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
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
….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:
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
“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