Friday, February 24, 2012

Philosophical knowledge

Philosophers were in ancient Greece often strange people. Some of them could sit on top of tall marble pedestals all day and think. Others dug themselves into caves in the mountainside to think. Common for many of them was that they did not do paid work. They had to beg for food and money very often. Thinkers could not condescend to practical labor. Others could take care of that. They had important ideas to think about. The first philosophers were natural philosophers and thought a lot about things they could observe around them. Eventually came other "important thoughts" such as what time is, about mathematics, logic, rhetoric, and poetry. It was here that our Western science began. Philosophy was our first science. When Aristotle came into the picture, he divided philosohy into a theoretical part and practical part. I'm mostly concerned with practical philosophy and it goes way back to Aristotle.

Philosophy means to have a love for wisdom. Wisdom can be understood as
prudence, knowledge and knowing (proficiency)   . Prudence means to act properly and requires an understanding of how something should be. Knowledge is about recognizing truths and is often associated with mathematics, (meta-) physics and natural sciences. Knowing (proficiency) has to do with having insight into how something should be done. Aristotle says that wisdom is about having the skill of knowing how to act in ways that are best for oneself and for society. Being in possession of such wisdom is important to live a good life.

This seems to be more important today than ever before. To think carefully when you shop and ask yourself whether you can afford this or that. It has become so easy buy things with a credit card and not have to think, just by. Thinking is something you do when the bill comes. In our consumer society, we seem to act with little wisdom. Another example of lack of wisdom in today's society is all the lifestyle illnesses we struggle with. Cardiovascular disease, obesity and lung cancer are increasing in our days and experts say that this increase is due to the way we live. We do not act in a way that is good for ourselves or the society we live in. Philosophical knowledge is about taking a break every now and then to think, and dare to make decisions that are sensible for oneself and others. As I write at the top of my blog:
Practical Philosophy is about creating an awareness about what signifies human beings: making choices and taking responsibility for that which is Good.

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