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Philosophy is Personal

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Looking Back

I thought Philosophy was a field of study like chemistry or physics; and it is, by virtue of its history. But there's also something deeply personal about it. The questions at the heart of Philosophy are questions fundamental to human life. Who am I? Who are we? What is my purpose? Am I living a good life? Philosophy is rooted in disquiet; by examining ourselves, we inevitably touch on ideas that pertain to all of us. How do we live together? How can we be fair and just to each other? How do we continuously improve as a people?

Philosophy has as much to do with legendary names like Plato and Aristotle as it does with me or you. It emerges out of the same unrest and curiosity at the heart of wisdom traditions like Zen, Buddhism, or Christianity. The questions, prayers, and koans we carry with us are the same questions that live at the heart of an entire field of study.

Where Philosophy is unique is that it asks these very fundamental questions in a scientific way—nothing is taken for granted and all knowledge it generates is rooted in human discovery. Philosophy is unique because, in being a method, it examines these perennial questions in such a way that can be poked at by others. Those same questions we carry with us every days are also a two-to-five thousand year old field of study. As relevant then as it is today.