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The testing ground where cause and affect.

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-KABIR

 

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Hey, ,readers.

This is all I got left to say about what one needs in order to be a philosopher.

E = Exploration.  So, what happens when we run into questions that we cannot answer, or if we are in a situation where it looks or feels hopeless?

For me, this is why Allah and hope are the most important things in my life.  Both my life and the history of the world are littered with mistakes and no-win situations, but this is only possible because we refuse to stay beaten and accept things the way they are.  Philosophy has taught me that I must continue to search for answers, yet understand that some questions cannot be answered, and a lot of situations are beyond my control.

That doesn’t mean that I must curl up and give up.  With hope and faith, I can and will not be broken by any circumstances that I face.  I have the tools to make any situation better, and to endure.  There is a reason why miracles are so special, it is because they are beyond human purview.  They are not meant to be understood or explained.  Yet are miracles possible without faith and hope?

In moments like this I think of the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The study of philosophy has reinforced my faith and hope by making me realize how much I don’t know, and by extension how much humanity doesn’t know.

It is because of how small my world and life is; I have to be reminded just how strong and powerful hope and faith can be.

As I am,

Prince

danny.2014

T = Thinking.

After research and reflection, here are what my underlying thoughts on philosophy are: if philosophy is about how to live by learning how to die, then not having hope or faith is a serious problem.  For as Bertrand Russell says in the Value of Philosophy: “It is exclusively among the goods of the mind that the value of philosophy is to be found, and only those who are not indifferent to these goods can be persuaded that the study of philosophy is not a waste of time.”

Philosophy is valuable because it exposes us to questions that might not have answers.  I ascribe to the thought that a major part of the value of philosophy is in its very uncertainty.  The man who does no know philosophy will be imprisoned by prejudices formed by common sense.  To this man the world becomes definite, obvious, and finite.  Everyday objects which need no questions, and what is not familiar is not welcome.

When we begin to philosophize we find that even the simplest questions can lead to problems that may not be solved.  There cannot be a value on one asking questions in order to find one’s answers for oneself, not settling for what we are being told.

As I am,

Prince

danny-graduation.jpg

 

E + Empirical Recall.

It is the conversations that we have had in philosophy class here at M.S.P., that have shown me why hope and faith are so important to a philosopher.  The class that we have here is big, so there are a lot of diverse opinions.  We have several different religions represented as well as atheists. Surprisingly, it is the conversation with the atheists that has shown me the value of belief.

To a believer, God is all-powerful and the ultimate owner of the Heavens and Earth, yet, we Muslims believe that Allah has given us free will so that we can choose whether or not we want to follow His mandates (the Quran) or if we even believe in Him.  The firm foundation of this belief allows for the belief in miracles.

There are several conversations that stand out as reinforcement for my argument.  The first was that when we were talking about hope, several of my classmates have said that hope is a painful subject that they don’t believe in.  They referred to the myth of Pandora. opening the box and all of the greatest evils escaping except love.  They have used the fact that it was included as an “evil.” To them hope is a double edged sword, because as great as it is when it comes to fruition, it can be just as devastating when it fails.  To my classmates it is better not to have hope then to take the chance that you will be disappointed in this belief.

As a Muslim, I do no suffer from these views.  When talking about the future, I always add Insha’Allah, which means, “God willing.”  If my hope does “come true,” then it is not God’s will.  While I may be disappointed that what I wanted did not happen, I am not unduly emotional.  So, I look at hope as a vital important part of my life.  This does not mean that I still don’t strive to do the best of my ability to achieve whatever goal I have in mind, but if it is not in Allah’s plans for me, who am I to complain?

The second discussion was trees.  For example, were trees designed to give us oxygen, or was that just a useful by-product of their function?  Those that don’t believe a God believe it is just a coincidence.  I wonder if they are even aware of what they are missing.  Far be it for me to tell another person what to believe, but it strikes me as trying to explain colors to somebody who is blind.

As I am,

Prince

danny.graduation

“He will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.” – Plato

After reading just the first sentence of Plato’s’ “the Allegory of the Cave” I was interested. As someone who is currently immersed in a long, hard campaign of self-improvement, words like enlightened or unenlightened automatically catch my eye. However, Plato doesn’t’ make it easy. After three pages I was doubting whether I had the mental fortitude to finish the story. I wonder if this is because I was coming out of the darkness and entering into the light. The crux of Plato’s story is the battle between light and darkness and where we stand in it. As a result of the choices I have made in my life I have a unique viewpoint on this struggle, and have had a lot of time for self-reflection. Plato’s opinions and beliefs as expressed so poignantly match the beliefs that I have come to call my own.

The first time I read the story I struggled and it wasn’t until I reached the end that I gained any understanding of what Plato meant to say. At this time in my life I was not read to “leave the darkness and comfort of the cave.” I walked away, literally and figuratively from the story and what it represented. When Professor Vail assigned “the Allegory of the Cave” for reading I did not immediately remember that I had already read it. However, upon reading Plato’s words I felt the same confusion that assailed me on the first reading. Once I realized the cave and the darkness were just analogies I was able to break the story down into manageable bite-sized hunks. My first reading of the “Allegory of the Cave” left me with a headache, partly because of the weightiness of the ideas expressed and partly because of the avalanche of memories that bombarded me with examples of my part in the spread of “darkness.” I almost put the book down, but refrained for several reasons. Once reason is that a very good friend of mine had asked if I wanted to discuss it the next morning. This friend and I have always had open and often brutally honest conversations with each other, so I knew that I could express to him my confusion, doubts and questions. It also helped that I have been working hard to be the best man that I can be and that I am not the same person who read and ran from the light the first time. So, I picked up the book again and took another step away from the darkness.

There were certain points that Plato “illuminated” that play o0ver and over again in my mind. The first point is how we all start out in the darkness (ignorance and the evils that it brings) and become so accustomed to it that it becomes our world. We are able to navigate it and find ourselves so comfortable in the darkness tat, when we are exposed to something new, i.e. knowledge and education in the form of light, it is extremely uncomfortable. In fact, it hurts because in the harsh light of reality we are forced to confront ourselves. In the dark we don’t see the results of our actions; the pain of our victims and loved ones. In fact, we are so used to the dark that we don’t even realize that what we are seeing and experiencing is not real. For all intents and purposes our lives are lies. We do not recognize this because who wants to admit being trapped in a lie. Instead, we, like Plato says, convince ourselves that “the truth is literally nothing but the shadows of the images.” When any of us are liberated from this shadow existence and shown the light, the first glimpse of this light will hurt our eyes, and it will be easier for us to turn back to the shadows than to continue to face this new pain. “When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled and he will not be able to see anything at all of 3hat are now called realities.” I have experience this first hand. In fact, it still happens to me every time I re-adjust my thinking, values and goals. I am constantly running into situations where my old criminal mentality is exposed as completely at odds with how the average citizen thinks. These moments result in pain and embarrassment for all involved. Thankfully these situations happen less and less often as I continue my journey back from the darkness of the criminal world and into the light of civilization.

“And when he remembers his old habituation and the wisdom o the den and his fellow prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change and pity them? Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.”

Now that I am journeying towards the light, I have found that I also agree with Plato when he says, “my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all and is see only with an effort and when seen that this is the power upon which he would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.” Or, as one of my older friends told me, “If you know better than you have to show better.” This is the most challenging aspect of gaining knowledge, and why everybody that knows me will say I am smart, but now many will say I am wise. Gaining knowledge for the simple sake of learning is a waste of time. I now have to apply what I have learned.

As I am,

Prince

prince

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