Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Applications of our Philosophies - Trollface Socrates' Farewell Blog Post (H-01)
I don't know if anyone remembers the first question we ever asked ourselves in this class, but our very first discussion was on the meanings of philosophy, and through our collective musings we established that philosophy is the quest for the truth and how by simply engaging in the egregarious act of looking for it, we (and every philosopher that woud ever exist) were condemning themselves to a lifetime of squabbling and soul-searching.
Then, it begs the question, why do we quest for the truth? And then once we find something we're comfortable with, something that we can accept within the schemas of our lives, how do we apply that to the lives that we lead, day in and day out? Ultimately, we quest for the meaning of our lives and how that meaning affects our very existence, and that brings us today's (and our final) blog post on the application of our philosophies.
So, our group's discussion focused not on the meaning of life, but on how our own interpretations of life affects others. First off, everyone in our group (including Dr. Oliver) accepted that because everyone experiences life differently, everyone's idea of the "meaning of life" is going to be different as well. But, conflict inevitably arises when two conflicting beliefs on life fail to reconcile. In such a case, who is right? Is a person who feels just as adamantly about something that's completely opposite of what you believe ultimately passionate but wrong? Or should you choose to accept it instead?
Here's a thought experiment for you, just to put things into perspective. Most people would agree that killing someone to obtain a means to an end is wrong, but what if you meet someone that believes that terminating a person's life is an effective way to achieve a goal and further his life? If you believe that everyone is entitled to their own life's philosophy, how do you handle such a person when confronted with such a conflicting set of beliefs. You certainly can't tell him he's wrong. But if you believe that the philosophy you believe is the absolute way to live life and the set of beliefs you believe in should be emulated by everyone, then you'll be able to criticize him without conflict (and the story for you, ends here).
But for everyone else, how do we reconcile our beliefs with our innate emotions? How can we, in good philosophical faith, go about our lives holding moral double standards due to our discrepancies between the things we think and the things we feel?
If you believe that emotions are detrimental to the development of a personal philosophy, then you may very well choose to purge yourself of emotions such as these. Some people believe that emotions cloud the true ethical and moral parts of ourselves, and by extension the moral composition of society as a whole. Emotions cloud our minds, inhibit our decisions, and impair our judgements, and I can totally see how one would believe that because of the effects of the emotions we feel, they're something that should eventually be expunged.
But then, what really are our emotions but an litmus test of what we really believe? If we become passionate over a situation or a topic, then doesn't that indicate that our true beliefs lie where our emotions are? Personally, me and a few others in my group thought that our philosophies should be amended to allow for our passions to be in line with our beliefs, and to therefore flourish. Because, if your not trying to actively inhibit yourself, won't your beliefs become stronger than ever as a result?
In the end, our emotions have effectively required us to reevaluate our own philosophies, and to find the middle ground where were can account for our moral duties and our humane feelings. Whatever we may find at the end of our quest for the truth, we all agree that it's important to be true to yourself, and to be true to the things you believe. But since our own stories define what the meaning of our lives are going to be, it's important that we stick with them to encourage our own personal (and philosophical) growth. The passions we embraced in the beginning may not be the concepts we believe in at the end, but through our journey, the beautiful intersecting tangle of our existences, the imperative truth is that we do the things that lead us to what we believe to be our eventual self-fulfillment.
Maybe one day, we'll truly know what the meaning of our lives are.
A Personal Statement from Trollface Socrates' Co-Author
To everyone who has or hasn't been reading these blog posts since the beginning, I say thank you. While I've struggled with these throughout the semester, these writings have come to stand for something personal for me, and it's a satisfying feeling to be able to look back on the things I've written and go "Wow, I wrote that!" It makes me feel like I've really been able to contribute to the discussions we've all had, and I truly feel like by become such an integral part of CoPhilosophy, I've grown not only in my writings, but in my search for what I consider to be my own beliefs as well.
Even though I know the ultimate fate of the things I write is to be buried and forgotten in the philosophies of others over time, I'm happy that I've been given the wonderful chance to contribute to this wonderful collaborative search for wisdom. So, from me to all of you who have and will ever care, thank you for everything.
- Morgan Hunlen