I’m going to write this more casually than my other essays since it’s an introduction.
Philosophy is not the study of useless things that you will never use in your life. Lots of people think that, but that’s only a small part of what philosophy actually is. Philosophy is the study of why things are. Heres why this is important:
Let’s say you have nothing to do so you decide to eat a cake you have in the kitchen.
I come in and ask you “Why are you eating that cake?”
You say “Lol I don’t know”
Bull$#!%. Most of the time, you know why you do things, maybe subconsciously, but you still know why. Why do you know why? Because your brain generally doesn’t do things without a reason.
So I ask you, “What do you mean you don’t know?”
“No reason I guess. I was bored.”
“But then that’s the reason you’re eating cake: you’re bored.”
“Yeah. lol ;D”
“So if you’re bored, why are you eating cake?”
“Just something to do I gues-”
“NO, WHY IS EATING CAKE THE ACTION YOU CHOSE AS A RESULT OF BEING BORED?”
“I… guess it’s fun? O_O”
“So why are you doing something fun when you’re bored?”
“Because being bored means that you want to do something fun I guess? Ç_Ç”
“So you want to do something fun”
“Yes don’t hurt me plz”
“Ok I guess that explains why you’re eating my cake.”
So you see, you don’t do things for no reason. What the $%&# does that have to do with philosophy?
You see an insect in your kitchen. Most people in the West would step on it. Why? Because insects are dirty and could bring more insects in your house, and that’s unsanitary and would get in your way. Since you don’t want those things, you get rid of the bug.
OK, that makes sense I guess. But you didn’t really think that through.
Let’s say theres a fly that’s annoying you, so you swat it. So you’re telling me that when something mildly annoys you, you kill it? Most people wouldn’t kill a dog or a person that mildly annoys them, so why a fly? Because it’s small? Would you kill small people that annoy you too? Most people wouldn’t because those are still people with feelings and a life and ambitions and they’re intelligent and self aware, they deserve to live. Right? Well if you disagree you’re probaly a little sociopathic but that’s OK don’t hurt me please.
Ok, so what, the fly can’t recognise itself in a mirror so it doesn’t deserve to live?
It may be a $%&#~€¬ biological progammed machine that does nothing but eat, $#!%, sleep, and reproduce, but it’s still alive. You know how many things are alive? Not that many. Oh what you’re going to tell me that theres trillions if not more of livings things on Earth? YEAH? WELL WHAT ABOUT IN SPACE HUH? ON MARS? I DON’T SEE NO GODDAMN FLIES ON MARS! What about Jupite-NOPE! Ok fine, what about the next solar system ove-NOPE. So of all the known universe, the only places that we know there is life is on this planet. That’s a lot less than 1% of the universe. A lot.
Yeah the fly doesn’t know much and theres a lot more flies. You probably wouldn’t say the same thing about a dog though. Would you kill a dog that annoyed you? Again, sociopathy. But still don’t hurt me.
OK, so you’re telling me to be a hippie. No, just think a little about stuff.
Heres something that might be more applicable to you:
You go to a club on friday night. You drink a lot and dance and have a lot of fun. You get back at 6 AM and see your friends who stayed at home just finished playing a video game. What losers right? Playing a video game on a friday night?
WRONG ANSWER MOTHER “·$%&@. Heres the right answer:
You like going to clubs. Why? Let’s say it’s because you like dancing. Why do you like dancing? I don’t know, it’s just fun. OK, but think a little harder. Why is it fun? What makes it fun? Well, I like moving my body to the rhythm, it makes me feel good. OK, so you’re saying you want to feel good. Yes. Drugs make you feel good too, so you’d do drugs? NO! Why not? You said you want to feel good. Yes but drugs hurt you. OK so you want to feel good, but being healthy is more important than feeling good? Sure. So what about this drug that makes you feel good with no side effects? That doesn’t exist. Yes it does. No, it doesn’t. It’s right here. What the hell is that? It’s a drug that has no side effects. What? No way. Yeah. Try it. No, I’m not trying your random drug. Are you scared? Fine I’ll take the drug. No. What do you mean no? You offered me the drug. It was a test.
So would you take the drug? Sure I guess. So you’d take drugs because you want to feel good. Yes. So you’re a drug addict. Wha-. This is besides the point I was trying to make. The people playing videogames don’t like dancing, so why do you think they’re pathetic for not going dancing? Well they should like dancing. Why? Because it’s fun like I said. What if they don’t find it fun? How can they not find it fun? I find it fun, so they should too. Really? Yes. OK, so if you find something fun, it’s because that thing is fun for everyone. Yes. OK, so these people find playing videogames fun, therefore you should too. No videogames aren’t fun. Why? Because I played a game on my phone once and it wasn’t fun. OK but you’re a $%&# who doesn’t know about philosophy. What does that have to do wi-
People have different tastes. There is no objective measure that I know of to measure how fun something is. Different people find different things fun. THAT is philosophy. That’s also logic. Sometimes philosophy is logic, sometimes it’s emotional, sometimes it’s history, sometimes it’s science. Philosophy can be applied to anything. What is philosophy? It’s just thinking about why things are. Why should you think about why things are? Because unless you’re perfect, you think you know a lot of stuff that you don’t actually know. You don’t believe me? Then why do so many people disagree on so many things in this world?
Heres something really stupid that a lot of people say:
“It’s better not to think.”
Seriously? Of all the stupid things to say. You thought: Hey, thinking just makes things worse, and makes me stressed or sad. Are you really going to create a thought that tells yourself to stop thinking? If thoughts are so bad, then what about the thought you just had about how thinking is bad? How are you supposed to come up with “thinking is bad”, well, you THINK it. So what happens if you stop thinking. Well, basically you’re stuck with whatever facts and logic you have right now. And I can tell you that what you have probably isn’t all that correct or even good enough.
You think you’re good without thinking? How about I ask you a simple yet not so useful question. What are the only things you know for sure?
WRONG. What happens when we figure out a way to make people live forever? You think that won’t happen? What are you, a goddamn biologist? You don’t know that! How do you even know that everyone dies? Sure you might have seen a lot of people die, it might make sense because if not the world would be full of people, but you don’t KNOW that. Someone TOLD you that. How many people have you met? a couple thousand maybe? that’s not even 1% of the world population. For all you know there could be a lot of people who will never die. Maybe they’re just underground. I’m not saying they’re underground, I’m just saying that you don’t know.
OK fine, so I don’t know that for sure. So what?
So you can’t answer the question then. What do you know FOR SURE?
One of the right answers is that you know you exist. No, this isn’t just something trivial. This is why this is an absolutely truth:
Figure out what you know for sure. You know the sky is blue. Is it? Maybe you can’t see colors properly, and you just call it blue but everyone else sees it as green and calls it blue. Unlikely? Not at all. Think about it: how do you define blue? Well you can’t define the color the see, you can define the wavelength of light it is but that doesn’t explain what blue looks like. You see a color in two places, so does someone else, so you can both see the color and both agree that it’s called blue. What are they actually seeing as blue though? It could be what you see as a green. Let’s say you could see through their eyes for a moment. If they see green where you see blue, how could you possible know? You’ve seen it as blue your whole life and called it blue, he’s seen it a green his whole life and called it blue. Theres no way to know what they see unless you can see through their eyes. So the point is, you don’t know if the sky is blue. OK, fine, but it’s a color that I call blue. Is it though? How do you know the sky is there? OK, you get the point right? So let’s skip to the part where I ask you how do you know you’re even seeing it? Maybe you’re asleep. etc. etc. The point is you can’t tell whether or not any of this is real. You could be in the matrix or dreaming and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So you don’t if anything you see around you is real. So what do you know? Well, I know that I’m asking myself this question. How do you know that? Well because I’m answering it right now.
That is undeniable. I think.
“I think, therefore I am.”
That is philosophy. No really, Descartes said that. He was a philosopher. True story.
So the point is, you don’t know. You want another example?
“All couples fight. Fighting is healthy.” No, not all couples fight and fighting is not neccessarily healthy.
Heres an example of why philosophy is useful. You don’t have to fight. You should however, discuss things. Why do you fight? Because you have a disagreement. You don’t want to wash the dishes but she wants you to. The wrong thing to do is shout and argue. Most people think “argue” means to fight, but it doesn’t. An argument is an attempt to explain and justify something. It doesn’t have to be angry, or loud, or just two people saying what they think and not resolving anything.
What you’re supposed to do is explain why you don’t want to do the dishes. Like I said before, there has to be some reason. Maybe you’re lazy. OK, that makes sense. But the dishes have to be washed to eat on them eventually. Yeah but she can do them. Why her? Well she always does them. So she always should? Well no… So why can’t you do it instead of her? No reason, that’s why. So do your goddamn dishes. You ate my cake.
Communication is vital. That’s philosophy, and that’s also in every dating guide you’ll read in all your stupid girls’ magazines and MSN.com/love. Why? Because it makes sense and because philosophy is everywhere.
Heres some philosophy: Hedonists think that the point of life is to have fun. That’s a legitimate philosophy. I don’t think it’s right, but it’s a legitimate philosophy. Heres what I think: having fun is only worth it if it’s meaningful. The meaning of life has to have meaning. Fun alone doesn’t have meaning. Doing drugs makes you feel good, but that’s all that is, a meaningless feeling. True happiness doesn’t come from alcohol or drugs in your brain causing chemical reactions to make you feel good, it’s when theres a reason to feel good. It’s when you KNOW that you’re happy, not when you’re tryng to convince yourself that you are. True happiness is when you’re enjoying a day with your family because you love them and you’re making them happy because of things that you KNOW you enjoy. It’s something you can tell people about or write in a book. You can write about the feeling a drug gives you, but someone else can’t empathise with that, because all that is is a feeling, not an emotion. No one cares about what you felt with a drug, it’s a personal experience that comes down to just a feeling. Nothing more. It has no meaning. There is deeper meaning in doing things that you love, like playing a strategy computer game that requires skill and timing and reflexes, and coordinating with your friends to achieve an objective, together. Sure it was an imaginary objective, but that doesn’t matter because it’s something you genuinely enjoy doing, like dancing. It doesn’t have to be physical to be real.
Some people avoid thinking because they think it causes them pain. You’re going to feel pain anyway, avoiding it will just make things worse later. People think that avoiding pain is a good idea, until the pain comes back and they can’t avoid it. That philosophy of avoiding doesn’t last very long. Start asking yourself why you’re avoiding pain. Hell, ask yourself why pain hurts or why you care. You might find that pain isn’t all that bad if it’s worth it in the end.
It might hurt at first, and maybe even sometimes later, but it’s definitely much more worth it then just being a biological machine and just following your programming.
If you want to start living life, then start asking “why?”.