The Complexity of Philosophy

MICHAEL 1

What makes philosophy interesting is the arguments and theses defended by philosophers in various domains of research interest. However, what remains as a puzzle at times is whether those brilliant and influential ideas defended by these thinkers can be understood by everybody.

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Are Philosophprenotion Philosophers? A Philosopher is anyone who has a profound passion for wisdom and seeks ways to attain it. Narrow is the way which leads to wisdom and broad is the way to appearance, deception and prejudices. What makes philosophy interesting is the arguments and theses defended by philosophers in various domains of research interest. However, what remains as a puzzle at times is whether those brilliant and influential ideas defended by these thinkers can be understood by everybody. Is philosophy a sequence of rational reflection reserved only for thinkers? What provokes this questioning is the fact that most philosophers forget the fact that their ideas need to be simplified and well-elaborated for non-philosophers to be able to understand. Philosophy is one of the disciplines which people attach many prejudices to. Some of this prejudices include: “philosophers are mad persons”, “philosophers can turn black into white”, “philosophers always argue”, “philosophers always take a unique path away from that of the society” etc. These prejudices result from the fact that the concept of philosophy is not well-grasped, especially by the common man or someone ignorant about the subject matter. These views are prejudices (prenotions) because they don’t represent in any way what philosophy really is. Pythagoras, an Ancient Greek thinker (around 600 B.C.) was the first person to use the word philosophy and to call himself a philosopher. He likened philosophers to pursuers of wisdom, and to spectators at ancient games. Diogenes Laertius quotes him by saying: “…when Leon, the tyrant of Philius, asked him who he was, he said, “A Philosopher,” and that he compared life to the Great Games, where some went to compete for prize and others went with wares to sell, but the best as spectators; for similarly, in life, some grow up with servile natures, greedy for fame and gain, but the Philosopher seeks for truth.” 1 This, therefore, implies that what preoccupies a philosopher so much is truth and wisdom. Pythagoras here did not mean that he was a wise person. Still, simply 1 Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, VIII, 8, tr. R. D. Hicks(Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1925) that he was a lover of wisdom.
In other words, a philosopher is someone who loves to know, and by so doing, he/she must ask questions and reflect deeply on some critical issues of life to provide solutions to them. From the definition of a philosopher, we can understand that not everyone can be considered a philosopher since they are some people who instead claim to be wise and not lovers of wisdom. What remains preoccupying is the question of whether a philosophical enquiry is reserved only for philosophers or is it a concern for everybody? Philosophers are problem solvers. They identify problems in all domains of activities, study them well, understand them and try to provide rational solutions to them. However, if those solutions provided are not well understood by society, it can quickly end up as a new problem than a real solution. Since the Ancient period to present, philosophers have been trying earnestly to understand underlying and deep problems to provide solutions to them.
Most often, though their Ideas seem good, must of them express them in a more obscure manner. Their choice of words, terms, make it difficult for a common man to understand their ideas hence, making philosophy very difficult. According to Philosophers like Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Henri Bergson, and Hegel, not everybody can understand philosophy. Only a few courageous persons can study philosophy. Most of these philosophers use difficult terms such as; the Nous (Anaxagoras), Logos (Heraclitus), the Good (Plato), the Prime mover (Aristotle), the One (Plotinus), the Apeiron (Anaximenes), the Absolute Spirit (Hegel), the Transcendental Ergo (Edmund Husserl), the Pineal gland (Rene Descartes), Conatus (Spinoza), Dasein (Martin Heidegger), etc. However, if we remain connected to the definition given above on philosophy, we will understand that philosophy is a discipline like any other one and can be studied by anyone willing and ready. Philosophy is centred on questioning, arguments, critical evaluation for better research. Therefore, in order to embark into a quest in philosophy, one need to equally develop the passion for knowledge and how to promote it. In all domains of activities, we can find wisdom in each specific domain. In sciences, tradition, culture, religion, Environment, history etc. therefore, developing a deep passion for understanding the quality of wisdom reasonably found in those domains can be considered as philosophy. Hence, the prenotions attached to philosophy should not be promoted since it holds to ground. The quest for knowledge or wisdom is not limited to particular people, but the task of everyone willing to do so.

By Nginyu Levis

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