We all know what Examen Philosophicum is. But beyond exams and dry requirements, what is philosophy? What is philosophy for you? And why should you reconsider it and stop calling beautiful Philosophia the Bogeyman.
I actually had to write an article about Philosophy Café, but I will not be able to talk about that and I am going to explain why. The first time I heard about the Philosophy Café was when they had a session about Kierkegaard, approximately two years ago. As I am a big fan of the Danish philosopher I was really happy and excited to participate. My Norwegian was far from good, but at least I could get the main ideas. I got red with frustration when, after 15 minutes of struggling to understand the lecturer and cursing my linguistic impotence, realization struck-he was Danish…
My second attempt was some weeks ago when I heard that a famous lady would talk about melancholy. Oh, how excited and happy I was again, and this time my Norwegian was really good so I could listen and understand all without any major problems. I got blue with frustration this time when she started to talk with a really strong Swedish-flavored dialect. I stood there the whole session honestly trying to decipher her utterances and giving up in the end when I found it much more constructive to start playing doodle jump on my phone. This is why I am not going to write about the above-mentioned subject, but instead I will try to plead for the practical uses of philosophy, for all of you out there that gave up on it.
When I first arrived in Norway, one of the things that shocked me most was how so many students HAD to take a philosophy exam. I thought to myself: how brilliant, these Norwegians are encouraging philosophical behavior, giving the tools of introspection and self-discovery to the young generation. How splendid! How marvelous!
My next step was to ask some of my fellow students their opinion about the above-mentioned issue. And then it struck me: philosophy had turned into the Bogeyman! I nodded worried listening to their opinions. Old Shakespeare came into my mind and his effect on young minds… I mean, Shakespeare is actually quite a cool guy if you look at what he wrote: relationship issues, family problems, seduction, madness, jealousy, love… He wrote about feelings, and the feelings of the people of his time were not much different from ours. But the sad thing is that Shakespeare sends a cold shiver down the back of any student who has to deal with his writings, and meets a very low desire from any reader to taste from his delicacies. The same with philosophy.
Cutting to the chase
But I can tell you why you should reconsider your position if you are among those who have nightmares with Plato and Aristotle and get an allergy when hearing the name of Heidegger or Camus: because it is all about YOU!
Yes, philosophy is about you! About what you are, how can you be more true to yourself, what «yourself» is. How to relate to the things around you. What is reality, what is your reality. Because it is all about what you feel: sadness, isolation, joy, love, passion, anxiety, lust, loneliness, and much more.
Philosophy does not want to come with answers, with conclusions. You will not read the recipe of how to reach happiness or how to get fast and forever in love. What philosophy does is providing the necessary tools. Tools that are already within you, waiting to be activated. The tools you can use in understanding better where you stand, what your truth is, because your own subjective truth is the only one that is relevant.
Philosophy helps you to think rationally, it is an expression of your personal freedom, an attempt to leave prejudices and social infections behind and think for yourself, to strip your soul naked and be honest about what you really feel and express that easily and clearly.
Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Don’t you think that is true? It is so important to assume your identity, to stay strong on your feet without being influenced about opinions from left and right. Philosophy helps you to do that. Philosophy shows you how the previous generations tried to define the same things you struggle with and how the contemporary philosophers adapt the trail of thought to the modern man, to you.
Do not take it as a boring history of fancy and complicated theories that don’t really help anyone and anything. It is more like the history of ideas, the history of attempts of clarifying our complicated existence, the history of a gang of people that squeezed their brains out so you can go through life really tasting its flavors, having genuine, authentic experiences.
I know that when you HAVE to do something, that something loses its charm and starts to taste bitter. It is another story when we can freely choose. That is why you should try and give philosophy one more chance and you might be very surprised about the results.
- Held at Kick, Dronningens gate 8, Kristiansand
- The last Wednesday of the month (January, February, March, September, October, November)
- Price for students: 50 kroner
- Check their homepage for more information and lecture-schedule
Text and photo: Erika Ramona Erdös – firstname.lastname@example.org