Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Do You Care About Deep Questions?

 Philosophy is incredibly important and it would take a much longer post to say why, but one thing I've heard when discussing philosophy off the cuff with people is it seems completely impractical to them. I'm not a philosopher in the academic sense, I just have a deep appreciation for the work of philosophy as a laymen and enjoy reading about philosophy in my spare time (and really whenever I can).

There are aspects of philosophy that to the average person seem pointless to talk about. But there are more practical applications of philosophy that are not always immediately realized. One of those practical applications for me is a process of self-reflection that focuses on "knowing myself." I've noticed that I have been self-aware since I was young and found myself asking incredibly deep and sometimes troubling existential questions at a young age. They were only troubling in the sense that I couldn't quite wrap my head around existence. I remember one instance when I was probably about 9 years old give or take a year when I suddenly became hyper-conscious of myself as an individual observer in the world. All of the sudden I was thinking "outside of my self" to the extent that it sparked an existential mini-crisis in me where I simply could not grasp what existence was. I looked at a coffee cup sitting on the table and didn't just see the coffee cup but tried to understand what this coffee cup was if it wasn't for our own definitions of what it was. The question for me was, "was it more than just the cup?" and "does it even make sense to call it a cup if the word cup doesn't really exist?" 

These periods of sudden awareness would subside and I would soon forget them only to return to the question in periods of solitude or when I was having good days.
This lead to a deep appreciation of the things I had even at a very young age. If I was having a particularly good day with family and all things in the world seemed to be perfect for the moment, the heightened state of awareness about the possibility of losing this happiness would hit me and I would immediately become concerned about the good times ending. This made me really savor the moments with family and friends and shaped who became later in life. 

I suppose this was the foundation for my interest in the academic work of philosophy. When I was in 10th grade I read "The Stranger" by Albert Camus and it changed me. I suddenly felt in the right company with the main character in the book who saw the apparent absurdity in life. This led me to a long search for truth and a process of developing my own views as an individual. That was the book that led me to appreciate philosophy.

Though I had always been someone who believed in God, I wasn't particularly religious in high school but would have considered myself loosely in touch with my spiritual upbringing. 

One book that started my craving for the ultimate truth about God was the unlikely book "Bless Me, Ultima". I was the only kid in my class that would actually have deep conversations with my teacher about the book and it sparked yet another search for truth.

Both of these books were instrumental in my approach to life and my love for philosophy, not so much for their own approach to viewing the world but for sparking curiosity in my mind enough to search out the truth for myself.

That brings me to why philosophy, to some extent, is important for everyone. How many people actually think about deep questions about life? How many people go about their mundane day to day lives hoping to find some purpose in what they do without actually thinking about what our purpose truly is? 

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