Philosophical life is the spiritual harmony between physical, emotional and spiritual human needs. People who are able to find the golden middle between these needs and satisfy the necessary physical needs and enlarge their spiritual world lead a valuable life. Those people who lead a philosophical life are really rich and happy ones. What does it mean to lead a philosophical life and is it possible nowadays? Our research paper casts light upon the essence of the notion of philosophical life with the help of examples of great philosophers and provides the characteristics of this way of living and probable obstacles hampering people to live in such away.
Socrates was a sophist and his way of life was considered to be a philosophical one. Socrates’ philosophical life was based on truth and justice with ourselves and the way we live; with others and how we treat them. Truth and justice make life worth living according to Socrates. Life without purpose is senseless. The main aim of philosophical life is to find its purpose. Leading a philosophical life means searching for the truth. According to Socrates, it is impossible to find the absolute truth. Only God knows the absolute truth. The only absolute truth that is available for a human being is “I know that I do not know”.
Factually, there was not anything threatening in Socrates’ philosophy but the government judged him for his philosophical way of life. There were always obstacles to such a way of living in ancient times. Socrates was judged by the government for corrupting the youth and unbelief. Socrates did not believe in the gods in whom the city believed and his way of life was considered to be impious (Plato). People did not understand his way of life and such a wise man aroused suspicion among them. When Socrates stood before the government and heard all his accusations he might have refused all his points of view but he did not do that. The inside harmony and personal beliefs are the most important in our life. If Socrates had been rejected from his values his life would have become senseless. His philosophy was the only treasure he had and he kept it.
Henry Thoreau in his work Walden or Life in the Woods casts light upon the importance of leading a philosophical life. He represents people who lead a desperate way of life because they are not free economically, not free in their minds and even in their habits. People live for the satisfaction of their necessities and they forget about the real values in their life. Instead of working to live, they live to work. People want more than they need and it is quite difficult for people to decide whether it is really needed for them or not (Thoreau). They want everything that makes their life better and they spend all their life satisfying their unnecessary desires. As a result, they pay for all luxuries with their own life. Having spent a lot of time and efforts to buy the things which are really unnecessary but wanted people to understand the senseless of their actions. That is why it is very important to power our life reasonably.
Thoreau presents the results of leading a philosophical life in the following words: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours” (Thoreau). Philosophical life means liberation in our hearts and our minds. Thoreau focuses on all aspects of it namely physical, intellectual and spiritual ones. People should equally learn from books and from actions or from thinking and doing in order to achieve harmony in his life.
Simplicity is one of the ways to achieve harmony and decide what is really necessary for our life. Simplicity is considered to be one of the necessary factors of leading a philosophical life. A real philosopher pays more attention to the spiritual things than to the material ones. Material things are not eternal and the pleasure from their possession does not last for a long time while spiritual values are eternal and cannot be spoiled or robbed by somebody. As for Thoreau, he went to Walden to find simplicity. Simplicity makes it easier to concentrate on the most important things of our life. Simplicity forces us to see what is real and necessary (Hoelting).
Solitude is another feature of the philosophical way of life. The majority of philosophers spent their time alone thinking about vital questions. Except for physical needs people have emotional and spiritual necessities. Thoreau provides the difference between solitude and loneliness. He considers solitude to be the state of oneness and presence with others and the world, whereas loneliness is its opposite (Thoreau). He points out: “We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers” (Thoreau). Loneliness is the feeling of alienation and separation from others and the world. Solitude and loneliness are not determined solely on the basis of whether one is alone or not.
As we can see from the above said the philosophical way of life helps to find real happiness in our life. People who satisfy not only physical needs but the spiritual ones too are really happy. As it has been pointed out before simplicity and solitude helped to lead a philosophical life. These factors are very complicated to achieve in the present life. Modern people are accustomed to the comfort and luxury provided by the modern world. Their life depends on material things and their happiness is evaluated according to their material state.
It has become too difficult for people to concentrate on their spiritual needs because they spend most of their time working and saving money for buying material things. Spiritual values are underestimated nowadays and people do not pay attention to their real needs. As for solitude it is also complicated to achieve as far as we live in the world inhabited by millions of people. We spend a lot of time communicating together. The different means of mass media and the internet pollute our minds. It is very difficult to find the truth in this global information flow.
Human life passes very quickly and people do not have an opportunity to think over its sense. They do not even notice when their old age comes. They reconsider their way of life only in the article of death. Even if we do not have such obstacles as philosophers had in the ancient time as for example Socrates who was judged for his philosophical way of life we have a number of other obstacles hampering the leading a philosophical way of life. I try to lead a philosophical way of life paying attention to my inner world and spiritual values. I try to find time to broaden my inner world by reading books and thinking over the sense and the priorities of my life. It helps me to make reasonable decisions and do the things which make me really happy.
Hoelting,Kurt. The Circumference of Home: One Man’s Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2010. Print.
Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates. New York: Hacket Publishing, 2001. Print.
Thoreau, Henry. Walden, or Life in the Woods. England: Dover Publishing, 1995. Print.