What Is Philosophy?
If you asked ten people, “What is philosophy?” you’d get ten different answers. Of course, this isn’t new– people have always argued whether philosophy is something you study, talk about at parties, write about in legislative documents, or apply to your daily life.
I tend to align with Greek philosopher Epictetus and biblical author James: I think philosophy is something you do. In other words, if you aren’t acting out your beliefs, can you really say you believe in them?
So, how do we do philosophy in our daily lives?
- We talk to each other––especially when we disagree
- We explore and reshape our deepest thoughts through prayer, meditation, and journaling
- We read many perspectives, but hold them loosely, seeking the thread of truth which runs through them, and rejecting that which distracts us from what is real
- We push our bodies to the limit in pursuit of self-mastery so that we can maintain control under adverse circumstances
When we engage daily in the act of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self-conquest, pushing up against the edges of ourselves, seeking discomfort, and building habits of personal growth, we put philosophy into action, treating it not as something dead to examine and discard, but instead as a tool to sculpt ourselves into something new.
Quote Of The Week
“The possession of Knowledge, unless accompanied by a manifestation and expression in Action, is like the hoarding of precious metals––a vain and foolish thing.” –– The Kybalion
Learn Like A Fool
It is only through testing that truth can be found. This is an underlying principle of science, and it’s also an idea that has driven philosophical progress throughout history.
If you want to learn, you must push ideas until they fail, and then, through logical examination, find out why they failed and apply that lesson to your next idea.
This is the irony of philosophy, AKA “the love of wisdom.” In order to become wise, you must find all the ways in which you are a fool. Philosophy is like a light you shine into the darkest parts of your soul so that you can discover and deal with what’s hidden there.
To this end, I feel that philosophy is more a search for questions than it is for answers. For example, let’s approach the concept of lying:
- What is a lie?
- Is lying bad? Why or why not?
- Do I lie?
- Why do I lie?
- What have I gained by lying?
- What have I lost by lying?
- Have the lies I’ve told been worth telling?
- How have lies impacted my life –– both the ones I’ve been told and the ones I’ve told?
I cannot answer these questions for you.
However, if you allow yourself to sit with them for a few hours, or perhaps for a lifetime, the answers could have a transformative impact on your sense of identity, the way you treat others, and the impact you leave on the world.
So what is philosophy?
I don’t know, but I think the question is perhaps more important than the answer.
Question Of The Week
Take a minute to reflect on the beliefs you hold about yourself, about others, and about the universe. How do you put those beliefs into action?
Now, be honest with yourself. Do you actually put your beliefs into action?
If not, then, based on your actions, what do you actually believe?
The Curiosity Chronicle is a personal growth newsletter authored by entrepreneur and investor Sahil Bloom that has helped me change how I think about life, relationships, and business. If you are an independent thinker with a passion for business, I recommend you check it out.
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