I started studying Philosophy thinking it was going to be a field of study in the way that chemistry or law are fields of study; and even though it is, by virtue of its history, it is also something quite personal to my own life. It is as much out there as it is right here..
There are some fundamental questions at the heart of Philosophy from where the entire field emerges. Questions fundamental in a person’s life — Who am I? Who are we? What is my purpose? Am I living a good life? Are we right about this?
Out of this personal disquiet emerges the mighty branch of Philosophy. By examining ourselves we inevitably end up asking questions that pertain not only to me but to Us — How do we live together? How can we be fair and just to each other? How do we continuously improve as a community?
I was surprised that Philosophy had as much to do with big names like Plato and Aristotle as it has to do with me or the guy who works at UPS. It begins out of the unrest and curiosity in the human soul from where Zen, Buddhism, Christianity, and many other wisdom traditions come from. The questions, prayers, or koans we carry with us on a daily basis as we contemplate our lives are the very same questions at the heart of Philosophy.
Where Philosophy is unique is that it asks these very fundamental questions in an almost scientific way — it assumes nothing, it questions everything. Every bit of common sense, all that we take for granted, no rock is left unturned. Philosophy is unique because in being a method, it allows for us to examine these ethereal ideas together; you and I can do it by employing the same method. It’s in that way that I say it borders on scientific. Because even though it examines the intangible it does so in a way that can be questioned and poked at by others.
In all this, what I’m left with is a feeling of incredulity. I can’t believe people go to school for this, or even do it for a living. Those very same questions each one of us carries with us every day; are also a two-to-five thousand years old field of study.
As relevant then, as it is today.