Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann column 59 - Let's talk about culture and philosophy

HT column ….and philosophy


It is the practice of many people to have quotes ready for any situation of the day; quotes by philosophers or quotes by famous people, to express their feelings, a sort of quintessence, the stone of wisdom. I used to do it as a young mother to tell my children with brief words and down to the point educational phrases….Not again, Mom, they cried, stop giving us quotes but I answered back: why should I make long stories, when others have said it much better.

Look into Facebook, there they are, all the philosophical thoughts, thoughts about love and friendship, about things happening in the world, deep thoughts explaining it all.

That is what philosophy is about. It is the answers to questions. The big WHY is the first step. The most often used word of a child growing up is WHY. One day the child will stop asking questions but a philosopher will never stop seeking for answers.

On 15 November is the International Philosophy Day created by UNESCO as an invitation to celebrate the day by ‘sharing a multitude of views and experiences, fully respecting cultural diversity’, with regard to a main theme, which in the 2012 World Philosophy Day was “Future Generations”.

There is an incredible number of philosophical schools, you would never believe it, hundreds of them, have you heard of Emanationism? Or of fictionalism? Or of British idealism? Bavarian Illuminati? Antipositivism?  I know of Agnosticism, Confucianism, Cynism, Skepticism, Platonism, Pre-socratic philosophy, sophists, and stoicism….


‘Man is the measure of all things’ said Protagoras meaning that there is no truth but that which individuals deem to be the truth. It is a statement made by the Greek philosopher Protagoras who lived 490-420 BC. I like that. It means that we have the freedom to regard our own conclusions as the truth, our truth. At the same time we accept, or at least we should accept, that the others have the same rights.

This is the basic idea for the institutionalization of philosophy as world philosophy day as UNESCO thought “it would win recognition for and give strong impetus to philosophy and, in particular, to the teaching of philosophy in the world and to build a better understanding of our present world and develop adequate responses to challenges.” They believe that critical thinking, foresight, and ethical judgment are invaluable ingredients for a healthy society.

A healthy society, that is the dream of many, but how can it be reached?

Cyprus has its own famous philosopher, Zenon of Citium, the old name for Larnaca, the son of a Cypriot merchant, the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy (334-262 BC). When he was around 30 years old, he went to Athens and started teaching until he was over 90 years of age.

In his book “Legends of Cyprus” Ali Nesim, writer and philosopher, living in Zeytinlik, tells us about Zenon, his life and his basic principles:

….Cypriots are very proud of him because his philosophy meets with their ideas of life.

This was the advice that Zenon gave to his students, “Learn to be indifferent to exterior influences.” According to stoicism, good and evil depends on oneself. A free person is indifferent to exterior influences. Stoicism supports destiny; “Everything comes from the universe and is predetermined and cannot be prevented.” Although Stoics are optimistic they believe: “This non-preventable destiny is determined by God.”

“God is good and a rationalist.” When Stoics are asked the question of, “What is the Virtue” they answer, “To accept without questioning what happens in our surroundings”.  It is necessary to accept everything in the world with love. So, what is freedom, does it only consist of the one word? In Stoicism philosophy “Fatalism and its freedom” is interpreted:

 “Freedom is to accept all events produced by God’s power, and that is freedom. We can’t change any event. However, when we know an event's meaning and course we can adapt our behaviour to the situation prevailing. So freedom improves the interior by ignoring  the exterior. “Freedom is not to affect, it is to be unaffected.” The book is available in Turkish, English and German, all languages in one.


We all have our favourite philosophers, we choose them to fit our requirements, mostly, although there are many who live by the rules, vegetarians for example. Why, tell me, must I get up so early? Because “The early bird catches the worm!”

My house philosopher is Confucius, and what he says is:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.”

“Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated!”








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