Answering the question, what is philosophy, is just as baffling as the very topics that are contained within it. The way I see it, philosophy is a subject that engulfs many different topics and ideas. And since philosophy is such a varied and interesting topic, it takes a lot to try and define it at all. In my own mind, I’ve tried to split philosophy up into the search for the nature of things, the sharing and discussion of ideas, and the love and search for wisdom. Each of these different ideas holds an equal amount of weight in building up philosophy as whole. And through an exploration of each topic, it may be possible to get to the root of philosophy.
I’ve always had a sort of joke image of what a philosophy class would look like before I was actually in one. I always imagined a scene of a very dimly lit room, with a single candle in the very center of the room. I imagined all the students sitting down in their desks, with no teacher in the room. Then the teacher would come in suddenly, and stare at the students. They would look at the students and simply ask “Why?” and then exit the room, not returning, with no explanation whatsoever. ~ While this scene is obviously very far away from the truth, I came to realize that there was one bit of truth. The question why is a very important part of philosophy. It is a way to get to the very root and origin of things. Philosophy serves as a way to challenge everything and to try and understand the very nature of things. Really it is the act of being able to ask why anything the way it is, or why it isn’t. Philosophy gives us a reason to get to the very bottom of things and the topics that we can try and understand the nature of vary from questions such as why bears hibernate, to the very origin of life itself. We can begin to expand our ideas and understand our world better. Trying to get to the roots of the world’s mystery’s lay down a foundation for what philosophy is, as it helps present us with the fact that through philosophy, we are able to question everything.
Next, a big part of philosophy in my eyes are the discussions and general sharing of ideas that surround philosophy. Talking about and spreading knowledge is so vital for humans at large, and why things such as an open online class are so valuable. Discussions can take both a formal and informal state. Formally we can talk about and share ideas in a more structured situation. Publishing books or papers or even writing a blog is a great way to get ideas out there and its important that everyone be able to share ideas through these and other mediums so that we can continue to nurture the lust for knowledge, though unfortunately not everyone is able to. But we can also discuss ideas is a much more informal way. Talking around a campfire or a late weekend conversation out on a patio are also great ways to continue the circulation of knowledge. Why it’s important to look at these different ways of spreading knowledge and ideas is because the spreading of knowledge can lead us to each understand individually more about the world, and make our own viewpoints about the world. Trying to understand the world and how we each ourselves understand it is a huge part of philosophy which makes the way we arrive at those conclusion an even bigger part too. Discussion and conversations in any form are a great way for us all to be able to learn more and understand more about life, and keep the fire to gain more knowledge alive.
Lastly, a big part that makes up the giant whole that is philosophy is the search for and love of wisdom. This is the most personal and introspective part of philosophy. And the search for more wisdom is another reason why we do philosophy. The love of wisdom gives of the drive to spend many restless nights trying to find answers to possibly unanswerable questions. It’s what continues to push us to look for more and more ways of thinking about things, and for more things to think about. It is in turn, the driving force behind philosophy. Philosophy teaches us within itself to keep looking for new things to learn. The whole basis of philosophy is based off of the love of wisdom. Its why we come here to learn. The never ending search for more things to learn guides us through this tricky path of life, and helps us figure out were we ourselves would like to be. The love of wisdom helps us to keep searching and learn more, and is in turn what gives philosophy its name.
Philosophy engulfs so much, that it is almost impossible to answer the question. I guess in the most basic form in my mind, philosophy is the act of constantly examining, questions and mysteries, with the knowledge that the answers we come to may be completely ambiguous and are always left up to own individual opinions. Which is exactly the case for philosophy itself. Through examining each of the different topics we’ve talked about, I’ve found out some way or another what philosophy means to me, but to each of us it’s different, and none of the answers are wrong. The answer is completely subjective and the way we arrive there is different to each of us, but the fact that remains that each of our own individual philosophy’s are a way to express and discuss our views on life, and to help us grow and learn among another with a open minds.