How Philosophy Found Me?
I would like to start off by quoting ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. This is very true in my case because I have always loved doing varied things. I’d have a passion, would pursue it for the time being, and then I’d have another passion. This is a cycle that has been going on & on forever.
So taking up philosophy has the same story. No long-term plans behind it, no preparations, no affinity since childhood (at least that’s what I thought). It happened because I wanted to do PG in Psychology, but having done B.Com, I couldn’t pursue it from most colleges, as I wasn’t eligible. So I went on searching for other options. And there it was. I saw philosophy staring up at me. Oh, it was such an intro!
I started studying philosophy with baby steps, and it gradually unfolded before me. I had to give an entrance to opt it as my subject, so I thought of at least getting acquainted with some of the things. But that task wasn’t as easy as it seemed. If you are wondering why, then I’d say, boy that is not a subject and it doesn’t have topics or curriculum. It is an entire process of thinking, all schools of thoughts & beliefs; not of one person but of all those ‘philosophers’ who have ever existed. This, I got to know, was no kid’s play, and not everyone’s forte. It needed real conviction and liking, and that is the key to learn it. The only way to study philosophy is to keep reading, to know as much as u can hold, and still keep pushing yourself for more. It reminds me of what Plato has said – “The beginning is the most important part of the work”.
I started off with previous year paper. The paper pattern was MCQ type, in which there were 70 questions in all. The first 10 were general, and the remaining 60 subject-specific. Those 10 I am telling you, were total lifesavers. Now proceeding to the ‘subject’, I went through every question and all the options, & then detailing every option. My aim was not to see the right answers but to have a reference for topics, and the rest was all upon me. Going through the Classical Indian Schools of Thoughts brought me immense excitement and knowledge. Since I have always wondered how everyone started believing in what they do now, how all of these sects, religions, faiths, cultures, rituals came into being; who propagates them, who is the one responsible for the origination of it all. And then, how did they come up with all of it. What I got to know is, these philosophers, and the religions date back way too long. Not much evidence is available to us to ascertain exactly how and what they came up with, but we do have their followers and some spiritual texts to guide us through our ways if that’s what we are looking for.
There sure as hell isn’t just one philosopher or just one type of philosophy. The more the people, the more the number of philosophies. Now, if you look at it the way I do, philosophy is nothing but how you see things, infer and interpret it, and as a result, make use of it. Hence, the way you apply your thoughts in your life is philosophy. It can be everyone’s personal, or it can be a well advocated and popular one. It all depends on what you believe in and where does your faith rest. It encompasses all that has ever been said, or thought & worked upon.
You see, thinking is the vital pillar here. The more the better. Also, it is very contradictory. That is because, one might not think at all about all that is being processed, and still lead a very happy and peaceful life. On the other hand, when one gets deep into these things, they tend to get trapped in its complications and vastness, and that marks the beginning of all the trouble. As truly quoted by Socrates – “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. But those are the extreme cases of fanatics and rabid approach towards reasoning. Such type of behavior poses problems in any field of study and not just philosophy. And, we got deviated from our topic (happens quite often with me).
So earlier, when I didn’t know much as to what philosophy was all about, I used to think that it is just about expressing your views on something. To me, it was like to have a viewpoint, be it entirely different from what the world has. But, as a matter of fact, philosophy is a vast ocean of rational investigation of truths and principles. Based on which, one draws conclusions on being, knowledge, and conduct. Now again, if you noticed, we are back on the point that this study is driven by rationality. Whatever one thinks, holds some sense, and they have proper investigations done for it. So basically, it is human science; therefore it’s placed in the humanities department justified.
The word philosophy in itself is quite intriguing, as it is derived from Greek word philosophy, which means ‘love of wisdom’. No one could ever think of a better title than it already has, could they? It is believed to be named as by Pythagoras, who did not accept the system of government and education in Samos, where he was from. He moved to Croton to build his own cult where his followers would strictly follow his rules. He is still one of the most famous philosophers and mathematician; we all know Pythagoras’s Theorem, don’t we? He was also an inspiration for Plato, another great philosopher.
Having been talked about all this, let us now look at philosophy more closely. Philosophy has in its ensemble three main branches, namely natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. This is something I always keep doing even in my day-to-day life. Moreover, the scope of its study is never-ending. I can say this as I know it for a fact that everything we do today involves the things taught to us in this study. A philosopher can become anything; from a barrister to a psychotherapist, to a consultant, to a health manager and for God’s sake, even a marketing executive. The point to be noted here is that what philosophy does to our mind is not to teach us a subject, but open it up for everything we might have to deal with in our lives. As they say (& by ‘they’, I mean Jim Rohn), “Your income is directly related to your philosophy, not the economy”.
I think the most appealing part about philosophy is that you are not bound by any rules. Obviously, you cannot change the history, but the present and the future is in your hands. You are the master of your mind and destiny. You are the conqueror of your dreams. The best thing that is taught by all of these philosophers is that you don’t have to be stereotypical to fit in, you don’t have to follow the norms if they are not what you believe in. You are the only one of your kind and you should be able to express yourself against all odds.
So good luck peeps being you, choosing your dreams and turning them into reality.
Signing off with this amazing saying by Mark Twain –
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”