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Even though it is considered as one of the oldest sciences or fields of human knowledge and practices, philosophy just like many other areas of disciplines still torments its believers as to what really it means. The fact that this field of human knowledge has existed for over two thousand years, has not made it any easier for understanding or closer to harmony among the thousands of its adherents. Perhaps I would agree that it is among the hardest things to define and express in explicit words what really philosophy means. Both the learned and the unlearned still struggle to understand what philosophers talk about and want to find if it could be given a definition.
Different philosophical schools have different perceptions of philosophy. The dilemma grows bigger and bigger and the question arises whether ever such times will come when men will arrive at a definite conclusion. Nothing is harder than a situation where a settlement is required, but all the participants believe that they are right in their own different views. In such a case, the battle boils down between the strong and determined and those who have felt exhausted and cannot sustain the argument: they just surrender and abandon the discussion. A situation where everyone considers himself to be right usually ends when the least interested in the argument yield to the so called ‘talented in the battle of words’.
I believe that philosophy is, if to put in simpler terms, is an art in which everyone contributes his/her own wildest imaginations or perceptions of a thing or an idea and imagines how certain things work or explains phenomena, and all the adherents of the ideas will have to live according to the inventor opinion. Philosophy is to believe that things are explained the way you have thought they can be and it attempts to make everyone obedient to such so called truth; however, this will only happen for as long as there is no other proof of things being done differently. Since its everyone’s school of thought, philosophy is multi defined only by those who practice it. I agree with Lev Shestov, the author of What is Philosophy, that it is hard to define this term.
Considering the great philosophers, such renowned men of thoughts like Socrates, Plato, Napoleon and the rest, and also appreciating the extent of their contribution in the modern social sciences, someone may not be left in doubt that these people lived in their own worlds with little or no harmony amongst their opinions.
Plato, for example, was a great philosopher and thinker, upon whose ideological pillars was that the problem with humanity was simply the moral behaviour, and that when subjected to better moral training and justice, man would live a better life. Plato wanted to uphold justice and do everyone good. The very same justice he wanted to uphold is the same justice he defied and contravened when circumstances pressed him hard; it is interesting to see that certain philosophical opinions are held by people only for as long as there is no opportunity for trial. Much of Plato’s stories could be witnessed in the history of Carl Marx, who also thought that the people’s chief problem was just morality and that if trained, everyone would be a good person. However, it appears that a person’s chief problem is inborn and it lies in what he/she is rather than what he/she does; person’s deeds could not change him/her for better. It is said about Schopenhauer that his philosophical beliefs in virtues were only in books: he went about preaching the gospel of a virtuous society, while in his daily life he himself became too cruel and unjust contravening the vary ideas upon which his philosophy rests.
Even religionists disagree on the nature and character of their gods whom they worship; each camp is right in their defence of what they do. All claim that their deity is superior and all-powerful; all the gods, according to major religions, have some sort of an evil opposing power, which must be fought and eliminated. Be it the Christian Bible, the Islamic Quran or any other religion creed, they all have their own order of belief; each claimed that their belief is the right and that their philosophy is correct; even atheists have their beliefs, who in this case will agree or accept that their philosophy is not correct. Surely, there is no one answer and so philosophy is undefined by any religious thinking.
Considering Napoleon, the Frenchman of his time, what did he do? This was a man who attempted to bring the whole of the world under his dominion and nearly did that. Napoleon, whose philosophy was never to surrender and give up, never knew life without the gun and always walked as a conqueror; he is described as a man who did not fear pestilence, disaster or bullet. However, when he was faced with a capture, he feared and trembled at the point of a gun; when followed to the dark room custody, Napoleon Bonaparte, a great conqueror of all the people, was shivering and looking miserable; who could imagine that. Philosophy is, therefore, a temporary ideology of a time, usually a time of convenience, before the ideological theories are tested. It is like a resort of thinking for times when things are still working in favour of the opinions we hold.
Considering the great philosophers like Socrates and the rest, most of their philosophical arguments were base on human experiences and observations in life. They had seen a lot for long times and so they could be able to draw conclusions; however, the question remains as to how possible it is for two individual livings in two different geographic environments, who go through different experiences, to develop the same theories in life and conclusions; this would mean that these people are not different. It is clear that even among the philosophers there exists a disharmony among their stands; they draw different conclusion about their different experiences. It, therefore, emerges that we can only have schools of thoughts according to these people; everyone has his/her own conclusion about life, and those who can agree with that way of thinking would be called his students or adherents. It could be possible that someone’s theoretical perspective of life may be attractive to a given group of individual, however, to some extent, this can demonstrate a lack of one’s personal stands or perspectives in life: that is why he subscribes to one’s school of thought.
Some people also look at the wider knowledge that can be learned in schools as at some form of philosophy, because in some way they are based on individual theories. This is where the science differs from all other fields of knowledge: in science, things are investigated or tested and proven. However even among all the educated exist disputing and arguments over some matters; when such matters arise the least learned and the uneducated are left wondering what sort of things the few educated are talking about; the less knowledgeable retrieve and withdraw slowly paving way for the most interested in the argument.
This difference in the levels of interest also makes it hard for philosophy. Still there are those who think they can live without boggling their minds with whether philosophy helps them or not.
Even reading the Russian philosopher Lev Shestov comments on philosophy, we can see that he did not fully decide which side to take. He, having investigated the opinions and the behaviours of the renowned philosophers, is rather unready to give a description of what philosophy is about; he is of the opinion that it is dependent on the person.
To conclude, as for me, it is better not to entirely agree or disagree with the opinions of the Russian philosopher or others, but rather to be perspective and rational. I would rather say that philosophers have shown open disagreement among their different philosophical ideologies, and even among the learned there still exist gaps in opinions; it is, therefore, true that there is no single settlement as per what philosophy truly is.
For some people, philosophy is described as an art, but just an art for art’s sake. From their perspectives, they look at philosophers as people who are trying to construct harmony and system; their points are curiously and nicely fashioned, relying upon materials that such a philosopher owns due to his/her intrinsic experience and also upon his/her personal observations in life around and beyond him/her; thus, other opinions are also based on the experiences of others.
It may, therefore, have to take a little longer time for most of us to come to the agreement of what philosophy is all about. In my opinion, philosophy is merely dependent upon ones particular kind of opinions based on their experience and views about life.
In order to bring harmony and unison among the philosophers, we have to bring at first all the interest groups on board: the learned and the unlearned, the educated and the uneducated, the interested and the non-interested. Attempts have to be made to develop the interest of all the people, to make them see the value and the impact of such a branch of science on human life. It is only after this grand effort, the use of philosophy as an ideology only at times of convenience will be eliminated. Philosophers will be able to live according to their talks. As for me, there is still no definition for true philosophy.