Thursday, August 30, 2007

So, define Philosophy.

Defining philosophy is to define what it actually is, and, yet it is difficult to do so since by pinpointing a lexical definition of it runs the risk of oversimplifying the term. And this oversimplification can lead to looking at philosophy as an academic exercise removed from its intricate connection with the world. I find it strange then to define it, however I must admit the act of philosophizing is something that produces a certain discipline or outlook which broadens the horizon of the human person and further ones knowledge of one’s self. To philosophize is to embody the questions of those who precede us. It is to ask again what really it is to be a human person given our ever-changing situations. Allow me then to relate an experience which I feel paints more accurately what philosophy is in my daily life.

Last Saturday, I gave a recollection to a group of boys until 12 noon. After which, I listened to a three-hour lecture. I felt so spent that day that I rushed home to retire. However, when I arrived home, I could not sleep. I went out of the house and walked from Barangka to Tañong, and then back to Katipunan then entered the Ateneo campus. Looking back, I did not understand why I did such a thing. There were no great ideas that came over me while walking. What I had in mind was to make sure I stayed on the sidewalk to avoid being hit. I had no mystical experience while looking at an old lady trying desperately to get to the other side while doing a patintero with the jeepneys. I was concentrating on holding my handkerchief to avoid inhaling those horrific black smoke emitted by those jeepneys. At the end of the day, I had a tired feet and an oily face. That day ended with me still baffled why I did such a thing. I never knew what it meant to me until I sat down and tried to think deeply what it actually meant. And this is what philosophy or philosophizing is, to actually get our hands dirty, to allow our daily experience to tell us why we do things and what they tell us about ourselves.

Should one miss to develop one’s sense of wonder in putting things together one’s experience, one gets stuck with what the world is feeding the person. A sense of wonder helps the person to get out of the usual patterns of thought and bring alive those which are thought to be impossible. One does not stop in wondering what the experience means to the person at different moments of one’s life, therefore giving new insights or lessons appropriate for the person at that instance.

I wish to use the analogy of looking at a cut diamond. We look at it at a distance on one side. But we just don’t put it down, we turn it against the light and see the different colors it emits. Such is the way we do with philosophizing, we do not look at it on one side, but we turn and twist it to ‘see’ the different meanings it emits to us. We try to use our sense of wonder to make sense out of it. When wonder is absent from all of life’s beauty, we run the risk of being like walking zombies, unable to celebrate life and continues to wander around aimlessly. A sense of wonder enables us to discover new things about ourselves given the new environments that we are exposed. We will not be always at the receiving end to that which what the world wants to dictates to us, but we begin to develop our own selves.
A question then, follows the example of ‘seeing’ the different kinds of light emitted by a diamond; will we ever exhaust, or see all the kinds of light the diamond emits? Will we ever say, ‘this is enough, I’ve seen enough’?

I don’t think we will. At each slow turn of the diamond in our fingers, different experiences will also turn with it. Thereby an experience associated with a ‘color’ will have a different ‘texture’ as it is seen again. That experience, through the passage of time, will have a different flavor, as it will be seen again. Our sense of wonder fuels us to turn this diamond and like the turning of the diamond, it will never be exhausted as long as let go and let our sense of wonder wander. Finally, simply put it, philosophy is enjoying life!

this paper was submitted to my epistemology class this year.


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