What is philosophy?
Is philosophy devouring chapters worth of journal reflections by Ancient Roman Emperors and Greek intellects?
Or is philosophy sitting under a vast night sky, pondering the endless mysteries of the Universe?
Perhaps watching a movie on Netflix, and relating to the main character on a deeply human level is philosophy defined?
What is philosophy? It could be all of these or none.
When I posed the question to my 96 year old Grandfather over the weekend, as to whether he read philosophy and what his thoughts on it were, his answer somewhat surprised me…
“No” was his straight-shooting reply and I could not help but feel a little disappointed. To me, my Grandfather is one of the knowledgeable people I know – surely someone with as much wisdom as he dabbles in philosophy!
But then my Grandfather continued…
“Philosophy”, he said, “is not something to be read. Rather, it is to be experienced.”
This statement is definitely worth exploring.
See, through all my Grandfather’s experiences, he was cultivating a certain perspective; a lens in which to view the world – or, in other words, a personal philosophy.
To my Grandfather, philosophy is not something that you read in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. That is based on someone else’s experiences, and my Grandfathers could be totally different and therefore somewhat irrelevant.
Philosophy is, according to my Grandfather, a collection of our own authentic experiences. We see and interpret the world, based on things that we encounter in our day to day lives. If this is the case, then each of us will define philosophy differently. As long as there is an intention to understand our experiences and make use of them, we are all practicing philosophy in our own unique way.
For me, this is why I read and write. These practices give me the opportunity to integrate my experiences with other sources of wisdom – relating to the things I encounter on a day to day – then reflecting on them and simplifying them in a way in which myself and others may understand, and benefit from.
That is my philosophy, but it’s not about me at the end of the day.
It’s about you and your authentic experiences.
So what is philosophy?
Well, that depends on who is answering.
– Serge Houhlias –
P.S. For some more reflection on philosophy, check out an article I wrote titled Experience by Wisdom here: https://houhligan.wordpress.com/2020/06/10/experience-by-wisdom/