“The unexamined life is not worth living” — Socrates
When philosophy gets brought up in any conversation, the mental image of Greek men wearing drapes and holding scriptures usually come to mind. To be fair, according to the Vocabulary dictionary, the entirety of the word bears meaning to the analytical study of questions regarding life, understanding and ethics. With that being said, philosophy can help us better understand our existence and cultivate moral values in our life to live it to the fullest. But the real question is, how can learning philosophy make us fulfilled and feel better in our lives?
Finding Purpose in Life
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The meaning of life is a statement that has been questioned throughout centuries, whether as a joke with friends or having a brief existential crisis when hitting rock bottom in life. According to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, he explains that the purpose of life is earthly happiness or flourishing that can be achieved through reason and the acquisition of virtue. Look at it this way, what really makes us human, more different than animals and plants? All of them are living things, but the things that set them apart are their capabilities and functions.
Plants grow and reproduce while animals are just super-plants as they do these things but with added mobility and senses such as sight, hearing, and so on. But humans, on the other hand, possess a trait that makes them far superior which is the use of rational thinking and communication through language. In essence, implementing philosophy from the masters of the past or even creating it ourselves exercises our ability to reason and think. This helps us better understand ourselves and more so, carve our path in life as we can understand what is true to us and how we should live based on what we believe.
Questioning Our Values and What We Should Know
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“It is politically incorrect.” I think you have heard this line before in a debate where both parties disagree with each other. Well, the truth is there is no absolute truth. The mere belief of truth is created by us humans. Once we question what we believe and value in our lives, we tend to realize those aspects are already determined by the people and culture around us. So what values should we believe?
According to the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, he called this questioning of what we grew up believing “the re-evaluation of values.” He said that if one has the mental and emotional courage to question these inherited values and beliefs, they will become what he referred to as the Ubermensch, or “Superman.”
I bet your first thought was the all-powerful alien superhero who is seemingly afraid of rock, right? Well, we can apply this way of thinking as “supermen”. According to Nietzsche, people can create their own values and have an independent mind. We can apply this by thinking about who we would like to become and not being afraid of questioning the values from your upbringings. The virtues that we grew up with does not make us immune to the vices that we will experience throughout life. In a nutshell, values are there to keep us striving to be the best version of ourselves and aid us when faced with the harsh winds of reality.
Philosophy is a knowledge that should be practised by today’s youth. We would have a proper understanding of creating our own philosophies and redefine ideas. Even to matters revolving justice, equality, and freedom, which has become relevant as ever. Especially with the rise of social movements and platforms to voice our opinions. Thus, the way we live our lives matter to keep humanity flourishing and have a meaningful existence.
By James Chu