April 11, 2008

Kant Philosophize Enough

Posted in Life tagged , at 1:01 am by Lindsay

Sorry for the title.  I couldn’t help it.

I was fortunate enough to have room in my schedule for a philosophy course during my sophomore year of college.  Philosophy was much more interesting, and more relevant than I had expected.  Sure, it can be somewhat passive and abstract at times, but I think the more you know about philosophy, the more you see it in your daily life.  I guess that’s true with most studies. 

In my class, we watched films like “The Matrix” and “American Beauty” and discussed how elements of Plato and Descartes were present in the stories.  The end of semester project was the most interesting – we had to write a paper outlining our own personal philosophies.  It can be really difficult to try to define yourself in five pages, but I found it to be a poignant exercise.  It’s as close to a life plan as I think you can get.  I wish I still had mine that I prepared for that class (it was lost forever when my hard drive decided to implode a few years ago – and no, I still don’t backup even though that was one of the most annoying and inconvenient things ever).  I wonder if my personal philosophy has changed since then. 

I know you’re saying that if it was really my life philosophy, I certainly should remember what it was.  Well that’s kind of my point.  Unless you occasionally step back and take the time to flesh out what your personal philosophy really is, how can you tell if you’re following it?  Most likely, all of us have a discrepancy between the philosophy that we want to have and the philosophy that we practice on a daily basis.  Think of yourself as a “seize the day”-type person?  Tell me when was the last time you practiced carpe diem.  Are you still thinking?  Maybe that’s not really your philosophy.  Or maybe that is your philosophy and you just need to be more conscious about it. 

I realize that the laws of human nature mean that there’ll always be a difference between what we are and what we want to become.  That’s life.  But here’s my challenge to you: take some time – take 15 minutes and put together a rough outline of what your personal philosophy might be.  Don’t try to be all-encompassing.  This is a huge question and probably a never-ending one at that.  I’m not asking you the meaning of life.  The easiest way to get started is to think about someone you admire.  What attitudes and traits do they have that helped earn your admiration?  Then you can take it back to you.  How do you approach situations?  What strategies do you use to deal with things?  What things or concepts do you value? 

Or, if this is getting a little too abstract for you, think about your favorite quotes.  You know, the ones you put on your facebook page or have on a poster in your room.  Chances are, these quotes sum up part of your personal philsophy.  That’s why you like them.  So use those as a starting point and try to expand on them a little.

When you try this, let me know how it goes.  As I write, I’m reaching for my collected Oscar Wilde to fish for some quotes to get me started… 

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1 Comment »

  1. Eric said,

    I came to this site through the nevereatalone blog. I recently started the book and it is amazing. In case you’re wondering why I’m commenting here instead of on an entry pertaining to the actual book, well let’s just say your blog is really captivating. I love reading your thoughts and ideas. Especially this entry, I just had to respond to.

    See, I’m a college student myself, just finished with my sophomore year at UC Berkeley. I’m in the midst of my sophomore summer where all of my friends are off taking summer classes, or at some internship. And me, I’m at home, scoping out some good reads (like Ferrazzi’s book, or this blog), trying to do exactly what you discussed in this entry – discover myself and figure out where I want to go. I look at my friends, my classmates, and I’d wager that the vast majority of them never stopped to think about who they are or where they’re going. They’re at their classes or internships because they felt they’re “supposed to”. I don’t want to do that; I don’t want to look back 10 years from now stuck in a profession that I hate just because everyone else is doing it. Sorry, I’m getting tangential. I just wanted to commend you and thank you for this thought-provoking read (:


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