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Philosophy: an act of rebellion

Asking questions to challenge the status quo

· Psychotherapy,Philosophy

A common misconception about philosophy is that it is out of touch with ordinary life. Even if philosophical debates seem pedantic and abstract, there's more to philosophy than splitting hair on semantics. Philosophy addresses questions that are more than relevant for our everyday life. For example why do we need to respect nature? What are human rights? Is it wrong to use animals for scientific research? What is the mind? Is there life after death? Do I need to limit my freedom to live in a civilised society?

Philosophy questions politics, ethics, religion, mortality, the fundamental nature of reality (which is referred to as metaphysics), freedom, science, and so on. The answers we give to those questions can profoundly affect our existence. They have deep implications for the way we live in the world and how we relate to others. Too often we just assume the general views of the society we live in, limiting out ability to formulate creative opinions.

I think that often the questions are more interesting than the answers, because they open up to the exploration of new knowledge and possibility. Every answer we give to philosophical questions is only temporary. All the so-called scientific answers that have been formulated during the centuries have constantly been replaced by new theories. Only the fundamental existential questions have survived. So the challenge is not to construct more answers, but to create new angles for enquiries.

Philosophers use a way of thinking and arguing that is bound by rigour and structure and this is what it makes it a precise discipline. Constructing a coherent argument is a fundamental skill for a philosopher, yet philosophy is more than a simple exchange of opinions. It helps us challenging assumptions in a rigorous manner.

It is important to build those enquiries on a solid and sophisticated line of thinking. The philosopher is a rebel only if he/she can challenge our standardised views with a new enquiry. In this way we can challenge beliefs, assumptions, and most importantly, dogmatism. Doing philosophy is in itself an act of rebellion because it challenges the rigidity of rules and biases that every culture has. A revolutionary thinker will always rebel against preconceived ideas.

A lot of this rebellion is an internal conflict against our own internalised biases: this is where philosophy and psychotherapy meet (see http://www.matteofrancescon.com/psychotherapy).

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