In what ways can philosophical studies, thought processes and/or understandings be useful and applied in making this crazy world a little less crazy.. what hope can philosophy bring!

Thank you,

Jessie xox

Philosopher's reply

Dear Jessie,

Thanks for your question! You mentioned ‘hope’. Seneca, the stoic philosopher, said hope was connected to fear. He advises adapting more to the present than projecting our thoughts too far ahead. When humans look for meaning in life, we look for stories. But in today’s ever-changing world, there is no clear story. Before technology + news streams, we focused on cramming information at school. This made sense as information was scarce. But teachers do not understand the world as well as they once taught/thought! You are bombarded with streams of info, with no time to absorb or understand it. This can cause feelings of hopelessness. Maybe the last thing a teacher should do is give you more information! Philosophy can give time and attention to make more sense of all the information coming at you. It will give you thinking tools to help you figure out what’s important, what’s real. The world might seem crazy if you try to hold on to some stable identity or story. Everything changes, the body, brain, mind. You can’t control that but you will need mental flexibility and resilience to meet these changes.

For 1000s of years, philosophers have urged us to ‘know thyself’. Get to know yourself better than your algorithms! Attend to your unanswered questions about the world in the present and this will help deal with both fear and hope about the future.

Hope this partly answers your question and you are compelled to explore more philosophy. Like Iris, Seneca wrote lots of letters and in one of his letters to a young friend he says “what I advise you to do is not to be unhappy before the crisis comes…’ Believe me philosophy is far from useless!

Regards, Susan A.

Philosopher's profile

Susan Andrews

Philosophy Ireland

Iris's reflections on art and story telling resonates with me. Humans are natural storytellers, according to Iris, helping us to make sense of our "alarmingly formless rubble of a life". Storytelling plays a big part in my philosophy classes I teach to young people. Students' moral questions about the world are stimulated by stories, reflecting Iris's suggestion that art can play a role in our ethical lives. Exploring their questions stimulated by Art and Literature offers a version of truth without prejudice, showing young people that in the midst of modern chaos their moral questions matter.

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