Philosophy – basis of human development

WWorld Philosophy Day was celebrated on the 21st November by Unesco to underline the lasting value of philosophy and its impact on human development. The day was introduced in 2002 by Unesco. Its main objective was to renew national, regional and international commitment to philosophy; promote analysis and philosophical research and study major contemporary issues; and to respond more effectively to the challenges facing humanity today. It also aims to sensitize public opinion to the importance of philosophy and its critical use in the choices that result for many societies from the effects of globalization or the entry into modernity; take stock of the state of the teaching of philosophy in the world, with particular emphasis on unequal access; and to stress the importance of the universalization of the teaching of philosophy for future generations.

Unfortunately, the day went by without being noticed by many. Even universities and other higher education institutions did not commemorate this day. Educational institutions should organize seminars on this important discipline, which is the source of learning, innovation and creativity.

Many may ask why this is important, expressing their astonishment. As UNICEF says, citing thinkers, this “astonishment” is the root of philosophy. Indeed, philosophy stems from the natural tendency of humans to be amazed at themselves and the world in which they live.

This feeling of astonishment leads us to further questions, while this area claims a ‘wisdom’, teaching to reflect on reflection itself, with an ability to question well-established truths, testing hypotheses and delivering results.

Since the creation of the universe, humans have wondered about the mysteries not only of the earth but also of their birth. In all cultures, these investigations, intended to understand the hidden secrets of life, gave birth to philosophy, leading to concepts, ideas and analyzes. Thus, this medium provided the basis for critical, independent and creative thinking.

Unesco also believes that philosophy provides the conceptual basis for the principles and values ​​on which world peace depends. Democracy, human rights, justice and equality help to consolidate the foundations of peaceful coexistence. From this perspective, philosophy is the foundation of human knowledge which reflects historical progress, human development and the prevailing complexities.

Human life and the associated psychology are complex and a mixture of opposites – happiness and sadness; optimism and pessimism; and courage and fear. Life is a composite of multidimensional aspects that meet multiple political, social and biological needs while philosophy tries to answer very basic questions about life and related issues.

In a book written by Will Durant, Philosophy and social problem, philosophy has been described as “a study of the experience as a whole, or of a part of the experience in relation to the whole”. Thus, any problem can be a substance of philosophy, if it is analyzed in its totality in the light of human experiences and impulses passed through the ages. As such, philosophy is closely linked to all streams of knowledge.

Philosophy is a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown (as in metaphysics), or of the inaccurately known (as in ethics or political philosophy); it is the first trench in the seat of truth as described by Durant. Philosophy seems motionless, perplexed; but only because she leaves the fruits of victory to her daughters – the sciences – and passes, divinely discontented, to the uncertain and the unexplored.

More specifically, philosophy signifies and comprises five fields of study and discourse: logic, aesthetics, ethics, politics and metaphysics.

At the start of the assessment, life could have meant having food, shelter, clothing, and security to survive. The doors of philosophy have opened up new perspectives on life, teaching us that life is more than that. It led us to the notions of the greatest happiness of the greatest number, freedom, freedom of expression, rule of law. Each according to his needs and each according to his capacities, and the freedom of choice to enjoy fundamental rights. On the basis of these, welfare states were created, crystallizing philosophical thoughts.

The fact remains that many thinkers have had an impact on reform movements and revolutions. Rousseau’s writings are considered a precursor of the French Revolution. The writings of John Stuart Mill and Bentham paved the way for freedom and the welfare state in the United Kingdom. Voltaire has proven that he is one demolition squadron against the hegemony of the Church in European society. Montesquieu’s theory of the separation of powers influenced the development of the American Constitution. The philosophy of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and the thoughts of Lenin sparked the Communist Revolution of 1917 in Russia.

In relation to this, the Muslim world was faced with the dilemma of questioning moribund ideas and remained under the spell of dogma. The interrogation had been considered heresy, and those with new ideas were persecuted and ultimately put to death, in the face of the emergence of Europe in the 1600s and beyond. Philosophical deliberations freed the mind, with cataclysmic changes in intellectual, military and other facets of life, ushering in stability and prosperity. The forces liberated by the intellectual revolution in Western Europe led to the discoveries, inventions and diffusion of knowledge as well as to the domination of the West. With this, a new higher order was born, defeating the old, still dominating the world.

In this context, the lessons learned are that we need to open and develop an environment of free thought using reason as a tool for understanding. Philosophy therefore has a central role to play in formulating ideas for making a country prosperous, where no citizen should starve due to a shortage of food, where democracy flourishes and where every citizen has a equal chance to live a peaceful, safe and progressive life. .

Posted in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2021.

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