost entirely. As a species, human beings have evolved into a civilization that ultimately desires destroying all pain, while at the same time creating it, and ignoring it. We have mostly eradicated natural selection, we’ve created a society with patterns, morals, general opinions, and rigid laws; we follow leaders we don’t have good reason to trust other than for security, and base our most intimate desires on the general ambitions of others and of those before us – paths that do not fail, or succeed, but merely get us by in life before we are dead – there isn’t such a thing as thinking for ourselves anymore, it’s all a community effort to decide what’s seemingly best for someone. Along with the remark agent Smith makes in the movie about humans not being mammals, but simply viruses, is actually true by definition – at least by the definition we’ve created in our own languages. Biologically we are mammals, but we don’t adapt to the environment like typical mammals do, we spread. We take, destroy, multiply, and focus on the immediate, egotistical self that is the shell of all of us, rather than the one self that is within. We do not want to feel any pain. Our life aspirations are geared toward receiving worldly possessions, and in return we lose purpose as a part of the planet, and forget about our fundamental needs. The natural urge of the present is to lie, cheat and steal. With all this said, it’s hard to say that none of this is true about the established human that’s prominent in today’s world. But again, although this was all my initial reflection on this concept, I still feel a lingering optimism for the world – as much as it may seem civilization, as we know it, could crumble entirely at any given time.
Despite how corrupt our natural world has become, and despite how dishonest the structure of our communities seem sometimes, there’s tiny glimmers of a better part of us all that is revealed at times. Sometimes we have to search for these fleeting traces of good-heartedness, but can make all the difference in a day and even grow into a significant amount of hope. This too connects back to what originally was mentioned; we simply exist, is that not an astonishing experience as is? In spite of so many impurities, human beings are capable of valuable acts such as forgiving, accepting, helping, balancing, understanding, imagining, and changing – whether or not we’ve previously judged that the recipient of our kind deeds deserve them – are all major feats that seem so simple and petty that they could not possibly have a dominating effect on the betterment of another spirit or community.
In my own experience on the earth, I’ve learned to accept feeling numbed by the monotony of everyday life so often that I can certainly guarantee now, with all my power and reinforced by all the knowledge that I’ve acquired, that all of these small actions actually can make all the difference in the life which surrounds us, and we’re a part of. On my worst days, it’s been the smallest efforts and reminders amidst me that have kept me held together for just a little while longer. Even behind the opportunities to have conversations with people I care about, or feeling welcomed in the life of someone else, there’s also always the humblest of things others do that keep me hopeful. No matter how spiritual any of us are, it’s important to realize this universal truth; we are literally all one consciousness that everything exists from. There is this dimension of reality where we are all inseparably one. Separation is merely an illusion – and when we feel love in any form, it has the ability to shatter that illusion. It is important to make life about realizing that we are the universal spirit observing from a particular point of view – (this is actually what is known as enlightenment). We have to make it a point to achieve empathy and compassion with as many others as we can in this time, because in the end, our relationships with others defines who we are – the soul is the reflection of all other souls. We must treat others as we would treat ourselves, and love them accordingly.
To quote philosopher Bertrand Russell in his work ‘The Value of Philosophy’, “Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which is raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom.” Philosophy is not transient; it is evolving and working to its greatest potentials as we make it a real process. The value of its nature is not to find the answers to anything; it is to simply evaluate the questions we are asking, and to discover meanings within those questions, which can alter the lifestyle of those who ask them, in a beneficial way.
We are the products of immense intelligence, lost in a world that is absorbing the expandability of the thoughts created by the average thinker. But there’s hope in myself based on the life I am currently experiencing in this earthly vessel, that there is an empathetic part of us all that can spark a new beginning, on any scale, at any time. We are each a separate viewpoint from the same questions being asked, and that’s why I know deep in myself that there’s so much potential to exist among compassionate beings who equally share the same healthy organic world, and likewise look after it with continuous organization. The value of philosophy is to gain wisdom from the questions we ask. Therefore, it is important to ask questions – not for the answers, but to explore the pristine consciousness that is uncovered when asking the same questions that we all likewise wonder about at one point or another in our lives. We are all breathing the same air, craving the answers to the same uncertainties, all while alive in the same plane of existence as each other – and to me, that is beauty enough in itself.