WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8651

Date uploaded in London – – – –9 SEPTEMBER 2020   

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Philosophy by slow degrees!

Prince Siddhartha noticed old age, disease, death. Inquiring into their nature and origin, he concluded that life itself was suffering (Duhkha). This is a philosophical insight. He could have stopped there, but did not. He thought there should be some cause for this, and therefore a solution. Meditating and inquiring thus, Siddhartha found the cause and the solution, became the Buddha, the Enlightened. He thus gave us a complete philosophy of life.

Often in life, we do not sit and sort out our thoughts to weave them into a coherent philosophy. It just happens that there is some faculty in us that keeps track of these little things as they occur and leave their impressions on us and these form into our philosophy in course of time. This was expressed beautifully by Thomas Hardy:  

“Unadjusted impressions have their value, and the road to a true philosophy of life seems to lie in humbly recording diverse readings of its phenomena as they are forced upon us by chance and change.”

From: Preface to ‘Poems of the Past and the Present’, 1901.

In the course of our studies and reading, and interaction with peers in the workplace and others, through our teachers we do acquire many ideas and opinions. But these do not become a philosophy unless they touch something deeper in us than the mind. In this sense true philosophy is a reflection of our inner core, our soul and just not mere intellectual belief.

Viewed thus, modern philosophy is a terrible misnomer. They are all intellectual formulations, often empty words, mere sound and fury signifying nothing. If we know the kind of life many of these people lead, we will lose all respect for philosophy.

Philosophy in modern states

Can philosophy be practised in politics today as Plato meant it?  Impossible in modern democracies. Democracies are composite societies, which are often fractured  on ideological, ethnic, linguistic, and other lines. Rulers are elected through periodical elections, and it is not possible or practical to adopt a long term perspective, which a consistent philosophy would warrant. Even the same party in power is not consistent in policies.

Mass education has spread literacy, but not promoted true understanding of important issues. It has neither united minds nor hearts. The spread of academic specialisation has meant that even educated people do not understand matters across disciplines.

 [The ‘Two Cultures’ syndrome.] A physicist cannot be expected to readily comprehend tight money or economic growth. Educated people even in so called developed countries do not have a clear idea of the most pressing problems . To suggest a solution and build a consensus around it is almost impossible. We saw it in respect of Brexit in Britain recently.  Because the margin is narrow, the verdict is not accepted gracefully by the losers. How can a ruler with a philosophy, any philosophy, rule at all? The position of US is still worse. We are witnessing how hopeless the situation is in respect of global warming, nuclear waste etc. Modern education leads to dissent more easily than to unity of purpose. It is so easy to agitate against anything, even when we do not know the clear alternative!

                                    *                    to be continued

tags- philosophy in practice-2

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