Blogging, my old friend, how I’ve missed you.
A lot of that nostalgia probably has to do with how infrequently I actually blogged back in TALONS, but lets just hope the inquisitive questions of philosophy are enough of an interesting change of pace to keep me invested in blog posts during my final year of high school. So far it seems like that will likely be the case.
A class so vague, and so steeped in the glories of productive argument seems like an incredible basis of a progressivism based class for me, and to this day, the end of the second week, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the laid back environment of the class. That being said there is still work to be done and things to be thought.
In the previous weeks of class we have in more ways than one discussed what philosophy really is, a question that can only really be answered individually after some serious philosophical thought. Class began on the first day with a roundabout way of defining what exactly philosophy meant as a word, examining its routes and the whole nine yards. Following that the class went right into discussion on two related readings emphasizing that the entire basis of philosophy is, and forever has been, constructive conversation, a concept with which I personally, wholeheartedly agree.
The point of philosophy is not to have a range of facts at your disposal… it is to develop the skills and sensitivity to be able to argue about some of the most significant questions we can ask ourselves.
Above is a quote from the first of the two readings, titled “Talk with me”, a short article that brings up information and past experiences from more than a couple famous historical philosophers. Familiar names including but not limited to Socrates and Machiavelli emphasized the idea of thoughtful and insightful conversation composing the core of philosophy. I will openly admit that since we were given the reading in class I’ve read over it more than a couple of times as if the words will help guide my way through the very confusing, and very refreshing (In the same sense as a raging river, the water may feel great so long as you can manage to keep yourself afloat against the current) style of both teaching and learning incorporated with the class. I’m not sure whether or not the metaphorical life raft reading has helped me to stay above water or not but it has certainly brought more than a couple ideas to my mind about both what I hope to gain through the next few months of class, and, on a more existential level, what I consider philosophy to be at this early stage in the course.
Personally I’ve been looking forward to philosophy since the first time Mr. Jackson mentioned it to me all the way back in TALONS when I was little more than an eager and excitable grade nine. Now that I’m in the course however I’m honestly a little lost for words. It brings me great solace to skim through the blogs of those who have already posted only to see that many may share similar sentiments with me. All that being said, I do think I know exactly what I want to gain during the second block sessions of our class.
It’s so simple to live through a day to day life just accepting everything that comes your way at face value and thinking nothing more of it but after seventeen years of my life doing just that I hope this class will provide me with just the mental awakening I need to change that, change my very way of perceiving the world. It may seem a heavy task considering we only have a little over an hour a day, five days a week, for just about six months, but considering how much I’ve already found myself thinking more actively after only two weeks, I don’t think it will be an impossible task to achieve. If only nine classes have already made a minor mental change for me, I can only imagine how differently I will think, how differently I will see the world around me after the full course. The only problem I see with this personal goal is that there doesn’t seem to be any simple path to achieving it, for now it seems that I can only hope that as I continue to contribute in class it will further develop, consciously or not.
On the other, far more interesting hand (at least in my opinion) I do believe I’ve already come to terms with a rather interesting, and rather agreeable explanation as to what philosophy may be. Bear with me here as I bare to you the idea that the question “what is philosophy?” is philosophy itself. Three small words put together to form an impossibly large question that will likely never be truly solved, no matter how many Machiavelli’s, Rousseau’s, or struggling students try to do so. Isn’t that exactly what philosophy is then? Isn’t the whole idea about philosophy to look at these big, unanswerable questions and try to come up with some kind of agreement as to what their answer is, or at the very least may be? If that is the case then I propose that the very question of what philosophy is, is philosophy itself. In a way it’s reminiscent of the chicken and the egg conundrum, did the idea of philosophy come before the need to know what philosophy was, or did it end up the other way around?
I guess it’s just another one of those things we may never really know, though perhaps together, as a class we may just be able to mash our minds together to come up with a consensus that most (if not all) of us agree with. Whether or not we do agree on one collective answer though, I strongly believe that it’s the journey and the discussion that is truly important in a philosophy class. After all, it does really just come down to a series of theoretical ramblings between a class of grade twelve students and their teacher, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I’d argue that those very ramblings of our class will be far more valuable to each and every one of us than any hard facts we could actually be learning about in, say, calculus or biology.
In the end it comes down to the difference between wisdom and knowledge (Something some have mentioned in passing during the last two weeks) but far be it from me to continue (theoretically) rambling about that difference when I could borrow the words of Albert Einstein to do exactly that for me, in a much clearer way.
Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it
I’ll leave you all with a simple picture that I think greatly summarizes everything I’ve just said, a tl;dr if you will.