The benefits of reading (or studying) philosophy

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When I am asked what I do for living and I answer that I am a philosophy teacher: usually I get rolled back eyes or some couple of seconds shock. These reactions are also followed by this question: do you read people’s minds? Can you analyze a person?

A philosopher is not a medium, nor a psychotherapist. Even the latter can’t objectively analyze a person from a glimpse. Let’s rewind and define philosophy and why it is needed urgently.

Philosophy is simple yet so difficult. It is a rational discipline that starts with astonishment which leads to questioning. The reason why I mentioned astonishment is because one is never able to question anything as long as everything seems normal. Questioning is critical thinking, bringing us all the way to conceptualization and redefinitions.

After this tiny introduction, here are the benefits of reading (or studying) philosophy:

  • Obviously, the first point would be critical thinking. Needless to say that the world today is chaotic due to bad managements and greed. Only rethinking the world, even as a solitary exercise, can broaden the horizon of thinking itself and open the mind to new possibilities.
  • Deep thinking and focusing on essentials or what matters the most
  • It makes us simultaneously more sensible and sensitive, capable of being affected by the abnormal.
  • It sharpens the eye and the mind so they become a radar to abnormalities (which are completely normal to others).
  • Philosophy is not only a theoretical discipline but it is practical also: for self-help, for ethics, for a better society and for a better human being.

Philosophy, like music, makes people smarter and braver. I haven’t read a philosopher who wasn’t brave enough to speak their minds and tell the truth, no matter where each one of them stood regarding the truth and other themes.

So are you to get a rolled back eyes reaction?

Is Happiness the Opposite of Depression—or Its Enemy? | Psychology Today

The title struck me. I never guessed that happiness could be the enemy of depression. Furthermore, a continuous sights of happiness, like in social media, can cause depression.

To whom it may concern, it is quite a special article, non traditional and insightful. Check it out by clicking on the link below.

Let’s say we are all going in a way down the dark road of depression. I sincerely hope not 🙏

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-techniques/202001/is-happiness-the-opposite-depression-or-its-enemy

How to deal with dark thoughts

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Don’t we all have them?

Imagine sitting alone, thinking of death, of hardships, of a scary phenomenon. Imagine all this happening to you or to your loved ones. Don’t you want to cry over your thoughts?

Hell knows where these thoughts come from. Is it imagination? Worse: is it intuition? Or is it a mental health issue?

Specialists (and I asked some of them) believe that professional help is needed in case of total disturbance of daily activities due to these thoughts. If not, then one can and must know their origin. It’s hard to tell most of the time whether these thoughts are imaginary or intuitive. They are intuitive if the thought becomes reality.

What is less known for common people is the normality of these dark thoughts. A “healthy” mind would have light and dark thoughts. All depends on one’s background and experiences and their interpretation of life.

One of the best ways to deal with dark thoughts is to try to know the cause of their emergence. Is it because of guilt or a feeling of failure? Is it because of deceptions in the past and fear of the future? We know the answers only if we choose to focus and understand. Once we know the cause, the solution is around the corner.

For heavier cases, speaking out is the path to remedy. Also activities such art, sports, yoga, meditation or any kind of activity that keeps the mind busy and helps boost self-confidence can help soothing the pain.

I noticed that dark thoughts emerge in my lonely boring inactive times. Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher, underlined the importance of boredom to reflect on the essence of life in his philosophical masterpiece: Being and time.

I have been trying to keep myself busy with what I like to do and to reflect on my dark thoughts in my alone times. I noticed that all of them have one origin: the fear of a future deception and loneliness. However, these thoughts have become much lighter and some images they brought disappeared.

How do you deal with your dark thoughts?

 

 

Forget about New Year’s resolutions and have this instead

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It’s New Year and the pressure of making resolutions pushes us to have a list of desires we want to achieve. It goes from losing weight to finding the One, blooming careers to earning more money.  Deception is prior to success usually.

The reasons to failure are countless but it is less about the lack of discipline then lack of clarity. New Year’s resolutions are whether too vague or too many. Starting a new year with new tasks, added to the daily hustles of life, implies dropping them.

Instead of having bucket lists of what to do on the upcoming year, there are two main attitudes that one must have, not only for the year ahead, but for their life.

  • Know what you want: perhaps it is the most difficult part of life to deeply know what one wants and what makes them happy. Then narrow the list to one or two resolutions; the lesser they are, the more chances are to succeed. No matter what the desire is, one must know that it takes effort, sacrifices and discipline in order to be satisfied. So, losing weight for example means food restrictions and sweating. Earning money means more risk taking, more investments and maybe more work. I can pick so many examples and they all require discipline. Imagine then having a whole list of resolutions what would be the result? Needless to say that failure will definitely be around the corner. Logical, isn’t it?
  • Let go of toxic people (and everything that bothers you): most of the time good intentions and strong will are there but people around us can be a little too negative. Toxic people are the ones who will break you, discourage you, and scare you from the unknown. I’m not taking about the good friend who gives an honest opinion and tries to show you the obstacles. I’m talking about the negative vibes brought constantly by some people. Shut the door and keep them outside. They might be the ones behind your mid-year resolutions failure. Logical too, isn’t it?

And to you beautiful people, I want to wish you a happy New Year, at least better than the one before.  I hope that your dreams become reality in 2020. Peace and love for everyone and thank you for making me part of your blogging life.

My desire for this year is to grow this blog. What about your resolutions?

Learn the art of public speaking with Aristotle!

 

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Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who lived in the 4th century BCE, during which he met Plato and became his disciple. Unlike the master, Aristotle is known as the realistic philosopher and he wrote on many subjects, ethics, politics, logic, nature and of course on public speaking. In his book called On Rhetoric, he explains the art of persuasive speaking by pointing out three types of speeches: deliberation, demonstration and judiciary.

The deliberative speech is mostly used upon weighing options to make a decision.

The demonstrative speech is about rational arguments demonstrated in a logical order.

The judiciary speech is for sanction or condemnation.

The three types can be intertwined as well as separate. For each situation, there is a persuasive speech. Therefore, unlike Plato’s position on rhetoric, Aristotle firmly believed in the importance of speeches and oral communication in many fields. Against Plato, he rehabilitated rhetoric and his book On Rhetoric became wildly read by famous orators such as Cicero, Quintillion and many others. While philosophy was not interested in persuasive speaking and preferred literacy, the Roman Empire progressively started to prefer social status and political power to rhetoric. Slowly, the importance of public speaking faded away.

Aristotle thought of tools and conditions of a persuasive speech of any type by emphasizing on three main concepts: Ethos, Pathos, Logos, as they are tools and conditions of an efficient communication. Let’s delve a bit more in those concepts.

Ethos: meaning in Greek character, ethos is the appeal to authority and credibility of the public speaker. Being reliable and credible is a sure way for the orator to persuade its audience, also using reliable and credible arguments. Otherwise, the audience will not adhere to whatever he or she says.

Pathos: meaning suffering, passion; it is used in a speech as an appeal to emotions, by evoking emotions in the audience with used arguments. One can play with fear or hope, dreams and worries, like we see in political speeches today.

Logos: meaning reason, it is the appeal to logic in arguments used in persuasive speaking. This is also a powerful tool because the orator can prove his arguments or use them in a rational demonstration which is the convincing part of a speech.

Combining those three elements can make any verbal communication persuasive and efficient. Aristotle, unlike Plato, considered that not all rhetoric is bad: it all depends on its content mostly and on the way it is delivered.

Looking at the public speaking large scene, we can say that speakers are using demonstrations, rationality as much as provoking emotions. However, ethos is lacking.

Stop writing and start talking!

 

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(Statue of Cicero, the Roman orator)

Being condemned by Plato for being essentially manipulative, rhetoric (the art of persuasive speech, also known as sophism) is back as a new trend in philosophy, especially in the French system of philosophy teaching. So what is it all about?

The new trend of public speaking or in front of a camera, popularized by social platforms such as TED Talks, You Tube, podcasts and the video making in stories posts, rhetoric, the longtime enemy of philosophy, has been for some years, the new way of teaching, coaching or delivering messages. On the other hand, reading/writing has become more inclined to blogs, articles, caption and tweets, while books are taking the second row place. Hence, one can see the success of short stories.

In spite of the efforts of Aristotle to rehabilitate rhetoric as a needed method in some fields (discussed in further blog posts), philosophy took a different path. In fact, after Plato, philosophers left the oral scene to politicians and public speakers and preferred writing their ideas and concepts.  The result was the elitist character of philosophy, only reserved for professionals and initiated minds, for scholars and some eccentric people. Was it their aim to be elitists in the first place? I can’t say so but somehow it is not far from being true.

Should philosophy adopt orality instead of literacy? The French for instance, decided to turn rhetoric into a discipline to be taught in schools as an elective course of philosophy and literature. And we must not forget the growing numbers of philosophy conferences everywhere.

That being said, and after centuries long battle between philosophy and rhetoric, philosophers will be present more and more on the talking platforms. But, if you want to master communication, you have to consider reading Aristotle!

For more insights on Plato’s position on rhetoric and its effect on society, you can check these posts:

Reblog: Introduction to Plato: Foreshadowing and Prefiguring — Discourses on Minerva

What are archetypes and how do they influence our relationships?

Plato’s allegory of the cave or why stupid people took over the world!

Wonder-full: Or how to be amazed again in 5 tips !

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The ego is very important. It allows us to look after ourselves, to cover in winter, to eat when hungry, to seek shelter for safety, to interact with others. Constituted mostly from our primary instincts and from our habits and thoughts patterns, the ego is our living kit.

Anxious people are caught in their inner narrative speech: who am i? What to do? How to act? What people would think of me? What if I fail? Etc. In other words, they are caught in fear. This turns the ego into a rigid machine operating upon one’s dominant thoughts patterns and narrations. In other words, this dragon ego will prevent a person from being emotionally touched by new experiences.

This calcification of the mind leads to a calcification of life. Only the ability to be open to anything new can make us hear melodies in daily noises and annoyance. An enhancement of the mind comes from new perceptions of the very close and, paradoxically, the very far. Life is to be amazed by the wonderful: the “wonder-full”. And why not to believe in mermaids and unicorns? Ideas are not supposed to be normal but extra-ordinary.

Here are some tips that open the mind to amazement (they worked for me so I am sure it will work for you too):

  • Workout, workout, workout: the power sensation over yourself alongside your body image enhance self-confidence, give energy and is an anti-ageing process, both for the mind and for the body
  • Yoga: needless to point out its benefits on yourself and on humanity. The headstand, also called the King of asanas, sends a blood flow to your heart and to your brain, making you feel calm, concentrated and so happy, you would smile from your liver!
  • Meditation: few minutes a day is a good start. Close your eyes and inhale and exhale slowly. Start counting backwards from 11 to 1 and when you reach 1, start from 11 all over again. 11 inhale, 11 exhale; 10 inhale, 10 exhale and so on. With time, it will change the structure of the brain!
  • Walking, preferably in nature. This also brings oxygen to the soul. The impact of nature on us is magical. Pay attention to colors, shapes, sounds. If not, any good walk outside will change your life.
  • Reading: shut the world outside and read a good book of your choice. It works on imagination and opens the mind.

From the latest statistics of the World Health, 74% of the world population is under stress and anxiety. I’m not sure about the number but anyway it is scary. To achieve peace within ourselves, to become amazed like children, one must take actions. Because life is worth it and because the world is wonder-full!