Friday, October 28, 2022

My Way to Philosophy

When I started college, I was undeclared for two years. At the time, I had a job at the radio station. I said I wanted to major in TV and Radio Broadcasting. I don't know whether I believed I would or not.

My predilection was toward history. I was attracted to the story, national stories, world stories. I had a few compelling professors who knew how to tell history as a narrative.

I had interests in literature and creative writing as well. I thought I would become a writer if I didn't become a history professor. But as much as I loved writing, I wasn't very good at it. I'm still not.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I opted to take a course in ethics. I developed a fascination for Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy. After that, there was no going back. I declared a major in philosophy.

My two favorite philosophers are from divergent traditions. One is David Hume. He was a Scottish philosopher whose 18th-century writings about the human mind in many ways presaged the field of cognitive science.

The other favorite was Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher who is broadly painted an existentialist, though he always disavowed the label. He was interested in what gave life meaning.

Hume and Heidegger would not have gotten along. For Hume, philosophy is continuous with the sciences. For Heidegger, philosophy is an art, more akin to poetry or literature more broadly. The bulk of philosophy's questions will likely forever remain unsolvable. To the extent that a philosopher can, there seems to be value in trying to get the question in a solvable state. But to the extent that the philosopher can't, I see no reason to approach the question with some art. I'm not put off by the divergent possibilities.

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