Friday, March 23, 2007

WHY NOT?

I was tempted to respond, ‘why not?”, when I saw the guide questions for this long test. It was a reaction that was actually empty of any claim for I do not have the capacity (yet) to back-up this response. But in the end of two years, hopefully I can take that side of the argument and honestly ask, ‘why not?’ with a bit of the answer in mind. But for now, I will have to set that aside.

In this day and age, information is power. Information can come in different forms at different speeds. And the more timely the information is, the more powerful it is. Telecommunications have changed the way we mean by up-to-date or up to the last second. For now these are all possible, literally. We enter into a day filled with different kinds of information. We let them go through us, influence us, move us and we swiftly let the day end, with these thousands of information pass us, unprocessed. And it is in these little pockets of moments where we have a glimpse of our being. And no better way for us to know the being in us, but in philosophizing.

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 ADMU campus. Looking back, I could not understand how 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 of 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 Ferriols wanted when he asks us to ‘do’ philosophy and not just define it. To actually get our hands dirty to know whether it is what it is. An insight, if I may add with Ferriols’ thought, presupposes a reflection of an experience. A reflection that is not a ‘navel-gazing’ exercise but a reflection that includes the surroundings of the person. An insight that actually moves the person into action. I suppose an insight that does not attain its full meaning when it is not set into action. It remains an insight. It remains ‘up there.’ What good is it then to be left ‘up there’?

Depending whether something is of importance to a person, one may not be compelled to act on it. I’d say it would now depend on how it is of relevance to the person. If it compels the person to wake up in the morning and plague the person’s mind, if it drives the person to work on things, then that may be of significant importance to the person. If it is giving the person that ‘itch,’ then such a ‘something’ could be a true question.

Once I had to drop everything I was doing since I had to understand a certain part of me that I could not completely grasp. I was getting confused why the ideal self was inversely proportional to my real self. There was confusion; why was there a difference of what I say from what I do. It came to that serious point that I had to drop everything to find a way to ‘unscrew’ such dilemma. This was of utter importance to me, that I could afford to drop everything I was doing. It gave me such un-easeness to the point that it manifested in my bodily dis-ease.

In that context, I would say that the experience gave me a new insight, an insight that I could use to better myself. An insight that gave me a piece of knowledge of who I am and pushed me another step forward to knowing myself. In the many facets of philosophizing, the number of benefits we could draw from it depends on where we are looking at it. There will a certain resolution, but not quite. For our human instincts will tell us to look at it differently, and so hopefully, draw out a different insight. 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.

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. Just as philosophizing.

We may stop turning the diamond for a moment and simply gaze at the light, just like we may stop philosophizing for a moment and be content with what we have achieved. But there will come a time, when we cannot help, but be compelled to turn the diamond again, to ask again, to philosophize again. And as each turn becomes more unpredictable, we come to the knowledge, that even if we have passed this way before, we cannot say, we know.

For saying we know is assuming that we no longer open ourselves to learning for we have set a formula that we have established. We apply certain principles that we think is applicable to all and think of ourselves as wise. Just as the Athenians were.

It is a great folly to fall into the trap and say, ‘I know.’ For much better it is to say I do not know, even if I have an inkling or knowledge of it, than to say I know and not fully expound what I purportedly know. Socrates pounds this on his fellow countrymen and yet they were stubborn to accept their flaw. And yet how funny it is that such admonition is still relevant today. Information is power and people want to have that piece of information, however incomplete, and declare it, in the hope that it will bring about power to them. The temporary grasp of information blinds them to acquire more of it, even if there is a flaw to such information. Socrates reminds his people, and us, that it is not enough to get hold of knowledge, but to grasp it and understand it. In doing so, we run the risk of not really understanding completely what it is. And we become humbled by the fact that in our own strength, lies our great limitation.

published in Pilosopo Tasyo
A Philosophy Joournal of the
Ateneo Philosophy Club

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