I took a philosophy class a while back and I loved it. I have never wanted, so badly, to go back in time and have a conversation with some of these people. I wanted to watch Socrates lay bricks and talk to people. I wanted to tell Plato that I made it out of the cave. I wanted to tell Aristotle that perception isn’t always correct, but it can still be valid. I wanted to tell Thomas Aquinas that I totally get his “unmoved mover” theory, and that the Unmoved Mover moved me.
I love philosophy. I would think for a living if it paid. But I haven’t figured out how to charge for that, so I just get to think for a hobby, but by the time I’m finished, I’m usually too tired of the sound of my own voice in my head to write it down.
As part of this class, I had to write a letter to a philosopher, so I chose Fredrich Nietzsche. He was someone smart enough to make the history books, but shortsighted enough to think he was the primordial creator of his own experience. He only saw what was in front of him. That’s not such a good thing when you’re in a house of mirrors.
I’m sharing my letter because I think a lot of us can be shortsighted, too. We may not be philosophers, trying to find the meaning and origin of every action and reaction, but we fight against the tide in such a way that negates the laws of what we can’t see. The ocean, vast and powerful enough to hide unknown creatures and swallow massive ships, answers to the moon. But, Who does the moon answer to?
Here’s my letter:
Dear Mr. Fredrich Wilhelm Nietzsche,
I read a few of your philosophies recently and wanted to discuss them with you.
I understand that you can acknowledge that the world is driven by a cosmic will, but not by reason. Is it possible that the cosmic will that drives the world has reason that you may not recognize? I do not doubt your intelligence or the fact that you may have evidence that confirms your ideas, but it is that very intelligence that can cause a person to not be open to new lines of logic or to honestly follow an argument wherever it may lead. It seems that you have not found order to reason. Therefore, you believe that reason does not exist. Maybe, as intelligent as you are, it’s over your head. Just because you don’t understand, recognize, or are just dissatisfied with any proof of reason does not mean that there is none.
We are in agreement when it comes to a “mass that is only too willing to do what it is told.” The ‘herd mentality’ bothers me, too. I reject the societal tendency to follow the crowd even if the crowd is going where I want to go. If I am in any specific house, room, tent or umbrella of thought, I want to be able to have an intelligent conversation about why I am there and why I should or should not move on to the next thought destination. I may end up where the crowd is headed, but I will have had an honest journey of discovery and chasing clues on a trip that may or may not be mapped. On my journey, I don’t want to know what everyone else is doing and decreeing. I want an organic truth hunt no matter where it leads. I think we may be in agreement about the approach to life, but while I think I am discovering, you think you are creating.
A huge hindrance to discovering unknown-to-you truth is pride. You throw a rock and it hits just so that it creates a fire and you think you made it. It’s absurd to me to think that a mortal human being has just decided that he or she is creating little and big truths as they go. All the while, being ungoverned by reason in a world completely void of facts as you watch the same repeat itself in a relentless and lifeless cycle. I think that a rat running on his wheel in a cage could say the same thing. Paint one spoke on the wheel red and watch him run while he learns that every revolution brings a red spoke, so there is nothing new. The feelings of reasonless nothing with no absolute facts and no access to some sort of greater truth would feel as hopeless and full of despair as a rats’ cage would feel, too. Give a rat the brain of a genius, paint a spoke red, and take away his metaphysical insight and he’d come up with the same hopeless and cynical outlook.
What I am trying to say is if you do not consider that there is more to existence than what is right in front of you then you will never discover anything greater than what you are. If you are satisfied in your own greatness, then maybe that’s not such a problem. Just because you have never experienced something does not mean that it does not exist. It’s a small sad little life to be certain of only what you can see. It’s a life of something to shoot for and grow into if you can let your imagination take you outside of your rat cage and let your dreams expand as they begin to seep into your reality. If you think that your cage is the whole world, then you’ll never search for your chance to get out of it.