At the beginning of the semester I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew next to nothing about philosophy. I only signed up for the course because people told it was fun and “basically TALONS 12″. While they weren’t wrong, this statement didn’t prepare me for the reality of trying to distill the “truth” of the universe. Especially with people that I’d never talked to. So at the beginning of the term I said that philosophy was like panning for gold in a bathtub (gonna plead the fifth on telling y’all how much time I spent on that presentation). My justification being that I thought that there was only one truth in the universe.
Suffice to say, I’ve adapted my opinions a fair bit since then. Now, I think that philosophy is more like a kaleidoscope. It provides different ways to look at the same topic, and can make familiar things seem foreign to you. The biggest difference is in the new metaphor, everything you think can be true. If it seems true to you, it very well could be. Maybe everyone has a different truth, that’s fine. Maybe you even have a different “truth” every time you look back through the kaleidoscope. That’s kind of what philosophy has become for me over the course of this term. A way to question what I thought I knew and find different ways to look at almost everything.
What happened? Why did I go from thinking that philosophy was the search for THE truth to the search for A truth? The main influence on my metaphor was becoming more educated on the topic of philosophy.
The event that started me on this train of thought was the metaphysics Phils Day Off. When I was writing my post I noticed that many people can do the same activity and react in different ways. This led me to conclude that how people perceive things is different because of who they are. Things like past experiences can make the difference between a traumatic event and a fun one. People aren’t wrong for screaming while they bungee jump, its how they react. Much the same, the opinions of Kant are no more right or wrong than the opinions of Mill. Even while reading the thoughts of others, this class came up with different ways to determine what is moral. Exactly like how two people can look at the same thing through a kaleidoscope and see completely different images.
This continued through epistemology and aesthetics, right up to now. Unlike the first “What is philosophy?” assignment I’m actually very confident in my metaphor. It’s almost a guarantee that everyone who presents will have a different metaphor for what philosophy is. I find that very cool because it shows that philosophy lets people read the same thing, get different opinions about it, and still be right.
But where does that leave me? Do I have to accept that everyone has different opinions and those are their truths of the world? Does that mean I can’t call people out when they exhibit and act upon shitty opinions? Those are their truths after all. No, I can accept that people perceive things in a variety of ways but this metaphor applies to things like philosophy, not things that affect peoples lives and rights. This class as a whole has made me more accepting of others opinions which will come in handy in future. I learned a lot about philosophy as a whole and it’s become easier to see where people get their ideas from.