• Alwia

My Dummies Guide to Really cool Philosophical Ideas- Part One

It’s a common misconception among many people that philosophy is dry, boring and confusing. Well this is very far from the truth (except the confusing bit, that’s actually quite true). In any case, I’ve decided to put together my dummies guide to some really cool philosophical ideas that will hopefully give you a taste of how simply amazing philosophy is.

Plato’s Cave Analogy

1-      Remember this guy?

This is the famous Plato who came up with the most amazing way of arguing that most people are just, well… stupid. He does this by using a very sophisticated and fancy pantsy analogy and most people fit in it. It goes like this:

There are people living in a cave. They’re tied to their place and have their backs to its entrance; and every time something passes behind them they see its shadow. For these people, these shadows are meaningful and real because all their lives they’ve never known any better. One day, now this is the good bit, one of these people manages to untie himself and escapes. He’s almost blinded by the sun, but with time, he gets used to this new world and realises that the shadows in the cave are nothing but illusions.  He gets excited and returns to the cave to tell the others that they’re basically living a lie. But they are so set in their own ways they can’t accept his words and kill him.

Moral of the story? Most people believe that they have a grasp of the truth, but in fact they are ignorant, living in a closed off world and not ready to be told the truth. Very few of us can actually escape this cave- by ‘few of us’ he means philosophers (Yes Plato was quite an elitist)

So the next time you’re frustrated with a dumb person you can turn around and say stuff like: ‘ignore him man, he’s still stuck in the cave’- and no one will know what you’re talking about.

2-      Boethius and Simultaneous Experience of Time

Earthquakes, genocides and all manners of catastrophes… It kind of sucks that God knows what will happen in the future but doesn’t stop them from happening. Well according to Boethius, what actually sucks is your assumption that God has forethought. No, no my friend, God experiences time simultaneously not chronologically. Which means He sees baby you, teenaged you, and adult you being mercilessly murdered, all at the same time. God doesn’t stop evil that will happen in the future, because it’s already happening in front of him. In a sense, everything is the present for God.   Cool right?

3-      Epistemological Distance

Remember that day when someone told you can’t prove God’s existence, and you had a crisis of faith?  Well it was very silly of you to get upset, because in fact, God doesn’t want people to be able to prove his existence with scientific precision. Why you say? Because this affects our free will in being able to believe in him. Still confused? Think of it this way: if I put a spoon in front of you and gave you the option of either believing that it exists or not, you’d think I was being silly (unless you’re a sceptic).

I mean it’s obvious that the spoon exists and so in some way you have no option but to believe that it exists- you’re forced to believe that it exists. If however I hid the spoon, you can freely choose whether it exists or not based on the information available to you. This is epistemological distance, God has to obscure his existence (basically not make it too obvious) so that you can freely choose to believe in him or not.


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