Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, November 28, 2016

(H3 Final Installment) Megan: The Philosopher

What should one expect coming into a philosophy course? Will it be life changing? Earth shattering? Affirming? The experience has been different for each person who goes through this journey but mine has been a mix of both affirming and of questioning. Many questions and ideas were brought to my attention that I have never before thought of. It has caused me to think of the world around me in a more in depth light than I ever have before and I have begun to analyze myself and my beliefs in life. It has led me to have even more of passion to search for truth and to have a better worldview each day.   
The perspectives of others has always been important to me but I got an up close and personal look at the hearts and minds of those very different to me in this class. What sounds completely ludicrous to me sounded reasonable and brilliant to others. My worldview has been widened through researching the most famous philosophers and of learning the philosophy of those who surround me on campus each and every day. In the class discussions and in the group walks we took I felt emotions from extreme frustration to happiness so great that a smile spread across my face. I realized that typically we have been taught to want to immediately reject opinions and views different from our own but in philosophy it is vital to try to put aside your own viewpoints momentarily in order to see those of other people.  
The main emotion provoked through learning philosophy has been immense frustration. I am someone who likes an answer and one thing philosophy rarely gives is an absolute answer. It seems as if anything could be the answer if you could put some reasoning behind it. Early on in class I discovered that in the study of philosophy, there will always be more questions than answers. Even the great Socrates himself had a method of answering a question with a question, then what are we left with? A tangled web of questions that seem to never be answered.  One of the main things that every person searches for in life is answers so studying a subject that leaves me without them sure has been quite the headache. I want clarity. I want something solid. Philosophy seems to never be solid, it is always changing.  
One of the most challenging subjects that came up in class was that of God. I've grown up in a family where almost everyone strongly follows Christianity and when I came to an age where I understood what it truly meant to have a relationship with Christ and my need for Him, Christianity and my relationship with God became the most important part of my life. I still remember reading a passage in which one of the philosophers believed it was impossible to have a relationship with a loving God and it baffled me. I have always pictured God as loving and approachable, accepting those with arms wide open. Almost every philosopher had a different perspective on who God was and if God even existed. It raised some interesting questions but my philosophy has stood firm through the class and through my life that there is one true God who has created and loves us all. 
It leads me to think even further on the question of what do people base their lives and morals off of if they do believe in God or in some kind of higher power? I do not at all think that you have to have a religion or even believe in God in order to be a good human being, but it surely helps to have a basic guide upon which you want your life to follow. Life is so complicated and difficult that I find it hard to fathom what I would do without the basis of my faith and the love and security I have from my relationship with God. For me personally, it also clears up any doubts of what will happen once I die. One of the questions philosophers have pondered for years is what happens when we die, and while I don't have factual evidence for the heaven and hell I believe in it is something I know I will always believe to be true. Putting myself in the shoes of others religions (and or not religions) through the semester has been an intriguing experience that has broadened my horizons to what others believe about the afterlife and why they live their lives accordingly.  
Tied into the afterlife and God is the concept of sin. I had never thought about there being a world in which sin did not exist because I have been raised in a world where it is just a fact that I live in a world full of sin in which I myself am a part of and add to. Talking to several others when this subject got brought up truly showed how growing up in extremely different households and environments can create such opposite beliefs. The majority of people who grew up in a religious home had a negative outlook upon sin. Of course sin isn't a good thing but it seems to have become an overbearing burden upon the shoulders of people in more religious households. The question is though is what would be the determinant of good and bad if sin didn't exist? A world where sin is nonexistent had never crossed my mind before it got brought up in philosophy.  
In the ring of philosophy it seems as if it would be a difficult task to be a devout Christian and a respected philosopher among your colleagues. Typically, as Plato has taught us, it goes against conventional philosophy to have your mind set in stone upon any subject because it goes against the spirit of the search for the answers and truth that philosophy is all about. The few philosophers we read about that were devoted Christians (or at least claimed to be) seemed to often get ridiculed either by Russell or other philosophers. I found that slightly disheartening because I believe that a person can successfully be both a strong Christian and a brilliant philosopher. In fact, I find it important that each Christian, and each person in general, are all a philosopher to some extent. While I never think that my opinion is the one true one, I have certain things that I know to be truth to me and every person has at least one or two things in which they know to be truth to them, and just because they have their own truths does not meant that they can't be wonderful, eye-opening philosophers. One thing I have learned from philosophy is that I myself am a philosopher; I go to seek the truth and to always keep my heart, mind, and ears open to the wisdom of others so that I can constantly be learning and growing in order to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be.  

5 comments:

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  2. It's great that you have such firm belief in the doctrines of your faith, but I also really hope you don't forget the philosophical imagination you developed in this class and how to use it to constantly expand your field knowledge and wisdom. One of the things Goldstein pointed out about Plato's teachings is that, although he certainly doesn't think all his concepts are false, he encourages everyone (himself included) to never stop questioning things, even things you may feel you have a clear answer to. Always be open to wider perspectives, alternate explanations, and eager contributions. It sounds like you learned a lot in this class! Great post. (H2)

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  3. "...it is vital to try to put aside your own viewpoints momentarily in order to see those of other people." I totally agree with that part. It is rare to see people nowadays that are willing to do this.
    "I do not at all think that you have to have a religion or even believe in God in order to be a good human being, but it surely helps to have a basic guide upon which you want your life to follow." I liked the way you put this part. Personally, i dont believe in any known God/s, but i still believe that if you dont stand for something, you fall for everything. So, i believe in morals and ethics, and in guidelines that make me a person that makes others happy and doesnt bring harm to others (which in its own way I could say those things can be compiled to make my own personal view of a "God"). So, yes, it is possible to be a good human being without being religious.
    Good job!

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  4. "Even the great Socrates himself had a method of answering a question with a question, then what are we left with? A tangled web of questions that seem to never be answered." - I've always found asking questions to be DIS-entangling, as it permits the elimination of bad answers and invites the consideration of better ones... and of better questions.

    "while I don't have factual evidence for the heaven and hell I believe in it is something I know I will always believe to be true." - I don't quite understand how one can KNOW that she'll always believe x, y, or z, in advance of all the possible new experiences, encounters, and ideas a lifetime affords.

    For the record, some of my best friends are devoutly religious. Some of them are also good philosophers. It's all about remaining open and curious, and recognizing that you shouldn't believe everything you think. Or, as you put it so well: "always keep my heart, mind, and ears open to the wisdom of others so that I can constantly be learning and growing in order to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be."

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  5. I relate to this well being that I am a Christian in a Western Philosophy course. It is tough to remain open to changing views on everything when we are taught to have faith. I think there is a very delicate balance between faith and close-mindedness, so I tried to keep my mind open to all possibilities while holding onto the one truth that I have felt in my life through the evidence around me-- God. I have definitely came to learn other philosophies while holding onto that truth in this class. H3

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