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Why i left Philosophy

Updated on March 10, 2016

Introduction:

Philosophy has been a way for people to reason about concepts such as reality, love, hate, war, Truth, etc. Philosophy was the way of the enlightened. I thought Philosophy helped me to truly know more about the world but i ultimately grew dissatisfied with the answers it gave me.

Frankenstein
Frankenstein

"Few creatures of horror have seized readers' imaginations and held them for so long as the anguished monster of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The story of Victor Frankenstein's terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense. Considering the novel's enduring success, it is remarkable that it began merely as a whim of Lord Byron's.

"We will each write a story," Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron's proposal.

The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, "would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart."

 

Mary Shelly's novel “Frankenstein” was my main inspiration for being a philosopher. I was also exposed to Rene Descartes and others. I would spend quite a while trying to construct arguments for why God exists, counter-arguments for the problem of evil, how God works, how nature works, what beauty and love are, etc. I often had debates with my brother to test my logical arguments and correct any mistakes made. I wanted to become a great thinker of my time.

What stopped me? It's simple – Science. Indeed Philosophy is creative and engaging. Finding ways to justify beliefs in the face of counter-arguments was a challenge. Despite all this, i found there was a drawback. It took an imaginative mind to establish solid definitions but they were no where near as precise as those in science. Scientific definitions were built on precise measurable observations. My philosophical definitions were limited to my creativity and knowledge of abstract representations.

Forming arguments was an intellectual exercise. For example, i spent hours comparing and contrasting my argument for God's existence with others such as the Ontological argument, cosmological, etc. My argument came very close to proving his existence but i felt one small thing was missing. The whole idea was brilliant but it was incomplete unless i could concretely prove that he existed. This seemed impossible with the rationale of the philosophic mindset. There was nothing in nature that implied his existence. Terms such as existence, God, reality, nature, and so forth were too vague to grasp such a vast concept. What was i missing? The fact that the Bible never describes God in this way. In Hebrew thinking, the faithful Israelite was concerned with personal experience of YHWH (1) not rational justification of his existence.

My whole quest to logically prove God fell apart. I was a bit astonished to find that my whole perception of how God worked was wrong by studying Science. What do other religions say about God? How are they different from what philosophers think? My own ideas of God were drastically different from the ancient and original source of the Bible. The flaws of intuition also made me question the principles of Philosophy. For example, it's often argued that God is malevolent for allowing evil to occur. You would think that preventing evil is an act of good right? Not according to psychology. Any event that occurs does not cause suffering. It is our negative attitudes and beliefs of those events that cause our misery. Positive attitudes equal positive results and growth on the person's character (2). How can God be evil for allowing positive attitudes shape our identities and personal growth stemming from suffering?

This is one of many examples. I realized that there was more on the correlation between the brain and mind than mind-body dualism would have me believe. There was more to sex than a preconceived notion that it was all connected to love. I was surprised to see what i believed to be true by logical deduction was false by observational induction. Had i not been in tune with the facts, i would have continued holding my beliefs with no way of objectively verifying their authenticity. I would have continued justifying them unless i made a personal decision to re-evaluate them. With Science, there was no other around it but through the conclusions reached. The facts were laid out – Take it or leave it. Philosophers have been struggling with arguments over God's existence for centuries. Would it ever end?

Just because i could justify a belief, didn't mean that i had made the correct conclusion. I could choose to rationalize why my beliefs were right and ignore any objections. What frustrated me even more was that the logic was all subjective. Philosophers could argue all day long about what it means to exist but who is right in the end? Slowly i became disappointed with the route that Philosophy brought me. I saw the Truth was ever so distant. I saw that Science was the one of best ways to learn about the world.

Summary:

In conclusion, I accepted that Philosophy was nothing more than a mere past time. It was a recreational hobby for social gatherings but it would not lead me to the Truth. No matter how logical my ideas were, i could never overcome my greatest enemy – Myself. I could never challenge them because i would be too busy trying to justify them in my own mind. I've learned to accept the scientific facts wherever they led me. From then on, i turned to Science for understanding and never looked back.

Sources:

1. http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/heb_grk.pdf

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_psychology#Suffering

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201502/8-negative-attitudes-chronically-unhappy-people

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