25. marraskuuta 2009

Ylös Kalenteri Tapahtumat Filosofia ET FETOsta UKK



Sebastian Stodolak

I LO im.M.Kopernika w Krośnie, Krosno, Poland


Topic 1.


A little trip into philosophy

There is a world where we can’t be sure of anything. There is a world where every light turned on makes us feel it’s getting darker. The more we know, the more we ask. The more we ask, the less we know. But that world isn’t as sad and senseless as it seems. That world hides the truth in search of which we experience the things we have never thought could exist and we realize that many things we knew so well were only an illusion. That mysterious world has a name. Philosophy.

One of its most important characteristic features is the ability to expose superficial ideas and myths. Philosophy deprives us of our fancied rights to certainty. That’s why we can call it “negative”. We lose our old foundation in order to get a new one. To refute a false theory, to shake people’s dogmatism is to help find out who we really are and show the others how much more is left to discover. We must remove the dirt of lies from the elementary truth. What truth? As long as ignorance and arrogance rule the world we can’t see it. If our lives are continued this destructive way, philosophy will become a never-ending shadows-hunting. Nevertheless we still have a chance to use this “negative” discipline to achieve positive results. In that sense philosophy has almost always been a real untruth-destroyer.

Before the first philosophers came, ancient tribes had had their own legends about how gods, demons and ghosts run the world. Everything had been the effect of the supernatural power’s action: sunrises and sunsets, illnesses and recoveries, harvest and starvation. Inexplicable had been explained by inexplicable. The sages changed it. It was a kind of a revolution, because philosophy suddenly reduced meaning of primitive beliefs almost entirely. It surely was a symptom of progress and a way of ”showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect”. The philosophers created plenty of unusual theories answering the questions: “What is the basic lumber of the world?” and “How and why did it all begin?” For instance Thales said that water was the beginning of all things. Heracleitos changed water for fire. At last Anaximander thought that all had been constituted by apeiron - infinite space instead of the elements. But to me the most interesting idea came from Pythagoras and his students. They found the essence of cosmos to be numbers and harmony. Though the philosophical works were most often poems at first, with time they were getting more sophisticated and precise in language. It let a philosopher as Aristotle write real scientific works. But in spite of being well-developed, the language still wasn’t able to explain exactly why our world was just like this: complicated and full of absurds. However, the ancient philosophers gave an example of using our sense of wonder. The period of time they lived in can be closed by one of Socrates’ sentences: “Scio me nihil scire”. But let’s think a while if it changed. Do we know something more now than twenty five centuries ago? Do we know anything certain? No, and throughout all those years the only thing we’ve learnt is that we are such weak and small beings. So what is a philosopher’s problem in our times? Searching for the origin of the world, studying nature? Rather not. Philosophers have to face reality. Reality of bored and sad people slowly forgetting the meaning of life; reality of no hope, no dreams, reality of money. Misery and disasters, war and deception. That’s what we have. What do philosophers say now? Some of them, as Teilhard de Chardin, try to look at this being more reserved. De Chardin claims the world to be still in good progress. He believes that we are going through a temporary crisis which is related to our rising awareness of ourselves. That’s a quite optimistic view. But is that real? Maybe the truth lies on J.P. Sartre’s side. He says: “Hell is the others”. He has good proofs to support his thesis. Example? The Second World War. It points at an animal in our souls. We can be less human and more monstrous - depends on what we want to achieve at the moment. And usually we want to achieve horrible things. Why? “Because we don’t accept ourselves” - answers Erich Fromm, a twentieth century philosopher. Is there any solution? Fromm says there is. To know why you are unhappy is to know where your disease comes from. The only way to make us happy is to fall in disinterested love with all mankind. Here we have a piece of great advice! Great, but also hard to understand if we don’t have a specific literacy, defined as the art of understanding every aspect of our language. There are some philosophers showing us that language is a maze in which we need a guide. More and more, proportionally to its evolution. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russel, Tadeusz Kotarbiński say that logic can be the guide. According to them we need to analyze carefully the sentences. They all should be reduced to the simplest form - “the atomic propositions” that let us tell which one is true. Separately from those theories we also have the others which, although the elementary language level is still important to them, pay more attention to “reading between the lines”. Ricouer, Gadamer proclaim that this symbolic dimension of language results from its history. We should know the history in order to recognize all the contexts included and understand the message right.

Philosophy is, as you can clearly see, an inseparable self-completing whole that can be salutary for those living in blissful ignorance. When they open their eyes they will be able to change the world. But we all need one more thing to make our dreams come true. Certainty. Where can we find it, is still a great mystery. There is no-one and nothing on the earth that could assure us we exist and the world exists. We are still insecure and we don’t know who we should listen to. We don’t have a common reference point. Because of that some people justify the worst things: “Who is to judge us? None.” And they are right ‘till we agree with this. But “liberating doubt” should lead us through this to the final truth. Someday. Now we must establish a common and temporary convention - the world and we exist. Assuming that we get rid at once of Descartes problem of certainty and his doubtful solution “Cogito, ergo sum”. Consequently, we are getting near the classic definition of truth now. Harmony of reality (facts) and sentences is a matter of analytic philosophy. I have already mentioned its main representatives in previous paragraph - Wittgenstein and Russell. I don’t want to depict precisely each one’s views here, because it is not a place for this. However, I have to say that those philosophers believe strongly that we can tell something certain about things we can see. So about material things. The problem in describing facts is a little different here. That if description is true depends on how much this description is concrete. We must analyze its every single part in reference to reality. What to do if we are talking about things we can’t touch or see as spirit, God, good and evil, etc. We are people with beating hearts; we can’t pass over those spiritual spheres. But in case of metaphysics Wittgenstein says: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” But don’t be discouraged! Reality influences words, words don’t influence reality - if souls and similar things exist nothing can change it. Generally and apart from the last sentences, I think we don’t know anything for sure, and every truth known now is substitutional ‘till it is confirmed. By what? That’s what we must find out.

No matter if we keep silent or not we should keep on searching. We must remember that we already have a little part of certainty - we are sure that certainty is not only a word. I think philosophy is not the only but surely the most effective way to reach our desired top. Of course, this way is not easy. And many people prefer thoughtless life to the real one which is a source of pain and joy, of defeats and victories. But the real life isn’t a life of a vegetable, it is being aware and it is worth living. Even if we will never find our answers.


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Tätä sivustoa on viimeksi päivitetty 20. lokakuuta 2006