Philosophy and Psychology, Equality and Liberty, Imagination and Reality, Arts and Science, Self or The Whole, Atheist or a Believer, Mind or Matter, Life and Death- These are not just phrases but questions to me, the questions that baffle me to my wits end. And then there is the ever lingering question – “What is the ultimate aim of this Human Life?”
Recently I acquired a book by the name “The story of Philosophy”. It takes us through the development of western philosophy through the ages. I, being fascinated by the French Revolution, turned straight to Voltaire – the heart, soul and the mind of The Renaissance. Though he never fought the war, it was he who sowed the seeds of change – all by the might of his pen. And by the time I had read it, I could sense a connection between his and my ideas about psychology, philosophy and humanity in general. And it brought back all these questions to the fore which had forever been lingering in the back of my mind.
One question to which every one has an answer of their own is “What is the meaning of this Life?” Every one is entitled to an opinion but none of it the complete truth. There are different sects of philosophy which answer these questions in their own way and each seems true enough. The meaning and the motive of life – it all seems so deceptive. Some wise man even said “if we start looking for the meaning of life, we stop living life “. He could be right for many a man has tried to undertake the path and not many have succeeded (this is related to another question – “the self or the whole” meaning a thousand lives were wasted (or invested) for the discovery and the achievement of one man. Was it worth it?”). But those who did succeed definitely changed the course of history or at least gave a new direction to humanity and how we think. The praises could go on for pages and the critics can babble their hearts out. But we know we are not interested in either.
Philosophy and Psychology are somehow deeply related. Every doubt of mine here is either of these. And no matter what or how much I think every one of them ends in another doubt or question.
Equality and/or Liberty – this is just a part of philosophy because no state has been able to achieve both at the same time. If it were achieved, Utopia (Plato’s main theme work) would come true. The world has seen instances where one of them was sacrificed for the other. America is a land of opportunity and liberty but not equality. USSR implemented Equality via force and took away all liberty. And not all men in these lands are happy. I guess all of us understand liberty because it is centric to all forms of life. Equality has many aspects – material, power, opportunity and education. But to me the most important is equality of education (not just literacy, information and knowledge but wisdom too) because it has the potential to bring the liberation of man from the shackles of a sub-human life. These issues could be better dealt with if Philosophers were kings or Kings were philosophers. But Utopia is a dream after all.
Atheist or a Believer- this again is a tricky question. Personally I do not believe in religion but am divided on the existence of God. One thing that goes in favor of God is – How did this universe (big bang and stuff) come into being? What caused this universe to come into being and what created Life? Even science has just one answer – God. But there is no proof to his /her existence either. It’s all a belief; a deep rooted one at that. Just another crazy theory on this line – God is mans single best invention.
About Science and Arts I have just one thing to say- I believe that science is for the sustenance of life and art for the sustenance of the soul.
Imagination and reality –it’s a question for the educators. But they don’t really see the importance of it. Imagination is what propels us ahead – it sows the seeds of Ideas. But for the idea to be really fruitful it should be based on truths. It’s a deep rooted problem but I believe that no matter what Imagination of the young mind should not be curbed.
Mind or Matter- this is related to how we live our life. By mind I mean happiness, joy and intellectual development and by matter I mean materialistic things and achievements. A certain amount of matter is needed for a comfortable living and to fulfill some of our psychological needs. Mind alone cannot fetch us all our needs. But an excess of matter had been found to bring troubles of its own – like the loss of peace of mind. It is a personal choice hence better left at that.
Self or the Whole- this is again a deep psychological question. Why does a human being exist – to live a good life of his own or for the betterment of the others? Ayn Rand in her philosophy of Objectivism professes the former and lashes out at the later. She sees the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. She is totally against altruism. I don’t really know the truth but looking at the whole picture we are no one. In the total history of man we have a life span of a few years. We do know where we came from but have no idea where we are heading to. But the intention has to be making the present and the future better. After all we just are a link in the chain (of humanity) – the ends of which are unknown to us. All of us contribute to the chain – some make themselves stronger, some try to make others strong. Which one to chose is a million dollar question to me.
Life and Death. Steve Jobs says “Death is the destiny that we all share.” Yet most of us are afraid of death. No one wants to die. We fail to realize that we can’t beat it. Instead the best we can do is -make the best of this life. I believe that if we live each day as it comes, and make the best of each day we would have done our best. As for life itself – we consider it to be so complex yet understanding life is deceptively simple. Life comprises majorly of work, people and our emotions. I believe that if we do our work with unflinching honesty and keep our emotions simple (true to our natural and uncorrupted selves) we can be truly happy, we will attain Bliss and it is then that the fear of death is gone. I guess I am still trying to bring honesty to my work. Ironically I don’t even understand the true nature of the work that I will be happy doing.
All this has gotten really big by now and I’ll wind up with the original question. What makes me write this? Have I overshot my years? Have I gotten too philosophical for my age (my mom and sis will vouch for that)? Do I understand life better having asked myself these questions? The answer is yes. The answer is - Life is simple and Life is Beautiful.