A while ago, Justin and Ryan asked me a question I never really got down to answering– “What do you learn in Philosophy?” Why learn Philo?
At that time I really didn’t know what we learnt, haha not sure why, maybe coz i was a little complacent, and didn’t pay it due attention. But having studied it closely (the more i studied it the more i fell in love with it ^^), and having just sat for the philo end-year-35% assessment today, now seems a good time to go back to them. :) :)
John Stuart Mill defines philo as a means by which we build character and remove vice; but more broadly, Wiki says… Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It relies strongly on rational argument. The word “philosophy” comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means “love of wisdom”.
Why does Raffles incorporate Philosophy into our curriculum, and places such strong emphasis on it that — yes #truestory, you can’t promote without passing it? Haha no, it’s not to turn us into rule-following, goodness-oozing, brainwashed clones. Quite the contrary, (this really is just my view here) I think it’s to imbue in us deep moral courage and grounding, hone our skills, and challenge our thinking. :)
No kidding. ;D
I’ve picked up a hundred super valuable lessons from it, and here’re just some of the exceptionally meaningful ones.
1. Harm vs Offence
Lou Marinoff’s made the key distinction between offence and harm in his book The Big Questions (hey i specially did some research for this post kay!!), and this idea hugely influences my decisions everywhere. :)
Here goes! The difference between harm and offence is the main element of CHOICE— HARM is usually done to you by an external party, and its consequence is one you cannot prevent, i.e. you have no choice on whether or not you get harmed. OFFENCE, on the other hand, always has an element of choice. Someone offends us, but we can choose whether or not we want to accept the offence as something horrible and a grave insult to us. For example, if someone big and heavy steps on your foot (maybe breaking some small bones), that is harm. He trod, you can’t help it! But if that same person glares at your feet and comment on how it resemble furry cat claws (bear with me here hahaha, but yes laugh away, philo is fun :D), that is an offence offered to you. You can ignore it and reject that offence, or take it to heart and either knock his head, or feel depressed all day, or whatever occurs to your offended mind.
YOU CAN CHOOSE NOT TO GET OFFENDED— and that is key. :) Too many problems in this world today arise because people don’t know the difference between offence and harm, and to exacerbate the problem, don’t know that they can choose to reject that offence. To walk away and not care. :) Marinoff things juvenile violence can’t just be reduced via “anger management”… they need to know that in this world; at the playground in school later at work, there’ll invariably be people who insult them. The key lies in whether they choose to accept that offence and react, or smile and let it roll off like water on a duck’s back. If everyone makes a little effort to reject a little offence, to not be so offended and therefore not have any reason to be violent– well, there’ll be a lot less anger to manage all around, si? :)
Of course, things get way more complicated. Cumulative offence may lead to harm. If someone calls a morally-defenseless child ‘stupid’ everyday, he may grow up actually stupid (self-fulfilling prophecy) or be psychologically scarred. In which case, the rational person would do wise to remove himself/herself from the offender or offending stimulus; hey self-protection matters! And insult to oneself is bearable i guess, but what if people insult those you love? Can you just let it slip without retribution / without damaging your ego? What are the consequences of seeking ‘revenge’? Is having 2 mutually-offended persons make it better than having 1 offended/harmed person?
HvsO is easy to apply ;) i guess for me, every time i feel offended, i count to ten draw from my happy jar and really try my best to remember Marinoff’s distinction. If i’m not harmed, why bear a grudge? why get worked up? x) why… lose a friend? hate held in one’s heart makes him heavy. (splendid alliteration heehee). it works most of the time, but then again easier said than done, huh.
“A trifle consoles us because a trifle upsets us.” – Blaise Pascal
There’re a ton more lessons, so i’ll update later yay heading to my lovely bed goodnight ^^
note of warning for future philosophers though: please please write normal-length sentences MILL has sentences which are 2 paragraphs long (!!!) what is this hahaha ASDFGHJKL. rahhh i’m annoyed at how wordpress doesn’t have colour >: