More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Philosophy 101 By Dr Thanh Ph(aic) D(octor)

I had commented on Trev's I Am Superb blog that I would write a post about philosophy soon. Well its probably been more than a month since I posted that comment but I feel I know a little bit more now and am ready to write my opinion.

If you had said the word philosophy to me six months ago, I would have said its all wishy washy words by people who spend all day overthinking things and over analysing every situation. Well, I have come to change my mind a bit about it all. Don't get me wrong, I am not, and will never be a philosopher, but I don't mind some philosophical thinking now and then.

What started me off on this whole philosophy quest (hmmm, quest is probably not the right word quest since I wasn't really searching for anything, just wanting to learn more, so maybe journey is more appropriate?) was my friend John constantly telling me about all these philosophical sayings and how we can learn from it. Then one day, I also found that my manager Ron is quite a deep thinker himself and has a vast knowledge of philosophy. We were talking about existentialism that particular day and it was a very interesting topic to me. So I decided to go away and do some research on Wikipedia, one of the most useful self learning tools out there. My initial search of existentialism led to more and more topics as I clicked on the links. So I decided that I wanted to know more and went to the library and borrowed some fundamental philosophy books to give myself a crash course in philosophy and famous philosophers.

In my opinion, as thats all it is since I really don't know much about philosophy, I now think that philosophy can be another useful tool in life. It won't be my guiding light but just another attachment in my Swiss Army Knife for life. What philosophy teaches you is to really think about different situations and question them. If you've ever asked yourself "Why am I here" or "What am I doing here, what is my purpose", then you're probably a good candidate for philosophy too. Philosophy may never give you all the answers, but it does make you think about them and make up your own mind. You can never know anything definitively, but as long as what you think satisfies you, well that's good enough in my opinion.

Philosophy is such an old practise and we tend to underestimate it's importance. I certainly did since I always believed myself to be a man of science and there was no room for science and philosophy to co-exist. But that is where I am wrong. In the past, the philosophers were also the scientists. Before humans could travel in space or see individual atoms, there were already great men who could truly "think outside the square" and theorise about the ways of the world. It was philosophers who thought that the Earth rotated around the Sun and that atoms made up all matter in the world. They had no way to prove these things but were clever enough to come to these conclusion through thinking.

The forefather of Philosophy is definitely Socrates. Socrates always tried to make people think a situation through by answering their question with a question. He is to have said "I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others". He contributed to many facets of society from ethics and morality to politics.

As the time passed, more and more philosophers came up with different ideas as to how people should live their life or how the world works. Eventually, it was Aristotle who set up the stage for what is to become later day science. He divided topics into clear groups such as physics and biology and said that the study of phenomena would lead to the essence of how things work. Centuries later, these thoughts would be used by other philosophers who would help to create science as we know it.

It was then probably Newton who made the greatest leap forward for science. He was a natural philosopher but at the same time also a physicists, astronomer, mathematician and alchemist. His development of fundamental laws of nature helped to give a strong foundation for all future work in the area of science. To this day, his laws of motion are still relevant for interactions on Earth.

So as you can see, philosophical thinking can help you to assess things in a more profound way and maybe see things in a slightly differnt light. It will take a great man to truly think outside what is already known, but thinking about small issues in your own life may give you answers that will satisfy you.

I will leave you with Rene Descartes most famous quote "I think, therefore I am". He theorised that the only thing you can ever truly be sure of is what you think. Your senses may decieve you, but your thoughts are your own and must be true. Hopefully, this post has left you thinking a little and you might delve a little deeper into philosophy as well.


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