Thursday, March 25, 2010

Philosophy: It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt

I've never studied philosophy but I always thought I should. For someone who paid tuition to make smoke powder blow up in flashpots and learn how ladies' gloves were made from the skins of mice in the Elizabethan age, philosophy seemed like the natural next step in a progression toward an all-encompassing knowledge that was simultaneously quite useless. But just because I never studied it doesn't mean I don't consider myself something of an expert on the topic. After all, I have access to Wikipedia. Duh.

Philosophy, then is:
the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.It is distinguished from other ways of addressing fundamental questions (such as mysticism, myth, or the arts) by its critical, generally systematic approach...The word "Philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία [philosophia], which literally means "love of wisdom."

I do love that wisdom. Watching Jeopardy all the time!

So having now given myself a thorough understanding of the topic, I am prepared to hold forth and present my profound thoughts. Ahem.

It seems to me that in developing a perspective on this whole life thing there are two paths from which to choose:

  • Path A: Destiny. Fate. All things happen for a reason whether it can be understood or not. In fact, understanding is not in play - it's a faith-based organization, and maybe, if we're good, we understand the ending as the credits roll.
  • Path B: Random meaninglessness. Chaos. Nothing means anything, nothing matters, we're all just collections of molecules cursed with consciousness.
  • Path C: There is no Path C because I just said there are two paths from which to choose. Why are you even reading Path C? Can't you focus for even a minute?
The whole destiny and fate approach has a number of attractive aspects. A large foyer, for example, and hardwood floors,cathedral ceilings and two-and-half baths and plenty of lawn out back for the dog. A comforting space where there is always the aroma of fresh-baked bread and six or seven glowing sunsets a day.

Random meaningless, meanwhile, is a leaky basement apartment where the radiator bangs and the windows don't close all the way because the walls are crooked. The people who live upstairs from random meaninglessness wake you up in the middle of the night with their loud coupling and you only get mail that is not intended for you.

Destiny and fate has the whole "butterfly effect" thing going for it - every missed bus changes your life.

Random meaninglessness just says "Fuck, I missed the bus" and goes back into the bar for another beer.

Destiny and fate says "There's no point in striving because whatever is going to happen to you is going to happen no matter what you do."

Random meaninglessness says "There's no point in striving because whatever is going to happen to you doesn't matter anyway."

This is starting to get depressing.

So I call for a Path C. (Yes, I know I denied Path C earlier but how about a little forgiveness here, ok? I'm doing my best.)

Path C says there is some absolute truth, and it comes from the heart and not from the head. The heart feels the right and the wrong. Choices matter. Path C says you are, in fact, the captain of your soul and whether or not you miss that bus is really a choice you make, whether you know it or not. Path C says only people who discover that things are going really well are likely to say "this was meant to be" and people who are hosed think nothing makes sense. Path C says everything we do has a motivation, an intention and a meaning - based on choices we make minute by minute. Path C says you own your happiness or lack of it.

Guess it's just as well I didn't take those philosophy classes. Tonight, at least, it all seems sort of simple.


DodgerScott said...

clearly there's not enough coupling going on or you wouldn't have time to write this ... and I to read it.

NapaNest said...

Help, I am stuck on Path B, and the people upstairs are partying well past 3am on Sundays!

Darlene said...

I think Path A is a choice as well. I choose to believe (on good days) that there is some worthy path already predestined for me. On bad days, I just say "f*ck it".

steve r said...

The Band STYX wrote a song about this in the 70's - Too Much Time on My Hands.....