I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties
through my love for truth — and truth rewarded me.
– Simone de Beauvoir
You don’t need to pay any attention
to anything I say
unless it’s true.
(my standard disclaimer)
In the fall of 1964 I went, from Ohio. to the University of Idaho (on a football scholarship). I enrolled in the College of Letters & Science (their ‘Liberal Arts’ college); and during my freshman year I took an “Introduction to Philosophy” course from the head of the Philosophy Department. The homework amounted to (considerable) reading of the (direct) writings of the greatest philosophers of the western world, starting with the Greeks … and on up to the 20th century. Probably a dozen different philosophers.
I did not read these writings (because of habits I had ‘cultured’ in high school and was still perfecting); but I attended the lectures, where these were discussed. I somehow managed to comprehend the core of the course content. And from this, something very important happened in my life.
I do not remember taking the final exam. But I remember – a certain time (having finished the course), when I was alone, out behind the dorm I lived in.
I realized – that there was substantial disagreement among these “Great Philosophers”. (There was enough overlap for this to occur.) And this meant that some of them had to be wrong. And if THESE GUYS could be wrong, then ANYBODY could be wrong. It was ANYBODY’S BALL GAME !
And the moment I realized this … I felt as though I had just been commissioned.
There was no elder or supervisor or commanding officer around – to hand me a paper.
Nonetheless, the path had been indicated.
[At the end of this post I will include a description of the beginnings (in this life) of my ‘career’ as a philosopher … and the link to the blog posting it was taken from.]
The word ‘philosophy’ has Greek roots. It comes from two words: phylos – to love … and sophia – wisdom. So: Love of Wisdom.
But, for the purposes of this essay, I will dare to change this slightly.
Love of Truth.
To be a philosopher, you must love the truth. Want the truth.
I have noticed (when I am learning choral score … in choir practice) – that it is not enough simply to stare at the musical score that’s in my hands. If I want it to give me information (as to what I should sing, and when I should sing it) … I need to ask those funny marks on the page to give me their best guidance. (And I suspect – that is also important that I am committed to [actually] doing what those squiggles tell me to do.)
I have heard Maharishi (Mahesh Yogi) say – that everyone is (naturally) an artist … and everyone is (naturally) a scientist. Because of the tendency to see and appreciate Beauty … and also the desire to Know … these are things which are natural to life, and are common to all people.
Well, I feel confident – that being a philosopher is (just the same way) – not some ‘weird thing’ …
but quite natural … since truth hunger / the desire to understand deeply are natural to us all.
Now, of course, these can be trained out of us, but that’s another matter.
And, to some extent, this (‘training out’) is bound to be cultural.
Did you know that in Bali, they do not even have a word for “art”. (Everyone always tries to make anything they make as beautiful as possible.)
And in this country (the U.S.) our relationship with the truth is (somewhat) disclosed by a certain ‘intellectual sport’ – debate.
[the following is an excerpt (from p.5 of) my “Preschool Interviews” –
Is there anything you’d like to offer, Grace? Any ideas as to how the world could be better?
Well, one thing that really disturbs me is that, as a culture, we don’t seem to be able to talk with each other. The Hawks and the Doves. Republicans and Democrats. Conservatives and Liberals. ProLife and ProChoice. Here at Vine Maple we pursue cooperation. We practice ThinkTanking. We learn how to make use of each other to come closer to the truth. But out there it seems like the only thing people know how to do is to pick a position and then fight. No suspension. No respect. No listening.
I think it’s a bad sign that schools and colleges have Debate teams and competitions where Arguing is formalized and turned into a game. As if there will be no consequences should we fail to understand our situation … and it only matters whether we can win an argument about it. As though the world doesn’t exist, but Marketing is real.
I know. It’s pitiful.
Yeah. It is. We have to learn to do better.
Yep. We do. Thank you, Grace, for your thoughts.
[and, as I suspect that the similarities (between modern America and the Roman civilization of 2,000 years ago) greatly outweigh the differences, I offer (once again) this following excerpt from the Urantia Book] –
To a Roman soldier, as they walked along the Tiber, he (Jesus) said: “Be brave of heart as well as of hand. Dare to do justice and be big enough to show mercy. Compel your lower nature to obey your higher nature as you obey your superiors. Revere goodness and exalt truth. Choose the beautiful in place of the ugly. Love your fellows and reach out for God with a whole heart, for God is your Father in heaven.”
132:4.7 (1461.5) To the speaker at the forum he said: “Your eloquence is pleasing, your logic is admirable, your voice is pleasant, but your teaching is hardly true. If you could only enjoy the inspiring satisfaction of knowing God as your spiritual Father, then you might employ your powers of speech to liberate your fellows from the bondage of darkness and from the slavery of ignorance.” This was the Marcus who heard Peter preach in Rome and became his successor. When they crucified Simon Peter, it was this man who defied the Roman persecutors and boldly continued to preach the new gospel.
The society we live in is probably less than ideal … with respect to those qualities which will produce philosophers.
But however damaged we may currently find ourselves, I still suggest – that we may set ourselves back on a good track … by a rather trivial change in attitude. And that IT is in fact the key … it’s the heart of philosophy.
Yearn for the truth.
And, let me say – that the reason I feel I am able to speak with some authority about this matter is … that I vary.
I am NOT uniformly and always a philosopher. There are times when I (truly) am so … but there are also times (most of the time, to be honest) – that I am (much) less so.
And, of course, you may be entirely confident – that this ability (to see the truth / to come closer to the truth) will respond to practice & training … just as do all other qualities and habits … (good or bad).
All the Best to you.
I grew up in semi-rural northwest Ohio.
When I was 14, just after I entered Shawnee High School, I matriculated also into a school which I could not see.
I do not know whether I had more than one teacher, or of what order of being they were, but they were not human. I couldn’t see them.
Nevertheless, I was being taught.
There were no scheduled classes.
I was simply having my attention directed to certain things that were happening around me.
For example: to what was happening when a fellow student eagerly filled in a gap in their understanding. Clearly this was being done because they were not comfortable with the “hole”; and they didn’t much care what it got filled in with.
That very moment I vowed I would never do such a thing.
If I didn’t understand something, I would live with the “blank”.
(I would wait TILL I DIED if necessary.)
I would wait till the understanding came.
I gave myself – completely – to this Training.
I was more devoted to it than to the education I was receiving in the school I could see, and from the human teachers I could see and hear.
Fifteen years later I was living in Seattle, Washington.
One day (in the spring of 1976) I was “auditioned”.
I was asked to work through, to think through – the Freewill / Determinism Paradox.
(Do human beings have free will, or not? Is our subjective sense of freedom – an illusion?)
I agreed to do so.
It was not the first time I had thought about this issue. I had not thought much about it for some time. Anyway, I agreed.
After a couple weeks of thinking it through, it occurred to me that I had done what I could do with the idea.
So I “notified my Teacher”, and “handed in my work”.
There was nothing written down. I guess I figured they would be able to handle my thoughts directly (as perhaps they may have been recorded).
I sort of just “handed in my mind” to be reviewed and considered.
I didn’t hear any applause or anything like that; but I got the feeling that it was considered to be Satisfactory.
Soon after that (perhaps two weeks) a certain thought came into my mind: that there are two components (or aspects) of what we call (here & now) “Experience”. There is an outer, material aspect; and there is an inner, subjective, non-material aspect.
(As I look out my window, I see a pond. It has water and fish, etc. That is material.
Also there is my (inner) experience of it. And this is made of Mind Stuff. It is not material.)
Now … everybody knows this.
And I had no reason to be thinking about it.
Furthermore, attached to this idea – was an INTENSE sense of URGENCY,
Which I did not put there.
(And the idea didn’t come from me, either.)
I had been auditioned … and then had been given an assignment.
For the next year and a half (till the “answer” came) I was, I believe, as true to my assignment as I could have been.
Those next (4) years I spent at MIU (now MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa. A liberal arts college where everyone – faculty, staff, and students – practices TM (Transcendental Meditation). And since consciousness is there regarded to be the basis of everything, there is more than a little talk about it.
So whenever it seemed pertinent to a given discussion, I would interject something about my assigned idea (the outer and the inner).
Students came to talk to me. In a steady stream. To encourage me.
The environment was about ideal.
But it was not until late in the fall term of my second year there that the Insight finally came.
In the class I was taking we were watching one day a film strip about a baby in a high chair, playing with some toy on the tray in front of him. He knocked it off the tray, and the object fell out of his field of view. But he does not hunt for it.
Then the baby goes through a Transition. THEN when his toy lands outside of his field of view, HE HUNTS FOR IT.
This immediately struck me as very important. Significant.
But it took about two weeks for the Insight to present itself.
Then I understood it !
I had completed my assignment.
RECOGNITION is the key.
We watch the inner
And we recognize it
– [excerpted from my blog post – “Paradigm Shift” (14 March 2018)
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pp8EPXHkV__y1lQ65wSpQT2hDDio8Gck1YVLSre9jjo/edit?usp=sharing (Preschool Interviews)
https://www.urantia.org/urantia-book-standardized/paper-132-sojourn-rome?term=132#search-jump-result-0 (Urantia Book excerpt context)