Mention philosophy or the meaning of life to the average person on the street, and you’re likely to receive a few strange looks.
For many people, the majority of their exposure to such content is restricted to obscure footnotes in books most laypeople never read. However, I believe philosophy and related disciplines have everything to do with everyday life.
I want to motivate people to be inquisitive about what there is to know and gain knowledge about theology, philosophy and science—fields that inform each other and us on the nature of human existence.
These three fields tend to remain largely ignored by vast populations to the peril of a more enriched life. There is true significance and, yes, controversy to be understood among the world’s intellectual disciplines.
There’s a reason why Millennials frequently post quotes on social media from Martin Luther King, Jr., Plato, and other existentialists and religious leaders. As the lucky inheritors of the thoughts of these intellectual and spiritual giants, we can learn something deep about ourselves.
3 ways to find meaning
Here are three practical applications people—especially young people—gain from exploring the nature of human existence.
Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. ~Socrates
Embrace the power of education
The will of one teenage girl sent shockwaves throughout the world because of her thirst for an education and knowledge. Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, was shot by the Taliban at age 15 for her advocacy for education: “One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
Later, in a 2013 speech to the United Nations, she said, “I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists, especially the Taliban.” She knows that more education is the key to combating extremist ideologies. Education changes the world.
The unexamined life is not worth living. ~Socrates
Dive into philosophy
Philosophy challenges your intuition and helps people understand one another.
Would you believe that there’s ample drama in philosophy? There is, and it has played out in academia for centuries; and still does today in fun and informal podcasts. The more you know, the more you get into these philosophical soap operas. With a basic foundation, you can find yourself amidst the drama of debate. Ultimately, you walk away with a clearer picture of how others reason and feel.
Philosophy can cultivate a deep sense of empathy and compassion. This fosters an emotional intelligence that’s useful in all aspects of a person’s life, including family matters, continued learning, a future career and spiritual ponderings.
The only thing I know is that I know nothing. ~Socrates
Improve how to think and decide for yourself
I’m particularly sensitive to the needs of inquisitive young people who are trying to find their voices. I dove into philosophy in my teens because I wanted a clearer picture of life’s significance. Unfortunately, philosophy, theology, and even science remain shrouded in obscurity, with abstractions upon abstractions and esoteric terminology. I want these fields to be accessible.
On news channels and ads there’s the meme, “You decide!” Much of the time, however, young minds are guided by historical ideas for which they understand little or no context.
A background in philosophy and related fields, however, enables minds of all ages to dig deeper, connect concepts, realize how they truly feel within themselves, and create a meaningful life.
A foundational understanding of these intellectual domains is ultimately empowering to the young flowering mind and brings clarity to more mature thinking.
True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us. ~Socrates
Today’s guest contributor is Dean Chavooshian, author of The Pursuit of Wisdom. After earning a degree in Theology/Philosophy, Dean received a Master’s in architecture and worked over 30 years with prominent New York architectural firms and international real estate developers.
Image source before quote: Pixabay