“Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Why is a philosophic way of life appealing to so few?
Why would something that enriches and encourages human experience, like stoic philosophy, be so little known?
Ludwig Von Wittgenstein claimed that the aim of philosophy was to show the fly out of the glass bottle.
I imagine us, modern humans, as flys within the bottle, with a difference. I imagine us just comfortably sitting in the middle, not really knowing we are inside the bottle, not even aware of our predicament.
The question then is, what has to happen for us to notice? To touch the glass for the first time?
Usually is not something nice. But catastrophic, like dead or immense sudden chaos that strips us out of our comfort. But it can be quiet desperation as well. Just like the man that has followed orders for too long and has forgotten his meaning. This makes the person wonder about his or her reality and thanks to doubt or even in desperation, they luckily stumble into philosophy, which offers them a completely new understanding of reality.
Freedom is the only worthy goal.
So, what is this glass made of?
Beliefs. A belief is something that is accepted, something considered to be true.
Sitting unaware in the middle of the bottle equals to leaving these beliefs unquestioned and therefore something strong needs to happen for us to realize that we are in a bottle of beliefs that can be changed and that is not ultimate.
The most normal/usual type of glass that exists is the one made of popular culture.
These are canned beliefs that appeal to the masses.
A person in this category will enjoy everything that is sold to him.
It can be McDonald’s or it could be the Farmer’s Market as well. He may be a healthy individual or he may be fat. It doesn’t matter what popular culture he is embedded in, from this standpoint, he or she just believes everything without question.
This is being trapped in beliefs. The sad part is not even realizing that you are trapped, that your decisions are not yours but of someone else.
Ever felt bad about not having a better car or a nicer house? Have you ever felt guilty about not living to your family expectations? That’s the glass, the traps.
I’m not saying that aspiring to improve your life is bad. But doing it for fear of not fitting in whatever category or expectation the world has for you is what is not ok.
Noticing the traps
What happens when you begin to notice, the trap?
It must be a tragic moment, I mean, it is reality what we are talking about here. We are not talking about a game inside the world we know, but the world that we thought we knew, starts shattering before our eyes.
A loved one dies, bankruptcy or some other calamity that wakes you up to see that reality is not as you think it is.
In this stage, you have seen the trap. What you thought was important, like job meetings or that trip you planned for so long, is no longer important. You have seen the glass bottle, but, the problem is, that you don’t see the way out. Like the bee or the fly in your windows.
You are still trapped and you don’t see the way out.
Desperation creeps in.
The way out
But there is a way out, and that way out is philosophy, philosophy is the exit through the neck of the bottle, it is the path to freedom.
Freedom is the only worthy goal.
What is is so amazing about freedom anyways?
Everybody is still going to die, you are still going to keep suffering. What is it about freedom that is so attractive that all else can be beared in a justified manner?
And understanding brings peace.
Honestly, I’d say, that it first brings about peace and then it shows you the way into power. The power that comes with looking reality in the face and without fear.
By now you start to think for yourself. The self emerges out of the bottle guided from within and not from without as it was before.
Slavery ends and freedom is regained.
And then, a more powerful feeling creeps in.
Now that you are free, you are curious about everything.
Life begins to be a realm of infinite possibility and a new sense of perception emerges, it could be compared to play. The world offers an immensity of ideas and categories to be explored.
Before, in the bottle, we were to busy with the vegan trend or McDonald’s or Facebook and trying to live up to other people expectations and so we didn’t realize what truly is important.
But now, outside the bottle, real and powerful questions begin to emerge, like:
- What exactly am I?
- What is god anyways?
- What is this all about?
Freedom and play.
to question is to philosophize
The way into philosophy, most of the time is a sad one. But the riches gained are unsurmountable because freedom and independence are regained.
And that precisely is what the stoics referred to when they said that the only life worth living was that of the philosopher.
It is only through philosophy that we can gain understanding. Understanding, ultimately, justifies everything in our lives and more so, it gives our lives meaning. Questioning reality forces us to really think about what we are doing here and what is it that really matters and what does not.
Stoic philosophy to give an example. Remembers death as a fundamental part of our lives. It reminds us that our time in here is limited and this puts many things from a different perspective. If you think about death often, I can assure you that the preoccupations you’ll go through will be much more important and asserted than the ones of a person that thinks that he’s going to live forever.
Philosophy gives color to life, it gives meaning and understanding. It also brings solace to the wounded and enhanced experience to anybody that reads just a bit. The world without philosophy is gray.
If you want to start your journey into knowledge and philosophy, I recommend you to just start reading. I am going o recommend stoicism if you happen to be unaware of it.
You can start with Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, or with Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius. Just by reading these two great books I assure you, you will be forever changed.
Stoic answers aim is to provide answers to the deepest human questions, which sadly, are almost always never asked.
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