To believe or not to believe: Is it a philosophy? | Daily News

To believe or not to believe: Is it a philosophy?

Quite a lot of books have been written on the subject of philosophy. But does it mean that the subject known as philosophy is well construed by the masses? According to many great thinkers like Sartre and Descartes, the subject known to the world as philosophy tend to change and evolve embracing other allied fields like education, communication, sociology and literature.

As such, each discipline evolved in the human circles tend to create a special affiliation from one in the relevant fields of study. This has paved the way to differentiate and separate the identity of the earliest disciplines of philosophy into the fields of study. As such, the terms like ‘Philosophy of Communication’, ‘Philosophy of Religious Studies’, ‘Philosophy of Literature’, and ‘Philosophy of Education’ have emerged in varying forms.

The book titled ‘Philosophy: something to believe in’, by Richard Paul T Janaro is intended to be read as a book about ‘Philosophical belief’ that does it initially mean? It is basically not a book of history and various concepts of the accepted conventional forms of philosophy handed down over the centuries.

Nature of belief

Neither is it a collection of readings by philosophers although it does contain many passages and interpretations from their various works. It is an introduction to the nature of belief. An attempt has been made to penetrate the conceptual frames of various philosophers who have dealt with the forms of beliefs these humans have held over the centuries to make the lives better existential forms.

As such the philosophers and their works triggering from the earliest stages of mankind to the present level of existence have been traced in ten chapters. A discerning reader interested in various forms of human beliefs ought to find various factors pertaining to human beliefs over the centuries. The ten chapters are subdivided into subjects pertaining to various beliefs. They go as ‘The Way of Philosophy’, containing an introduction to how the subject sprang up in the seats of learning in countries like Greece, China, India and various parts of Europe.

The chapter contents underline the technique of living, where the etymological genesis of the term philosophy is traced. It is by far denotes the ‘love of wisdom and that a philosopher is a person who pursues the truth for the smile of doing it.

Rational activity

Furthermore, if there is a universal bond among all who indulge in philosophical inquiries, it surely is their love of knowledge or the passion for rational activity from developing an opinion on some controversial issue to reaching a complex system of interweaving beliefs. According to the writer Scholar, Janaro, one could say that the philosopher does not have to be a great and famous human being.

There are thousands of philosophers living quietly among us. They, from time to time, tend to look very much like everyone else. They marry, have families, and hold various types of jobs. In this manner, the reader is given the impression that the subject known as philosophy though looks like a specialised area of study, is nevertheless a day to day study of happenings culminating in events and circumstances.

The people living among us, who know about things around us, at times, believe in certain unconventional ways. They too are a type of philosophers. Chapter two titled ‘Ultimate Substance’ is an attempt to go deeper into the concept of belief. With reference to the beliefs pertaining to the basic of all existence. What are the factors that go into the existence of a being? The writer scholar attempts to trace several religious and spiritual as well as mystical factors known to humans.

In this direction, the writer Janaro attempts to introduce the teachings of religious leaders like the Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu and Christ. The writer tends to depict that beliefs differ from culture to culture. But they too have a certain degree of unanimity or commonness in the latent forms. He too lays down fundamental factors by way of philosophical anecdotes, parables and dialogues to show the commonness in belief.

Interesting methodology

To enhance this approach, he collates the dialogues of Aristotle, Aquinas and Spinoza and several others. The reading process is made interesting by way of their methodology. The third chapter encompasses factors pertaining to ‘Being and Becoming’ wherein various earlier forms of views held on the two interlinked views. Janaro unearths the philosophical traits as laid down by Plato and Aristotle as a starting point. The issues about the longevity of life as well as being good via body and mind are salient factors that go into the making of a being.

Though seen as simplistic, it is well complex and subtle. There are quite a number of biological factors that go into the making of a ‘being’. But there seem more unseen factors beyond the realm of human grasp. Some of these factors are discussed in Chapter Four, which goes as ‘Philsophian God’. Herein the concept of God is discussed from several standpoints. As the writer underlines, the concept of faith comes to man as a result of the search for a god or the intuitive knowledge of the god.

Herein the concept of God is discussed from several standpoints. As the writer underlines, the concept of faith comes to man as a result of the search for a god or the unintuitive knowledge of the god. It is also regarded as a divine gift. As such, undefinable by man. This has resulted in the philosophy f God. As such, for many thinkers around the globe, the god concept had become a philosophical concern. It is the reason according to the writer that must tell us or reveal this fact that God does or does not exist.

It has been the lifelong work of several great thinkers that had given way to philosophical speculations on the belief in God. From Chapter Five onwards, quite a lot of philosophical interpretations are presented on the concept of ‘alternative consciousness’ that paves the way to understand the philosophical issues about the teachings in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Zen Buddhism. As a reader, I found that the learned writer has attempted to compare the salient factors in each of the teachings devoid of any biases and/or particularities.

Various isms

The writer leaves no stone unturned in the process of the main subject area of ‘belief as a philosophy’ as found in other ‘isms’ such as existentialism and dialectical materialism. The work as a whole is an eye-opener at all times.

Do you believe in these words? It is the question raised by the Tao thinker Lao Tzu.

“On tiptoe, your stance is unsteady.

Long strides make your progress unsure,

Show off and you get no attention

Your boasting will mean you have failed,

Asserting yourself brings no credit,

Be proud and you will never lead

To persons of the way these traits.

Can only ring distrust, they seem

Like extra food for parasites.

So those who choose the way

Will never give them a place.

If you believe in contemplation or thinking take a few minutes to read and follow the inner meanings.