In one of our final guest posts before the Summer, Eve M considers how her study of philosophy at A Level has shaped her view of the subject.
Philosophy wasn’t what I thought – a reflection: Eve M, Year 12, Kings Norton Girls’ School
If someone took me back to GCSE results day a year ago and asked me if I knew what Philosophy was really all about, the answer would be no.
With having no background knowledge of Philosophy I didn’t really know what to think of it, let alone having a pre-conceived idea of what I thought I knew. However, with studying Philosophy for a year now I can raise the question ‘do we really know anything?’ Take Plato’s cave analogy, for example, is what we believe and see to be true actually true? No one really knows how the world works, yet alone the ideas and beliefs of this world. I could say that I knew and understood philosophy 100% and there would no question you couldn’t ask me. Yet, that is incorrect. If Philosophy has taught me anything, it is that we can never fully know anything.
One thing that I can say about Philosophy is that I did not realise how much certain
theories/analogies could play with your mind. We have all grew up with knowing and sensing what we see to be real and for someone to say that it isn’t very confusing, to say the least. Going into Philosophy, I didn’t realise how challenging it would be to study in depth different Philosophical ideas when some people would look at them and straight up say that they were stupid and bizarre. I’m pretty sure if I were told before studying Philosophy that the world we live in isn’t real I would have laughed in their face. Yet, now I can reason why people may hold this view, as I understand the argument and the points it holds.
I would say that Philosophy is single handedly the most complex subject that I have ever studied. Why? Because it gets you to question things that you once wouldn’t have blinked an eye at. By studying Plato’s allegory of the cave, you are told that the world you live in is not the real world and the things you see and experience are simply shadow versions of the actual objects. Or, being told that as nothing comes from nothing and the universe exists, something must have made it, and this something must be God. For a non-religious person, this statement would be ridiculed. Philosophy gets you to debate things and question certain ideas, however, there can never be a right answer that everybody agrees on. Some people may see this as a bad thing yet because there is no firm right answer philosophy can be explored endlessly and newer philosophers and modern thinkers can come up with new ideas every day.
Philosophy wasn’t what I thought as I did not know what to think. My advice for people who are thinking of studying Philosophy is that you need to go in with an open mind. Pre-conceptions don’t mix well with Philosophy, as you need to challenge and analyse the world around you. I’m not saying that if you have a firm belief you shouldn’t study Philosophy, but you need to be willing to look at different ideas and accept what they are saying, not necessarily meaning you have to agree. With starting Philosophy not even knowing what The Cosmological Theory was or not being familiar with scholars such as St Augustine and St Irenaeus I would say I have come a far way. Philosophy is about ideas, not facts. So take into consideration that just because you believe one thing another person may not. Philosophy wasn’t what I thought; yet it is hard to have a pre-conceived idea of what Philosophy actually is.