Have you ever looked at a world map, stared at an expansive bookcase, or even scrolled through Netflix, and just been absolutely floored at how much the world has to offer you? This happens to me approximately ten million times a day.
There’s always something different that catches my eye and smacks me with this realization, and with it comes motivation. What can I find out today that will help me better understand life tomorrow? There are so many dots to connect. I constantly feel that whenever I learn something new, I always hear it in conversation or the media within 24 hours. Maybe this phenomenon is a mixture of selective hearing and confirmation bias, but regardless, I think it’s outstanding. Recently, this has been happening based on what I’ve been learning in my philosophy class, and I absolutely love it.
I’m taking Intro to Philosophy here at AAU, and it’s kind of rearranging my entire world. I know that that’s a little dramatic, but it’s true. The study of our changing identities, and the difference between the mind and everything that depends on the mind to exist is fascinating to me. There are ideas that my professor brings up that I have been ruminating on for years, and never knew were the main points of anyone’s life teachings. For example, I’ve always wondered if my senses perceive things the same way that those of others do, and if there are discrepancies in our descriptions that we’d never even recognize since we can’t see into anyone else’s minds. It’s one of those ideas that’s probably common to wonder about at some point, but we don’t really know who to ask. Who would even know the answer to that question? That should really be the course description for every philosophy class ever.
I like learning about philosophy for several reasons. Primarily, I’ve been hearing old guy names like Plato and Aristotle for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never been able to tell you what their ideas were, except maybe by a lucky guess on a multiple choice test in tenth grade World History. But after actually reading excerpts from their written works and trying to decipher the meanings, the ideas of each individual stick with you more. This is because, while their minds may have been brilliant, they were not Pulitzer Prize level writers or anything. So, trying to figure out their points through the jumbled paragraphs is a bit of a task, and once you actually understand these encrypted meaningful truths, it’s not something you forget easily.
Another reason I enjoy the class is because many of the philosophers that we study, like Descartes, Hume, and Sartre to name a few, were so much more than “thinkers.” Before I elaborate on that, let me just say that there’s another example of something I’ve always wondered about philosophers: Was their profession literally just to think? Did they bring home any bread just by pondering sh-t? Because, I sit and do nothing but think freely all the time, and I don’t see any pay stubs in my mailbox. But, as it turns out, most of them weren’t just philosophers— they were also astronomers, physicists, historians, or humanitarians. I really like the concept of that. How can one person be versed in so many subjects? Their awareness of that many of spheres of knowledge was causing their ideas to uproot society, enlighten the masses, and make them famous for their opinions about how we discover truths. It makes me wish I had a professional knack for ten different subjects like it’s no big deal. I would like to be the advertising major who’s also an encyclopedia of Greek mythology, knows your entire world literature reading list backwards and forwards, and can explain quantum physics without consulting Siri. Will that ever happen? Hold on, she’s fetching the answer right now.
Now that I’m learning about all these different schools of thought and who perpetuated each one, I feel like I interpret every situation with whoever’s mindset applies best. I end up wondering what these dudes would think of certain people’s perceptions on things, and then judge accordingly. Not out loud, mind you; I’m certainly not one to rest my chin in my palm and preach about the romance of western philosophy while dusting off my monocle and quizzing the sommelier. I would, however, love to just throw some ideas around with anyone who’s into that! But until then, I’ll just stick to my professor who I can always count on to be enthusiastic about existentialism.