Why do we think the way we do in the western world? A few years ago I read a delightful book – Sophie’s World – which introduced me to philosophy. When I was a young student I disliked philosophy. But this book changed my mind about philosophy and led me to explore why we westerners think the way we do.
It took more than two thousand years for the western world to develop and focus on concepts that are driving our political, religious, financial, and many other aspects of our life. There are many books about philosophy and philosophers. They are a menu of what thinkers said and who they are. Ed and I are looking instead for something else.
We started this project a few years ago. We meet on Saturday for about a couple of hours. We talk about business for a few minutes. Ed is a banker. When we are ready to get “serious” one of us reads a few pages about the philosopher we are studying. Then we discuss what impressed us, trying to understand the main points of the philosopher’s thoughts. I take notes. We follow a chronological order. By doing so we have the incentive to study also the economic times and how and why the philosophers said what they said. This is very important for the concept I am following.
I think, after more than two years, that I am beginning to have a picture of the historical thinking transitions. I must confess it is an exciting one. It is not perfect, but I am beginning to see some light.
We think the way we do because times change. We must change to find ways to cope with these changes. We must find new solutions to familiar problems, but each time they have a different level of complexity as science tempts us with new innovations. Right now the main branches of philosophy are logic/artificial intelligence, psychology, and economics/political science.
Well, I wanted to tell you how we got here, but I will have to try another time.
(This Observations appeared in the 2-18-08 issue of The Peter Dag Portfolio ).
George Dagnino, PhD Editor,
The Peter Dag Portfolio.
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