We all essentially practice philosophy on some level. Any conscious decision calls upon the basic tenets of philosophy. For example, one’s daily diet is based on such. Modern definitions of philosophy may carry social stigmas with them and call upon other similar terms, such as; logic, reason, and rationality. Or, people may envision of deep chasms of thought without solution. Others may think of ancient Greek pedophilia. These stigmas only blind their subscribers.
Philosophy, in my opinion, is best practiced without announcing it. A novice philosopher is likely to reach for basic syllogistic form:
1) 1 = 1
2) 1 + 1 = 2
3) Thus, 2 is a composition of 1 and 1
4) Therefore, duality (2) cannot exist without singularity (1)
This is an old form, and is a straight line to logic. Though, it is not all powerful, nor, is it infallible. More importantly, for most people, it’s a bit basic and overbearing in a discussion. It has more of a peer oriented appeal as opposed to angling a public audience.
I have learned in my own practice of philosophy that, in order to be effective, its presentation must be as dynamic as the individual it reaches. Humans are logical, yet they are also creative, emotional, and instinctual. Also, we are much more open to persuasion than force. A person would rather be asked than told. If they are to be told, they will only pursue intrigue.
Relying on logic for conversation limits the scope and power of the potential range inherent within communication. Also, we are not walking calculators – we are so much more. The first rule is a golden one – speak to others as you would like to be spoken to. There are three primary focuses in classic writing: Logos, Pathos, Ethos.
Logos is Greek for logic.
Pathos denotes empathy, or, emotional appeal.
Ethos represents ethics.
A writer will go far with these concepts in mind. When combined, these components reflect a very human comprehension and appeal. Logic appeals to the left hemisphere of the brain, composition, practical application, and reason. Emotional value applies creativity, sensitivity, empathy, compassion, personality, heart…as well as building the foundation for the third component – ethics. Ethical demonstration is a social facet in our communication and a display of our humanity. Ethical values build an image comprised of integrity, honor, courage, social designation, …etc…or, may be used to portray reverse images, as well.
Logos, Pathos, and Ethos are consistently present in our conversations, regardless, whether we are voicing ourselves audibly, or in writing.
Logos – Propose the logical foundation for your writing. Pathos – lace the logic in your writing with emotional appeal – or, relation to personal meaning. Ethos – adhering logic and empathy to a social fabric and moral code.
There are a myriad of philosophers and examples, but for this purpose, let us consider the artful form of Albert Einstein:
“When, after several hours reading, I came to myself again, I asked myself what it was that had so fascinated me. The answer is simple. The results were not presented as ready-made, but scientific curiosity was first aroused by presenting contrasting possibilities of conceiving matter. Only then the attempt was made to clarify the issue by thorough argument. The intellectual honesty of the author makes us share the inner struggle in his mind. It is this which is the mark of the born teacher. Knowledge exists in two forms – lifeless, stored in books, and alive, in the consciousness of men. The second form of existence is after all the essential one; the first, indispensable as it may be, occupies only an inferior position.”
(Albert Einstein, 1954)
Albert Einstein, the author of this excerpt, seems to leap from these lines. There is a sturdy logical framework here, but it is laden with self reflection, introspection, profundity, wisdom, ethical ideology, creative recognition through self knowledge, displaying a personal relationship with the concepts illustrated and initiating a journey with the audience…
…to name a few components that compose enlightening writing.
More importantly, Einstein does not seem to contrive his open contemplations, here. His honesty pours onto the page with a quiet authority grounded by the reader’s own recognition. The illustration of his self reflection is extracted through the teacher’s own rich trials of comprehension.
Notably, Einstein discusses the recipe of the “born teacher” in this dialog – and appears to be unintentionally revealing himself in the description. One might wonder whether the professor had aimed on himself in elaborations on such ideals. If so, it seems to exhume these notions with humility and some inherent nobility.
As with any art form, greatness is built upon the foundation of the artist’s clarity. Beyond philosophy, beyond tradition, beyond average, more profound than logic – and into genius…