The Daily Stoic for the 1st of March: “Where philosophy begins”
“An important place to begin in philosophy is this: a clear perception of one’s own ruling principle.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.26.15
Philosophy never interested me when I was in high school.
My introduction to philosophy was reading Plato’s allegory of the cave. To be honest, after going through it, I thought: “Pffff, what a brain fart”. Nonetheless, I studied them all: Plato and Socrates, Descartes and his Dualism, Kant and his categorical imperative… Everyone of them.
They all seemed to me like guys who instead of working or doing something productive with their time, had devoted their lives to come with crazy ideas about things. Actually, the only one that resonated with me was Friedrich Nietzsche, but just because as an atheist teenager, Nihilism had a great impact on me.
Still, I thought Nietzsche was as crazy as the rest.
In that sense, I had the same feeling that with superheroes, or famous people. I just couldn’t identify myself with any of them.
Where Philosophy Begins
For me, philosophy, like art or music, is something subjective. I’ve composed minimalist music for ten years, but I don’t consider myself an artist or a composer. Those are terms that others assign to you, not something you assign to yourself. I just made music.
Similarly, I don’t think you “become” a philosopher. A philosopher is someone who spent a lot of time thinking weird things and a lot more time putting them on paper… and was lucky enough to be credited for it. In that sense, I can certainly agree with the conclusion from today’s stoic:
“Epictetus is saying that one becomes a philosopher when they begin to exercise their guiding reason and start to question the emotions and beliefs and even language that others take for granted”
In my view, your thoughts and your way of seeing the world, based on your experiences, are as valid as Descartes’ or Plato’s.
That’s where philosophy begins. Your philosophy.
Then you discover different things, like Buddhism, meditation, mindfulness, stoicism, Kant and Descartes yes, but also Lennon and Morrison, Cortazar and Machado… and you get the best of them and add that to your own repertoire.
Today’s Daily Stoic, discusses how philosophy begins within ourselves, by analyzing our desires, emotions and beliefs.
I can agree to that. I never thought the famous philosophers had discovered any kind truth. In my mind, they were just regular guys that wrote about their special way of seeing things, and their teachings resonated with a lot of other people.
This probably sounds like an idiocy or even an heresy for any Philosophy Scholar. I’m stoically OK with that. 🙂