Philosophy, translated from Greek as ‘love and wisdom’, is the study of the general fundamentals of life, existence, knowledge, values and reason, and is perhaps the furthest discipline away from testable and observable Science. It is in our search for ‘meaning’ that leads us into the spheres of philosophical thought; in pursuit of answers to explain the profound nature of life, the Universe and ourselves.
Philosophy asks the deepest questions, such as,‘is our mind and our brain the same thing, or are they different and separate entities?’ And if they are different, does our mind operate the brain, or does the brain operate the mind? Where exactly anyway does our mind exist and, if in the absence of our mind, would we still exist? Descartes suggests, ‘I think therefore I am’, but if that is evidence of existence, where are we?
These are big questions still largely unanswered for many but it was the Greek Philosopher Plato that founded the Academy of Athens, where the knowledge mused over in 437-337 BC still influences and is discussed in the western world today. Socrates was the teacher of Plato, who is perhaps best known for the branch of philosophy known as Ethics or Moral Philosophy, that discusses defending and systematising the concepts of right and wrong. As Plato’s student, the orphan Aristotle discussed physics, metaphysics, aesthetics, poetry, rhetoric, politics and logic.
A later philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, is perhaps best known for his work entitled ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, a spiritual odyssey thought to be inspired by the preceding teachings of Goethe, Wagner and Schopenhauer, that describes the pursuits of an ancient Persian prophet, who founded the first world religion of Zoroastrianism.