encounter love

Why Bother?

1:24:00 PMlindsay russell


The first time I took a Philosophy class, I had no idea what to expect.  The class was Metaphysics, and the subject matter was a complete mystery to me.  The only thing I thought I knew about philosophy was that everyone was supposed to have one. I identified philosophy as the code by which a person lived their life, whatever fortune-cookie catch phrase they could apply to every life situation. 

Now, I see philosophy as the undercurrent to which my life flows, but I don’t see it as an arbitrary choice, I see it as the truth.

At times, when I tell people that my major is philosophy, they seem to think that I spend class times trying to answer impossible questions.  Could God create a stone that he couldn’t lift?  If a tree falls down in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  Why did the chicken cross the road?  To them, this is a meaningless pastime.  But Philosophy is not about these trite questions, it is about issues that affect everyone on a fundamental level.
My very first Philosophy teacher began the class by informing us that “Philosophy”, as translated from the original Greek, means “love of wisdom”.  I thought that was a beautiful sentiment, but I didn’t really know what it meant.  Love itself is a difficult concept to grasp; it can only really be understood by experience.  As I get older, I learn more about what this means.  Love is active, it pursues. It is a conscious, constant effort to care for and improve relationships.
Wisdom is also something to be experienced.  

As a young student, with very little experience, I was daunted by the idea of striving for such a lofty goal.  Most other subjects endeavor to impart knowledge, but Philosophy endeavors to impart wisdom.  However, my teacher claimed that the first step to wisdom is to admit that you do not know anything. This is an easy step for me; I freely admit that I have an awful lot to learn.
So what am I doing? 

What am I learning about in class?  If love and wisdom can only be experienced, why am I investing time and money into studying this topic in school? I study Philosophy in order to identify Truth when I encounter it.  I am pursuing Truth.  To know what actually is, is my real aim.  To do so, I must be able to recognize when I find it.

Training in this area may not seem necessary, but it is.  Any moviegoer can talk about what they thought of a film.  They can express their impressions and opinions, but we still look to movie critics for a more refined outlook.  Why? Because they are trained.  They have studied film; they can recognize and express certain motifs and subtleties that most people vaguely perceive.  This seems like a subtle difference, but applied to Philosophy, it means a lot.

One of the ways that learning about Philosophy has changed me is in the way I interact with people.  I consider myself to be rather introverted, so I often find myself avoiding conversations and interactions with people, particularly strangers.  I’ve always known that everyone is unique and that everyone matters, but I had never really understood the depths of this truth until I began to study Philosophy.  Reading, thinking, and conversing about the unrepeatability of persons has given me a different perspective.  I’m still an introvert, but my consideration of these truths has caused me to be more open to interpersonal interactions.  I’ll smile at someone when I walk by instead of avoiding their eye or chat with someone I know instead of just saying ‘Hi’.  

Actively thinking about the intrinsic value of people has given me a greater appreciation for them.

Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom, of Truth.  I am so grateful for my studies.  Through this major, I get to struggle with ideas that have been considered for centuries.  But this kind of training is not just for students, it’s paramount for everyone.  Books, blogs, articles, talks, seminars:
these are all tools that we can use to study Philosophy outside the classroom.  It is important to have proper training in this area to recognize that which we experience.  If we cannot recognize the truth when we encounter it, then experience is useless in this area.


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Lindsay Russell

I am an aspiring Philosopher. I like to think about philosophy underlying daily life. I love dark chocolate, red wine, Tim Horton's Iced Capps and pickles. I love to travel and I want to see the Northern Lights before I die. I once bought a car I couldn't drive. 

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