In Unit One, I learned a lot about what philosophy truly was. I have heard the names of philosophers before, but I never knew what those philosophers did. My knowledge of this subject was not very broad. We learned what philosophy thought about. Philosophy is all about connections. I have never thought about this until Dr. Eiswert told my class that everyone is a philosopher. This comment made me think and realize how we are constantly thinking and making connections in our everyday life.
There were many key insights in this unit. The main point of unit one was seeing the differences in what each philosopher thought that the world was made of. Each person has a connection to the world. We all have different connections in life that lead us to where we will end up.
The first philosopher we talked about was Thales of Miletus. He was the founder of philosophy and science. The whole concept is mind-blowing to me how something can be perceived so differently in one person’s eyes compared to another person’s eyes.
Thales believed that the world was made of water. Although he is recorded generally as the first philosopher, other philosophers created their own opinions. Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Pythagoras all had connections that they believed. Pythagoras went in a different direction and believed that the key ideas included mathematics. This is where Pythagorean Theorem comes from. When we do things every day, we do not tend to think about the origin from where they came.
Educators might not even realize who came up with the material that they teach. We do things every single day and learn about things in school that philosophers came up with. Although all these philosophers were thinking about what the world was made of, they all made their connections to find the solution that they believed in.
While we discussed that Thales believed the world was made of water, Anaximander believed the world’s makings were unlimited, and Anaximenes believed the world was made of air, each of these philosophers had their mindset. We later discussed Heraclitus, Parmenides, Democritus, and Leucippus. Heraclitus believed the world was made of air, which is in the same direction as Thales and Anaximenes; however, Parmenides went in a whole new direction. He believes everything is an illusion. I think it is very interesting how Democritus and Leucippus came up with the theory that everything is made of atoms, but it later reappeared with the Scientific Revolution of the 1700s.
Heraclitus has a very interesting mindset when it came to this concept. When he said the ‘5th element’ was fire, he also said you can’t step in the same river twice. Cratylus responded to Heraclitus and said you can’t step in the same river once because there is no river. What does this mean? To me when Heraclitus says you can’t step in the same river twice, I think he means although it may be the same river technically, the river has changed just like the person stepping in the river. Cratylus had a very interesting response. Heraclitus had a response back to Cratylus. He used the word logos. This could mean that all things are one. This all opens up a different view of thinking. Heraclitus made a connection with the river and the person stepping into the river. Everyone is constantly changing and it was this concept that opened my eyes. First learning that you can’t step in the same river twice I was confused, but it is simple. Since everyone changes so much, sometimes in hidden ways, we are never really ever the same. This connection was intriguing because this is where I started to connect these philosophies to my own life.
I enjoyed unit one because we continued to talk about the same concept, just with different perceptions. I thought it was amazing how many perceptions there were until I thought about my life. Thinking about all the people around me that would argue differently about a subject, I realized that this wasn’t that amazing. I believe everyone knows that what they’re doing is good or bad, however; there are reasons that people do badly in the world. They have a lack of remorse. Protagoras believed in relativism. He believed that what is real is what people perceive. A rational person knows when something is universally wrong. There is a right and wrong. People who choose to do bad know exactly what they’re doing. I disagree with Protagoras and his thought that there are no universal truths or values. There are truths. There are values. One particular thing that happened during one class period stuck with me. When we were talking about Protagoras and how he believed that there was no solution at all, Dr. Eiswert came up with an example. He used a simple cup that had a handle on one side. Where one person believed it was a left-handed cup, the other believed it was a right-handed cup. Although someone could argue immensely as to which side the handle was o, it would be pointless because both perceptions are correct. Everyone has their perception of everything, but some things are universal. If we would all just understand other people’s perceptions better, arguments or disagreements would be avoided. Just because you may believe in something, that does not mean someone else has to believe in it too. Sometimes in this world, we are very inconsiderate. We think that our way is the only way, but that’s not true. There are so many ways that things can be perceived. We can get so busy making our connections that we forget to consider that other people have made other connections.
Although all of these philosophers had different opinions and beliefs. They all had something in common. They used their connections and knowledge to come up with those beliefs. We all have different connections in life that lead us to where we will end up. Some may be similar, others may be completely different. Everyone has their own background story. This is part of what makes us all unique. This is part of what defines us.