Why Am I Here: A Reflective Approach to Philosophy as a Way of Life

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WHY AM I HERE?:
A REFLECTIVE APPROACH TO PHILOSOPHY AS A WAY OF LIFE
IN THE ECLECTIC LIGHT OF
ANCIENT WESTERN THOUGHT AND
VIKTOR E. FRANKL’S MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING

CHAPTER 1

This world is an unfinished story. Everything tells more than it can listen to; and the unheard remains in silence which listens patiently and responds silently.
The rise of this age of technology and information has broadened our horizons of experience in and encounter with the world. Dating millions of years ago, archeological discoveries are not new to children born five years ago. Friendship is now a world-wide circle; one gets acquainted with another from the other side of the world in just few clicks. Different political ideals and strategies are adapted to cater to the political needs of people, never mind the traditional corruption. The boom in tourism industry manifests a macrocosmic culture-sharing. What appears to be a local event becomes a part of the global scene and thus, an already world-wide phenomenon through the seemingly pervasive mass media.

Indeed, this world has been cultivated drastically for a comparison of the past and the now is available to us; with this, we have a panoramic view of the world’s development. This change is so inevitable that we can say with tradition: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Developments are because they are needed; we invent things because this is a way we respond to our present situations; and we cannot escape from such realities because reality is a necessity. But we must not forget that necessity is not a once-and-for-all birthday celebration for all inventions. If that were so, Socrates and Confucius would have had philosophical dialogues via Skype. But no. That is not the reality we used to know; it is some sort of the wildest hypothetical hallucinations we can ever imagine. Rather, inventions are gradually developed as responses to different situations. Who then is held responsible? I suggest it is man.

We are held responsible to the situation we are in because we are called to respond to such and we alone can fulfill that task. We may say that our situation is a flow from the past. Yes, it truly is but there is no room for blame, I warn all of us. The now is a heritage, a rich history retelling itself, and never a curse; for the now is a present ready to unfold the untold mystery of tomorrow.

However, man is never a programmed software. If that were so, man would not be held responsible to situations for there had been no decision made in the first place. Man’s freedom makes the difference and this gives him the right to responsibility; man decides on what response to render a situation. Every decision made is accorded to the present which is the current presentation of life. Therefore, from a bigger picture, responsibility to situations of the present is also responsibility to life.

From this perspective of life, we may now be clarified more of what we mean by responsibility. Let us take the image of dialogue which is familiar to us pretty well. Aside from the two interlocutors participating in it, what keeps the dialogue going is the exchange of meanings between them. We see “response” activities which are recurrently spontaneous. Having given a response, a participant expects a response from the other in the dialogue. This exchange seems endless not unless the meanings are consumed to the dregs. Likewise, responsibility to life is an exchange of meanings; and man is held responsible for that. But “man” is such a broad thing. I suggest we limit our enterprise to the “I” which I do not intend to limit. I see “I” as an acknowledgment of one’s stewardship of and personality in life. Moreover, the “I” connotes a willing participation in the realities of life to whom, though “I” is not meant to change these, “I” finds itself responsible.

After all that has been stated, we arrive at the dialogue between life and “I”. Life responds in the present which is a fleeting...
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