My intention in writing this article is to give you some things to think about and to create a context for thinking about how you think.
I have not written it in order to tell you what to think, but rather to give you some things to think about.
My advice is to read vulnerably, not critically. Give less of your attention to the words on the page and more to where the words can take you. Follow your own understanding, not mine.
Reason 1. – WE ASSUME THE WORLD IS THE WAY IT APPEARS TO BE.
We look out at the world, and we assume that it is the way it appears to be. It’s not. The world may be the way it is, but our
perception of it is seldom completely accurate and probably never will be. The world doesn’t just exist; it appears to
us–and the way it appears is not necessarily the way it is. Knowing this is really important.
Reason 2. – YOU MAY NOT BE WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE.
We think we are a “something”—an entity that emerged in the universe on a planet called Earth. Are we really?
What is a human being? What am I? Am I my body, my brain, my thoughts? Superficially, it seems that we are simply some
combination of all of these things and more. When you look deeply, the simple question, Who am I? reveals mind boggling complexity.
What we are most responsible for is the person that we have become, a person based on the choices that we ourselves have freely made.
Reason 3. – WE DON’T KNOW AND YET WE HAVE TO ACT AS IF WE DO.
Every step we take, every action, every choice to do anything is ultimately an act of faith. Most of the time, thankfully, we live
with an ongoing sense of certainty. We imagine that the world is predictable enough to support us.
Then there are those moments in which everything gets swept away. We lose a job, we crash a car, a loved one passes, and we
realize that nothing was ever certain. And yet we have to act as if it is or live paralyzed by doubt.
Our attempts to understand the universe are akin to standing on a beach for a few hours peering through a drinking straw
and then drawing conclusions about the nature and history of life on Earth.
Reason 4. – THE CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND US ARE CHANGING FASTER THAN WE CAN.
The world and everything in it is changing all the time, and our beliefs about it all must change at least as quickly. Often they don’t.
We find ourselves stuck in beliefs whose time has passed, not knowing which questions to ask or what direction to take forward.
The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way man thinks. We base our actions on our understanding of the nature of reality and the way the world works. That understanding is partly made up of our consciously held beliefs about what is true, but much more so by unconsciously held convictions about what is true. To the extent that our convictions about
what is true are inaccurate we will find ourselves unable to respond appropriately to our challenges and problems. And it is the work of philosophical introspection that allows us to bring awareness to our unconscious assumptions so that they may be examined, altered, or discarded completely. Many of our world’s greatest challenges are symptoms of an overarching evolutionary crisis. This overarching crisis is
caused by the fact that the circumstances of our world are changing at a faster and faster pace, and human beings are not able to keep up. Our problems seem to be compounding because we are not able to respond adequately to one crisis before the next arises, and then there is another and another. We sometimes feel like we are being buried under a pile of insurmountable problems.
Adapted from “Philosophy Is not a Luxury”