Answering Questions on Interesting Philosophical Concepts!

So for my 2 year blogging anniversary I asked you all to ask me questions with interesting philosophical concepts and I actually couldn’t have asked for better questions; you guys were great! So here are my answers and feel free to agree/refute/share your own view in the comments.


 

1. What do you think is the meaning of life?

I love this question because it’s so broad and there’s so many ways you can take it, but at the same time I have no idea where to start. If the world started by chance then ultimately there is no meaning to life, but if the world was started by a higher being, such as God, then maybe there is a purpose. Personally, I don’t really have an opinion on how the world began, not because I’m a cop out but because I like to have experienced the evidence to believe it, so instead I leave my options open. This makes it very hard to judge what the meaning of life is. However, in terms of the meaning of life for each individual person, it is completely subjective. For me, it is to be happy and to live my life to its fullest extent. In terms of humanity as a whole, I have this unexplained feeling that there is no meaning to life at all, yet this is why we need to drive ourselves to find our own meaning, otherwise we lose ourselves to this empty void.

2. What does it mean to live a good life?

This is such a difficult question because “good life” is likely to mean something completely different from one person to another. In terms of morality, there are many debates about whether one mistake makes your life bad or whether you can redeem yourself. I think a good life in this sense is if you’ve lived your life in the best way that you can. Even if you’ve made mistakes, if you’ve learnt from them and come out as an all-rounded good person then I would say your life is good. If we’re talking about a good life in terms of the present, I would say you have a good life if you have lots of reasons to make you smile and be happy. For some people, even in their worst of times, can find reasons to be happy and so a “good life” can seem like a “bad life” to someone else, or vice versa, but all that matters is how you view it yourself.

3. What should be the goal of humanity?

For me, the goal of my life is to be happy, and I think this should be the goal of humanity too. Of course, it’s unrealistic for everyone to be content with their lives, but I think to pass on a world that gives the greatest amount of happiness it can to future generations is what life should be about. Otherwise, what’s the point?

4. If you could teach everyone in the world one concept, what concept would have the biggest positive impact on humanity?

This is so hard because I feel like there’s a lot of important qualities we should have as human beings, such as kindness, selflessness, etc. but I think the one that would make the biggest positive impact is respect. In a world of so many different kinds of people it is impossible for everyone to agree, but I think it’s important that we respect each other’s opinions regardless. With this kind of respect comes equality, greater happiness and confidence and I think these things are really important.

5. Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?

When I first read this question, I had no idea what it meant, but I loved it because I enjoy trying to unpick metaphors. To me, the big fish is someone who’s happy, successful and has everything in life, but they are in a small pond so they have nowhere to travel to. The small fish is someone who is only just starting out, doesn’t have everything they want and are hardly successful, but they have this big pond to roam about in. Instantly, I thought it would be better to be the small fish, because what’s the point if you already have everything? I think the whole point of living is to grow into the best person you can be through finding new experiences and allowing yourself to roam around the big pond of life, rather than starting out great but being limited in places to go. To me, there is so much more achievement in actually working for something rather than it being given to you and it 100% makes you a better person for it.

On searching the internet, I found the meaning of this question was similar but also slightly different to what I had taken from it (story of my life). It’s the idea of whether you’d rather be with people that are above you in standard (big pond) or in a group of people below you in standard (small pond). I would still go with the small fish though and for the same reasoning too – without people smarter than you, how would you grow intellectually as a person? Your worth might seem insignificant but in the long run you may end up becoming the big fish in the big pond. It’s all about putting in the effort.

6. What happens after death?

Ahh what a classic philosophical question but I love it all the same! I’m one of those people that doesn’t have a certain belief about life after death. I love contemplating all the different options and there are certain ideas that appeal to me, for example in reincarnation the idea of living again and again sounds fun because the concept of there being nothing after death scares me. But I don’t necessarily believe it is true. All I hope for is that my death is peaceful and I end up in a happy place.

7. Why is the sky blue?

Damn now I’m going to be contemplating this every time I go outside. I’ve never really thought of why the sky is blue because it’s something that we’ve just got used to as humans. I guess it’s just like the colours of everything. Why are plants green? Why is my hair brown? It’s just a lucky draw and that’s how it is. But there is also the debate about colour where one thing might look like one colour to me, but a different colour to you, yet we universally call it the same colour. If I’ve confused you look this one up! It’s actually so interesting to contemplate.

8. What does it mean to exist?

For me, existing on a basis level is when you’re alive and have a heartbeat. However, when thinking about people who suffer from illnesses such as Dementia, are they considered as existing? I think existence, from this perspective, revolves around memories. Combining all these aspects I would say to exist is to have a heartbeat, to be able to feel and to be able to have memories.

9. Do you think cats are truly the gods of the universe, as ancient Egyptians believed?

Hahaha I love cats but I don’t think they’re the gods of the universe. I’m not sure anyone is really the god of the universe.

10. Why do we think and feel?

Hmmm I think we think and feel because we’re human and we’re in existence. If we couldn’t do either of these things, quite frankly, we might as well be a stone.

11. Just out of curiosity, do you have any favourite philosophers?

Ooh this is a tough one. There are many philosophers I find really interesting, such as Plato’s analogy of the cave and Freud’s analysis of the unconscious (despite how weird he is at times). I don’t think I have a favourite philosopher though because I think philosophy is all about looking at things in different ways and so it’s good to have knowledge of all different kinds of people. Therefore, they’re all kind of my favourite. They all unlock new ideas in my brain and I appreciate them all in different ways.

12. What do you think is the hardest question to answer?

This one? Nah I’m kidding, but this is pretty hard… I would probably say when people ask you what your favourite is of something, like your favourite book or your favourite movie. It’s not just because I’m indecisive (because let’s be honest I completely am), but because I think everything is valued in different ways and so it is impossible to have one that you value the most – and if you think you do, it probably isn’t accurate.

13. Do you think freewill is real or just an illusion?

Ahhh this one completely trips your brain out just thinking about it. It reminds me of the film The Adjustment Bureau which has such an amazing concept but it actually scares me to think someone could be controlling me. I know I would like to think freewill is real, but to be honest we actually can’t tell…

14. Where do you find the meaning of the life?

This is very similar to the first question I answered and at first I thought it was the same, but it’s actually asking where you find this meaning, not what it is. I think where you find the meaning of life depends on your outlook but I believe that to find meaning in your own life you need to look and appreciate all the little things – these are the things that make your existence worthwhile.

15. Do you think animals have the same life meaning as humans have?

I think this ultimately depends on what you believe the life meaning of humans is. As I’ve said above, to me my life purpose is to be happy and from this perspective, I would actually say the same for animals. I spoke to my friend about this question and she said that we won’t ever know whether we have the same life meaning as animals unless we have experienced it because we can’t truly understand. And I completely agree with this. There really is no way of telling.


 

I apologise for the amount of words this post has because I really did go overboard on my answers, but they were just so interesting! I hope they were as fun to read as it was to write. I’d love to know your view on these questions too, so please do leave your opinions in the comments and we can start a discussion going!

Advertisements

How do you reignite excitement in things that have become normalised?

I’ve been thinking a fair amount recently about change – I wrote a post about it a week ago – but also what happens when there is no change. Sometimes I wonder about all the things in my life that have become normalised. Things like texting friends or eating food. It’s become a routine that sometimes I think about how I’ve lost my appreciation for it. Or not necessarily lost appreciation but lost its impact.

When you’ve become so used to something it isn’t as exciting anymore and I miss that. I try to recreate it sometimes by pushing my mind into the present and living it like it’s the first time again, but it’s hard. It’s surprisingly hard. I feel like the only way to stop this would be to cut myself off from everything for a while and then come back to it fresh, but how do you do something like that in a world where everything’s moving so quickly and everything’s so instant? It’s impossible.

I don’t know if there is really an answer or a solution to this. Maybe I’m just one of those people who lives in their head too much and is overthinking this. Or maybe some of you out there get this feeling too. I don’t know if I’m describing it in a way that’s understandable but I hope so.

Seeing things with new eyes again is sometimes all you need for a change of mindset. I think maybe it’s what I need. I just don’t know how to achieve it.

So I guess I’m asking: what do you do to reignite excitement in things that have become normalised? Or are you as confused about this as I am and are contemplating completely irrelevant things at midnight instead of sleeping? (because surely I can’t be the only one)

Gaining Freedom + Embracing Change

Today I was having a conversation with a friend and it made me think about freedom. When we’re part of the education system, whether at primary school, secondary, taking A levels or doing a degree, we’re somewhat tied down to a place and a subject and a particular thing that really doesn’t give us a lot of space for change. It’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s necessary to focus on a goal. Sometimes it’s nice to feel grounded. But lately, I’ve been feeling so excited for summer and I think that’s mostly because I’m excited for change and new opportunities.

Change is something that I used to find really daunting. I still do find it daunting but I think I’m starting to realise how much I actually like it. I find it hard to change myself and my mindset when I’m stuck in the same place because I associate it with bad memories or have already set myself out in a certain way and I feel like I can’t delve much away from that. However with change, I can start again. With change comes excitement and when I’m stuck in the same place the excitement dies away and I miss it. I think it’s nice to seek it again once in a while.

Education is something that I’ve realised limits this freedom; this urge to move around and seek new things and see the world – literally, and the one inside your head. University is the first time this freedom really grew as I finally got to see a new city and meet new people and it’s such a great experience. But again, like I’ve said, the excitement dies down. That’s why I’m really glad I’ll be in a new accommodation next year with different people and doing different modules because I love the idea of starting afresh as if I’m in first year again.

It’s only when I finish uni entirely though, that I will feel completely free for the first time. With no ties to education, I’m thrown into the world of finding jobs which is scary, but I have the freedom to move wherever I like. It’s actually crazy to think about because in five years time all my friends might be in completely different areas and completely different countries but I’ll still be able to keep in contact and travel to meet them and I think it’ll be a really exciting part of my life. I have no idea where I’d like to be but I’m so ready to try out different places and find somewhere I’d like to stay. Or if I like moving around then maybe I could do that too.

Having this conversation made me think about how I don’t have to ground myself in one place for the rest of my life. I think things wear off on me. Maybe it’s a bad thing but maybe it happens to all of us but some of us just live through it whilst others decide to seek new things. I think life is too short to just settle though. I hope that if I’m unhappy living somewhere I will move somewhere where I can be happy again. Although surroundings can’t change your mind I think they do really affect it. It makes me understand why some people constantly travel or never stay in the same place for very long. They’re just making the most of that exciting feeling you get when you visit somewhere new and want to capture everything like it’s your first and your last moment at the same time. I think that’s something you can’t really beat. I think that’s why I love travelling so much and feel in such a good mood when doing so. It’s inspiring and makes me want to make the most of everything I see and do.

Hopefully I can look back on this in the future and it’ll spur me to make a change if I’m not feeling right, or maybe I’ll look back knowing I’ve already been to all the places I want to and have found a place I am content with. Either way, the goal is to be happy. And if I’m not happy, then changes should always be made.

How Can One Small Tablet Be So Powerful?

I had this thought the other day of how amazing it is that something as small as a tablet can be so powerful, completely changing your emotions and your life. It’s weird to think that something as intricate and detailed as a brain can be manipulated into working differently without even changing its wiring. And of course a lot of the time it isn’t the brain itself, however the changes to other parts of the body through the tablet still affect it. We’re so used to these ideas that it’s not often we stop and think about how crazy it actually is – that something this advance exists.

If we currently have tablets that can change the way we think and feel now, what will the future hold? Will we still have tablets? Will we have a machine that we walk into and when we walk out we’re an altered version ourselves? Perhaps there won’t even be a machine. Perhaps it’ll be like a zap to the head like miracle medication.

If you could decide, how would you want to be treated? Or would these possibilities scare you into being treated at all?

Do Beginnings Exist?

I read this really interesting text last semester about beginnings and whether they exist and I still hate myself for waiting this long to write a blog post, but here it finally is!

When we think of a text, we call the first word the beginning. Why? Because without thinking too hard about it, it is the beginning for us. It is where we enter the realm of the characters within the novel. However, is it really the beginning? What if the beginning is the title page, even if it conveys nothing but a few words? What if the beginning is the blurb, since that’s the first time you conceptualise the novel in your head? Maybe it’s the moment you first saw the cover, now that imagery suddenly conveys a lot more than you would expect. It’s actually endless where a beginning even begins.

If you think about the author of a novel, the beginning is very different for them since they are the ones writing it. For them, perhaps the start is when they initially come up with the idea. It could be a fully formed idea or it could just be noticing that man at the corner of the street that stemmed the rest of the characters. Maybe nothing really begins until it has an end in sight, making it halfway through the draft, or when the end is actually known, making it the full first draft.

However, just to make things even more confusing, if the beginning of a novel did stem from seeing the man at the corner of the street, then surely that’s not the beginning because it’s not the man’s beginning? So the beginning of the novel would stretch back all the way to the beginning of the man because without him, the beginning of the novel would never have occurred. But then the beginning of the man wouldn’t have occurred without the beginning of two other people. And so on. And so is it all just an endless beginning, ironically meaning that there is no beginning at all?

This is evident in the way that an author can never really create a novel with no inspiration. It is impossible since they would have to invent everything. Therefore, they are unconsciously inspired by everything they have come across in their life. Their work isn’t new; it’s just a transformed, manipulated version of everything that’s ever existed. Wow, that’s a way to degrade a novel. But isn’t it also true? It doesn’t necessarily make it unworthy, just that it’s had so many influences that it’s beginning can’t be pinpointed, and to me that makes it all the more important and exciting because you know that no one else could have created an exact replica, even if they tried.

What also interests me is that if there is no beginning, then surely there’s no end either? A quote from the text I read said something along the lines of “it takes longer to write about life than it takes to live it, therefore no autobiography can ever end”. I love this sentence because I’ve never really thought of it like this before. It is actually impossible to document our life without using up all our life and more, and we don’t have that more. Therefore, our life can never fully be explained, no one can ever really know everything about you and your experiences unless they were you. If people come into your lives at different times, they only know part of your experiences. Perhaps your middle becomes their beginning. Or their end becomes your middle. It’s like a tangled web of different timelines and you all interweave and dodge each other and share information and there’s no way of knowing where anything began or ended.

But really, does it matter?

What Makes a House a Home?

I was talking with BambooChewer a few days ago about “home” because she’s moving soon and it kind of inspired me to question what actually makes a home a home and not a house.

In my lifetime I’ve had four different homes, but I guess not in the traditional sense. I lived in my first house for the first eleven years of my life and of course, it was the only place at the time I called home. When it came to moving, I was nervous – anyone would be. I remember walking around the house after it had been emptied of furniture and it was so strange, this place that had once been full of all our stuff completely clear of any sign of human life. It was like any proof we’d ever lived there had completely gone. It was kind of like all of my eleven years had gone with it.

The day I moved into my new house was a surreal experience. There was the familiar faces of family but in an unknown environment – kind of like going on holiday except it’s permanent. I unpacked all my stuff straight away but my room was smaller and there was less space. It wasn’t ideal but it was just how things had to be. You wake up the next day and you have that moment where you wonder where you are before you remember again. And then from that moment onwards, it becomes normal again.

When I moved into this house, I also simultaneously moved into my Dad’s new house. I remember painting the walls and shopping for new decorations – it’s something any eleven year old would enjoy. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t weird. Suddenly going from one home to two new houses, whilst dealing with the divorce and starting secondary school that year, wasn’t going to be easy. It was probably one of the hardest years for me. However, looking back I can now easily say that more than one home does exist, even if at the time you’re completely convinced otherwise.

I think that a lot of the time people and connections and memories make up your home as much as the place itself does. Without them, your home is merely just a building with you inside it. With them, it’s a building full of everything and everyone inside it (whether in the present or in the past). Think of when you go on holiday. At first, your hotel room is unfamiliar and strange. It takes a while to get used to. However, by the end of the week it feels normal. You have memories of certain things. You can even remember the layout of it years later. It became a temporary home without you even knowing it.

Recently, I encountered my fourth home which is at university. This change was pretty different from the one before because it really did occur without any people or memories at all. At first, there was no link whatsoever to it being a home. However, now that I’ve been here for 6 months and I know people and I have memories, it’s become one. And yes, sometimes I still wake up and wonder which of the three houses I’m in – that’s inevitable – but I feel comfortable in all of them in different ways. They’re all home to me, even if they don’t feel the same. Because no home is ever going to feel the same as another, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as good.

So I guess the point of this is to say that if you’re ever moving away and you’re scared, it’s only temporary. Once something becomes familiar and we can associate it with people and memories we know, it becomes livable. And new environments can sometimes be really good for us. They motivate us to change ourselves alongside our changed surroundings. They stop us from focusing too much on ourselves (because we’ve become so used to our normal surroundings we ignore them) and focus on what’s new around us. It’s a way of moving forward.

I hope you all find a home in your house ❤

Does Pain Have a Body?

Today I finally finished ‘Moby Dick’ (oh my god major cheers crying with happiness) and despite being thoroughly bored with the long-winded paragraphs (or should I say 500 pages) about whales and wishing it would be more action-packed, it is actually really interesting to analyse. Today I came across a particular phrase that struck me which I’d like to talk about here!

“All the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless…”

This phrase stemmed from a description about the wind and how it can’t ‘receive a single blow’ as you simply ‘run through it’. It’s one of those moments in a book where out of nowhere you just stop and think about it and that’s exactly what I did. Because somehow thinking about the wind as a target and someone trying to hit it never occurred me (which isn’t surprising because it’s not exactly an everyday occurrence, but still).

I think this idea of humans being destroyed the most by things that are bodiless is just so interesting because when you think about it, aren’t we hurt most of all by mere concepts? You might say we suffer through relationships by other people, but isn’t that from the concept of love rather than the individual themselves? Without the love aspect, they’re just any other person. The same with if someone took your ball in the playground in primary school and you were hurt because they wouldn’t give it back. Isn’t that suffering from the concept of justice rather than the person themselves, because if it wasn’t unfair, it wouldn’t be bad in the first place?

Also when you consider mental health, there is no arguing this is pain that is bodiless because it’s all in your head. However, if other situations, like I’ve mentioned above, were bodiless too, wouldn’t they be treated in the same way as mental health? But they’re not. So perhaps they’re not bodiless after all.

What actually defines a body or makes something bodiless? Does it literally have to have arms and legs and a brain? Does it merely have to be visible? I guess it’s hard to say. In relation to the quote, I think perhaps it’s talking about verbalised pain – racism, verbal abuse. But is saying these things that are bodiless outrage man the most even fair? Surely any kind of pain, whether bodiless or not, is awful.

I guess perhaps Melville is saying that invisible pain is somewhat worse because of its invisibility. If it cannot be seen, how can it be understood? How can it be treated? And this in itself adds to the pain to make it worse. If just we had depression in the form of a walking body or a physical being embodying the love in a relationship. Although these things are exuded through our bodies, they aren’t ultimately seen as a body in themselves; we as humans hide and repress so much that they can’t possibly be shown in their fullest extent through us. Maybe this is for the better. Who even knows?

To be honest I don’t know what I even agree with so far in this post because all these ideas have suddenly sprung to my mind, but it’s certainly something to think about.

If you could wish all pain to have a body, would you?