“The Philosopher needed to be trained not only to know how to speak and debate, but also to know how to love.” – Piere Hadot

The philosophers of old were not concerned with ready-made knowledge, but with imparting that training and education that would allow their disciples to “orient themselves in thought, in the life of the city or the world.

When I first started this class I thought that I was ready to be a philosopher, that I would soon be philosophizing with the best of them. I was under the mistaken impression that Professor Bill would give me some magical key and that I would soon unlock the potential to reason and to think. Instead, Professor Bill made me stop and slow down. He showed me that the best thing I can do is to ask questions.

As Plato says, “The un-examined life is not worth living.” I have spent months and years in solitary confinement and have spent a lot of this time “examining” my life. I thought that this meant I was ready to be a philosopher, but I was wrong. The first day Professor Bill asked us two things that I will never forget. The first was that if we could not answer the question of why suicide was not a viable option for us then we were not ready for philosophy. [now, before you (the reader) ask what the hell kind of class is this? Relax. I will explain why that question is important in another letter, so stick with me.]

The second important thing he told us is that Philosophy is about learning how to die. As a Muslim, both of these statements immediately made me think about Allah and my relationship with Him. Suicide is not allowed in Islam and the vast majority of Muslims will automatically think about Allah when the subject of death is broached. For this last critical reflection I will, in my next letter, talk about one of the most important lessons I learned in class: my belief that in order to be a philosopher, you must either believe in either hope, or in God.

As I am,


Fortune, Daniel