It may not be unfamiliar while watching or reading an interview of a well accomplished and successful person where the host asks a personalized question to the guest on what is their philosophy in life or what life philosophy do they follow or adopt that led to their success, etc?
What follows next is that sometimes you happen to understand the philosophy of the person and begin following them more.
But sometimes the words do not seem to make sense at all and you become critical of that person’s beliefs.
But have you ever considered why this happens?
This is because you happen to follow a different philosophy in life and so it is always possible for different individuals to have different preferences in life.
In this article, we strive to understand – what really is philosophy of life, its application in today’s fast paced life, the underlying concepts and a critical analysis of some of the most generally followed philosophies that people follow in their everyday life.
What is philosophy?
To begin with, the definition of philosophy in its simplest forms is nothing more than ways, thinking, values, questioning (including claims), answering and reasoning (including discussions, arguments and counter arguments with narratives and links to other philosophies) that governs and depicts the mindset of any individual person or a group of persons.
Application of philosophy in today’s fast paced world and its underlying concepts
The application of philosophy is often seen absurd in most fast paced societies around the world.
People belonging to such societies and cultures think that their current lifestyle is beyond following any particular philosophy.
They believe that they are already well settled or well established or even on the right track and are living their life to the fullest.
Well, a critical analysis of such behavior would conclude in the fact that not following any particular philosophy or nullifying all other philosophies is a philosophy in itself where you tend to challenge the conventional or traditional approach to following any particular life philosophy.
On the other hand, many people think that following a particular philosophy is associated with being highly educated or wise or to have a scholarly mind so as to accept or reject it.
What these both kinds of people do not realize is that they both do follow some form of philosophy.
Remember that philosophy does not mean being perfect or following a particular mindset wholly or in its absolute meaning, although there might be some exceptions to it.
The practical, literal, experimental nature of philosophy is actually happening every time whether someone realizes it or not.
For example, consider the reasons for the taking place of the following actions in your life and surrounding –
- Why you wake up early in the morning or at any particular time; or
- How many hours of minimum sleep you think is necessary for you; or
- Why you tend to love or hate some person; or
- Why you follow a different passion and a different profession; or
- Why you want to marry some person, start a family and spend the rest of your entire life committed to them only; or
- Why you want to work as an employee or become self-employed and venture into the business world on your own to build a team of dedicated workers; or
- Why you feel motivated or demotivated; or
- What inspires you or repels you; or
- What makes you feel connected with your loved ones and why you care for them; or
- Why you make friends or enemies; or
- Why you always sleep in a certain position at night; or
- Why do you become jealous or envy other people; or
- Why you feel that your survival is being challenged; or
- Why you encourage others to move ahead of you and become better than you are; or
- Why you watch movies at home or love watching them in a theatre; or even
- How do you love to spend your weekends such as by sleeping more and waking up late or following a normal weekday pattern? Etc.
So it turns out that almost all of the things and behaviors that you have been doing in your entire life and that you will do will certainly be as a result of following some form of life philosophy.
It is just that some people due to their spontaneous nature or as a habit ignore that the force behind their actions, attitude and thinking is actually stemming from some form of philosophy.
Hence it concludes that whether it is a deliberate or an undeliberate action and whether you are conscious or unconscious of its presence, the existence of a philosophy causing it remains undeniable.
Types of philosophies explained and their critical analysis
Now that we have established the existence of philosophies in the above section, let us now look at some of the most popular ones.
By reading these, you might be surprised to see that most of your beliefs that surround your actions are not actually only limited to you as an individual but other people also follow them.
So let’s begin.
According to the philosophy of ‘Presentism’, everything that is present is real.
It does not take into account what happened or what was present in the past and what will happen or become present in the future.
The only concept that underlies this philosophy is that it highlights the present and what exists now only and has nothing to do with the past or the future.
While this philosophy might seem real, in its absolute form, the existence of this philosophy itself is an unanswered question.
Believing in the present is only good to a certain extent.
It is good so far till it involves learning from the experiences of your past whether good or bad.
Then you can learn from this and reshape your mindset to reduce the chances of its occurrence in the future if it was a bad experience or making it better if it was a good one.
Beyond this, the philosophy of ‘Presentism’ should not be adopted for the mere reason that everything that is currently in present mode will eventually become a past.
Similarly, what is about to or will become a present is nothing but what currently is termed as future.
‘Eternalism’ is one of the most widely followed philosophies of all times and many scientific theories today are based on it and support this philosophy in one way or the other.
The philosophy of ‘Eternalism’ is completely opposite of the philosophy of ‘Presentism’.
The philosophy of ‘Eternalism’ takes into account all forms of time i.e. past, present and the future and believes in the existence of all three.
However, this philosophy considers the future time as something that will happen the way it is bound to happen and therefore no person has any control over it.
While this philosophy’s openness to accept all three forms of time is commendable, the fact that it limits any person’s role in reshaping their future is only half true.
This is because there are always two subcategories of each class of time.
One part is about the things that were bound to happen like the way they were, so human intervention could have done little or nothing at all to change its pattern.
Contrary to this, the other part is about trying your best and hoping that things will most certainly turn out in your own favor.
This gives rise to the idea that there is a possibility of altering your future to some extent at least.
Our third school of thought or philosophy is of ‘Hedonism’.
The philosophy of ‘Hedonism’ talks about having or seeking pleasure and trying to avoid the factors that lead to sufferings and painful life.
This philosophy does not take into account any moral values or ethical guidelines for the satisfaction of one’s pleasure needs.
Due to this approach, followers of this philosophy often end up in a highly regretful situation that does not go away easily.
In worst cases, the regrets they encounter live side-by-side their entire life and make conditions so unpleasable or devastated that such people often end up committing suicide.
A clear real life example can be taken of the life that most celebrities or social media celebrities live.
To the world, their life is full of pleasure, having everything that they want, living their life to the fullest or a dream life that many people aspire to live.
But despite all this glamour and pleasure filled experiences, many of these celebrities have ended their career or even their life in the most unexpected manner, with consequences that sometimes spread over much beyond their personal life.
This is because many of the ordinary people who chose to live such a life, aren’t aware of the complexities that they are subjecting themselves to, therefore they end up in trouble and terrible failures.
The philosophy of ‘Stoicism’ teaches a school of thought that encourages the development of an attitude that meets negative emotions with self-control.
It is a philosophy that emphasizes showing fortitude i.e. deploying courage in times of great pain and negative emotions, and dealing with them in such a way that normalizes any chances of possible self-destruction.
A good thing about the philosophy of ‘Stoicism’ is that those who practice it see negativity as something that can be dealt with on an independent and self-reliant basis.
Rather than giving lame justifications to validate negative feelings and reactions of anger, sadness or high emotions, the philosophy of ‘Stoicism’ encourages a behavior to fix these faults.
This is because when people start blaming or indulge in the habit of blaming things that are beyond their control or find justifications for their wrongful and destructive acts, the only person that they are actually harming is themselves and no one else.
The philosophy of ‘Nihilism’ is perhaps the most destructive and the most extreme version of a life philosophy that promotes extremely negative attitude and behavior.
For any person who practices or beliefs in the philosophy of ‘Nihilism’, it is not about personal gains or motives; instead it is more about causing ultimate damage and destruction.
As evident from this brief summary of the philosophy of ‘Nihilism’, it should be clear that no advanced or civilized society would approve such philosophy at least not in an open manner.
As a matter of fact, the philosophy of ‘Skepticism’ can form part of every other philosophy of life.
While many might argue that ‘Skepticism’ is not good, in reality and on a much practical side, it is actually the skeptical mindset or a skeptic attitude that causes change.
Being skeptic means being critical and having a questioning mind to learn more and advance further.
Skepticism or criticism can be both good and bad.
A good skepticism can help someone to progress, encourage and motivate towards the better.
On the other hand, bad skepticism can lead to demotivation in the majority of cases, also causing unwelcoming attitude and anger in the other person.
A good way to deal with skepticism is to be polite and thoughtful so as to look for ways to improve your current performance and abilities.
Humans by their very nature are curious creatures that have the urge to know about their surroundings and learn as much as possible, thus portraying a skeptic mindset or a questioning mind.
But the important thing to remember is that this questioning mindset should be restricted to certain limitations and should not in any case be allowed to ask reasons for things that are beyond its approach.
How to adopt the right philosophy in life?
Before moving towards the end of this article, it is important to understand the two most important things about how to adopt the right philosophy in life.
Remember that the philosophies discussed above in this article aren’t absolute, in fact some only provoke negative and irrational behavior.
Hence, before adopting any philosophy in life, learn about how much it teaches about what should be the real and actual purpose in life and with how much clarity or what degree of clarity does it associate with defining the purpose of your life.
A life without purpose is a totally useless life. A life with a purpose that is only limited to your own benefits is also useless.
A true purpose in life or the purpose of living life should be to have a purpose that benefits you and others as well in a positive direction.
And this is only possible when you have a clear vision or know your purpose with complete clarity.