“All philosophies, if you ride them home, are nonsense; but some are greater nonsense than others. ” (Moore/Bruder, 17) The words of Samuel Butler play a large part in my own personal philosophy. Many of the questions asked by philosophy are unanswerable: “Why are we here? ” “Is there a God? ” Philosophic questions like these and the answers that a person gives when asked these questions are the most common ways to define that person. Every person is judged by his or her own personal philosophy; presidents are elected based on their philosophies; wars are incited and fought over philosophies.
No abstract idea in the world defines the world more than philosophy. But in order to more effectively discuss philosophy, first we must define philosophy and the terms that are very closely related to philosophy: humanities, knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Philosophy is the study of reality, the causes of existence and thought and the principles that guide these things. Anyone who asks questions such as: “What is real and what is unreal? ” is a philosopher. Thus we are all philosophers. Humanities looks at the creative nature of humankind, all those things that we create that are unnecessary to our asic survival.
Philosophy is one of the Humanities. Integral to understanding philosophy is distinguishing between knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Knowledge is the fact that one learns. Understanding is the process of digesting the knowledge and reflecting upon it. Wisdom is the application of facts that have been understood. And once knowledge is put into use, new knowledge is gained and the process starts all over again. Each person’s philosophy depends on the accumulation of knowledge they have obtained, understood and put into use.
Refocusing on philosophy itself, the study of philosophy is divided into four major areas. While there are more than four areas covered by philosophy, most can be considered sub-categories of the four major groups: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics. Metaphysics questions the nature of the universe and its significance. Epistemology questions knowledge: what do we truly know and how do we know it? Ethics seeks to discover what is moral, what is good or evil, what is right or wrong. Aesthetics studies the nature and definition for beauty and artistic judgment.
Almost any philosophic question that can be asked can fit into one of these four major categories. “You cannot know what is not, nor can you express it. What can be thought of and what can be – they are the same. ” (Moore/Bruder, 23) I completely agree with this statement of Parmenides. Many of the concepts that he spoke of make complete sense to me and are a part of my own personal philosophy. The knowledge of something does seem to verify its existence, does it not? How could one think of something that doesn’t exist? If you think of it, then it exists; even if its nly in your mind, it still exists.
To me, it also seems logical that if something exists, it cannot go out of existence. It may change into something else, but much like the theories of physics, nothing can be destroyed, only changed. Basically, I am extended the theory of the conservation of matter to energy as well. I think this applies to human beings and their “souls. ” I don’t think that humankind is here for any great purpose; rather we are like the animals of the world: we are here by random chance and our purpose is to survive long enough to reproduce and keep the species going.
When we die we are reincarnated as something else or go onto the next “world” if it exists, but we definitely go somewhere. If we exist now, how can we not exist after we die? Now, I don’t necessarily believe in the concept of the “soul” as something distint and separate from a human being. I think that the consciousness, experiences and knowledge of a human being die with that human being. The energy that ran through the brain before death goes somewhere else, as do the atoms that make up the physical being, but as far as some mystical “soul” that becomes a ghost or new person or angel, it doesn’t eem too logical to me.
I would also have to agree with Heraclitus when he said: “Reality is ceaselessly changing. There is no reality, save the reality of change: permanence is an illusion. ” (Moore/Bruder, 29). Heraclitus definitely has a good point. Every second that something exists it changes: It may become older, bigger, smaller, whatever, but it is always changing. Heraclitus would seem to be very intelligent, but, then again he also thought that everything was made of fire (“According to Heraclitus, all is fire, Moore/Bruder, 29). Well, nobody’s perfect.