Have you ever wondered why certain thoughts exist? Why certain ideas will manifest themselves within our minds? Why we sometimes doubt or deny some things, and yet are quick to accept others?
What I enjoy most about my Philosophy class is that it addresses certain questions that people don’t normally tend to ask themselves. It’s also interesting to compare and contrast the answers that certain philosophers have come up with in order to explain why certain things are the way they are.
Rene Descartes, for instance, believed that humans are born with innate ideas that were given to them by God, and those ideas are the only pieces of ‘certain knowledge’. Everything else, especially the human senses, are not to be trusted because he believed that they were capable of deceiving our minds. “I think, therefore I am”, was a philosophical principle coined by this philosopher, which is not entirely false, but also is not entirely true.
John Locke, another philosopher, discouraged Descartes idea of humans needing to doubt their own senses. He held great trust in the senses, believing that “there is nothing in the intellect which does not first come from the senses”. He rejected most, although not all, of what Descartes theorized about the nature of human existence. Most people recognize him for his idea that human beings are born as an ’empty slate’, known in Latin as ‘Tabula Rasa’ (one of my favorite episodes of Stargate Atlantis).
Aristotle, who came before both of them, believed in the idea that the soul and the physical body were, in fact, one and the same. This train of thought led him to the idea that the soul was not, in fact, immortal, but was limited to the lifespan of the human body. He also followed the theory of ‘causation’, where everything could be explained based off of a model of 4 levels: material cause (the object), efficient cause (creator of the object), formal cause (idea/makeup of the object), final cause (purpose of the object).
We all know that we exist, but as for why and how, that remains a mystery. Thousands of philosophers have tried to answer those questions, but in the end, their answers are entirely theoretical and their truth or falsehood may never be proven. Still, so long as our curiosity remains, we will never stop searching for answers.
This is why most people turn to religion. It may not give the kind of concrete answers you would expect from science or mathematics, but it provides a comfort in knowing that our existence has more of a purpose than just living, and then dying. Faith breeds hope, which isn’t such a bad thing to have in this day and age.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of philosophical insight for the day. I found this to be most helpful for my midterm studying; the act of explaining things to others forces you to organize the information in a way that is also more understandable for yourself. It shows you just how much you know the topic, and where your weaknesses are. This is a useful study tip that I have found to be most helpful.
That’s all for today. Keep your mind open to the possibilities of the universe, and as always, happy reading!