Philosophy, translated from Greek as ‘love and wisdom’, is the study of the general fundamentals of life, existence, knowledge, values, and reason. 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. The psyche, the mind, often referred to as ‘the seat of human consciousness’, is the intellectual component that enables us to be aware of and experience our world. It is that with which we mentally process stimuli and that which enables us to think, reason, plan and make sense of the world around us. Some people believe the mind is the thinking-feeling element of what we know as ‘I’ but there is no conclusive definition.
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 ‘Thus Spoke 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.