For me, the whole point of doing philosophy, of understanding who we are and what we are as humans, and of understanding our lives can be compared to the simple act of writing that as a student, I can very much relate to.
I personally love to write, especially in my native language, Tagalog. Each time I decide that I want to write, I can think of the best beginning and end that would perfectly support my chosen topic. However, as I write, I tend to stop. In the course of my writing, the ideas and thoughts that I previously had seem to cease and I cannot go on. I often find myself thinking and wondering what would be the best direction I can take to be able to reach that perfect ending that I had in mind. I get confused a lot and most of the time, I become undecided.
Now that I think about it, this is no different from the life that we live as individuals, and as part of society. As humans, we always already know that our existence in this world has a definite beginning and end—that is, birth and death. We know for a fact that our time on this earth is limited; that we are mere mortals. And it is precisely because of this fact that we often find ourselves worrying, and sometimes even fearing, the idea of death. We are very anxious of making our lives worthwhile so that we can say to ourselves in the end that we have lived a good life. We will all end up with the same fate and there is nothing we can do about it. In the end, what would matter is how we have lived our lives—what we have done, what we have achieved—in reaching that end which is death. In other words, what matters is the direction that we have chosen for ourselves in living the life that we want.
However, for me, there is no better achievement that a man can get than to understand who he is and what he is as a person. In our lives, we would often be confronted with different challenges, we would be introduced to various cultures, ideas, and concepts, and we would meet people who differ from us. All these experiences, and their influences, can change the way we view our lives, and even the way we view the world. These, too, can have an effect on the direction that we have chosen for ourselves. We will get confused. We will doubt if the path that we are on is the right one.
This confusion—doubt— now leads us to the main argument of this essay. This will revolve around the idea that we, humans, are thinking beings and that we are capable of discerning what is right from wrong—that we have the ability to make decisions for ourselves in living our lives. This essay will explain the relationship between the idea that we are thinking beings and why we do philosophy, why we question, the problem of philosophy, our existence, the existence of others, language, and self-understanding.
We, humans, have always been curious about our surroundings. We never fail to wonder. We have this innate characteristic of wanting to know how things work. This natural curiosity could be traced back to the Greeks. During the ancient times, the Greeks were always in awe and in astonishment for nature. They concentrated on what is there—on reality as it presented itself. What mattered for them was the nature of things: how they worked, and what it is that is already contained in each thing. In other words, they valued the substance or the whatness of things. For ancient thinkers, things existed by acting out their substance—their whatness—which remained potentially in them.
In applying the notion of substance to human beings, Aristotle asked, “What is the substance of being human, and how is it acted out?” Aldo Tassi gave an answer to this question by saying that, “The world of Aristotle is populated by entities each of which possesses a nature enabling it, by virtue of its relationship to other things, to be or to develop what it is. The terms by which anything is are already fully contained in each thing and if we are to do justice to things, we must allow ourselves to be...
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