Diaries Magazine

Philosophical Questions?

Posted on the 04 July 2022 by C. Suresh

I generally get astounded when I am accused of asking philosophical questions. I suppose I ought to feel flattered, and I would, but for an inconvenient fact. When you ask a question and someone says, "That's a philosophical question", it inevitably follows that the question is to be totally ignored. See, philosophy is all good when you are three pegs down and maundering about the thusness of things with your friends...much like most people's philanthropy really...you know, the sort of thing that you just talk about in the abstract, not something meant to be...err...practical. Or meant to be practiced.

I mean, really, what is so automatically philosophical about asking, "What does success mean to you?" I mean, after all, whether becoming the fastest man to run the 100m sprint, or to become the CEO of a multinational or to be an entrepreneur is the meaning of success to you that will determine where you focus your efforts, right? What's philosophical about that?

Of course, the next question would get deeper. WHY do you choose that as your measure of success? Is it because you never feel more alive than when you are running at top speed or is it because you are seeking the fame and adulation that may follow? THAT's a different question...but still a practical question. Because, that'll let you know whether athletics is the only thing you want to do OR whether your skill-sets allows you other alternatives to pursue that adulation/fame/whatever.

Essentially, then, we are asking what makes you happy about success. When you choose what you want to do with life, is it not practical to follow that path which will make you the most happy? Are you never more happy than when you are partying with friends or does happiness mean curling with a book for you? Do you get your highs when you crack a difficult algorithm all by yourself or are you jumping with joy only when you succeed as a team? Are you never more alive than when you are risking life and limb doing rock-climbing or is it your idea of fun to be sipping whisky on a river cruise?

Now, if I were to follow through all those queries with a dissertation on how all mortal joys are ephemeral and the only true joy is...well, if THAT was where I was heading, you can accuse me of philosophy by all means. But, really, to ask you to know what you want...I mean, come on, don't you assess as much when you plan a effing vacation? Do you choose to travel by sea knowing you are prone to sea-sickness? OR climb mountains for a holiday when climbing a short flight of stairs leaves you panting?

The problem, I suppose, is that all of this ends up in your having to 'know yourself'. I mean, this 'Who am I?' seems to be the root of all philosophy. So, the moment someone asks you anything about yourself which is not in your CV, your knee-jerk reaction is 'Ah! Philosophy!'

AND, yes, then you think of it as something that is best left for the post-retirement period when you have nothing else to do but ponder about such 'useless' things...OR, as you may see it, things of the 'spirit' which is for the time when the body is giving way.

But, tell me, what chance do you have of knowing your place in the Cosmos when you do not even know what you like doing in your life?

Now THAT, I suppose, is going to be derided as philosophy, again!

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