Living philosophy: how the words of Plato and Marcus Aurelius are relevant today

As we begin to step out after being confined to our homes for almost two years, the occasion of World Philosophy Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges we face today and the value and necessity of philosophy in these unprecedented times.

The word Philosophy comes from the Greek words /Philo/(love and /sophos/ (Intelligence). Therefore to be a philosopher means to yearn for knowledge, to always aspire to follow the truth. Contemporary thought of philosophy as an intellectual pursuit at that time has lost the very essence of the philosophy that it meant. If we look at the greatest philosophers of all time, who dare to live up to their ideals sometimes at the cost of their lives, we see that their words, being abstract or theoretical, are far more relevant, possibly even today. are more relevant. , This is because knowledge encompasses universal principles which, unlike knowledge or technology, can never get old. So what can we learn from these courageous men and women who opened a path to help us live better today?

In times of uncertainty and constant flux, where entire systems and ways of life that we have taken for granted are completely shaken, philosophy can guide us towards stillness. The famous staunch philosopher Marcus Aurelius said “You have control over your mind – not over external events. understand it, and you will find strength,

Marcus Aurelius, even as emperor of the mighty Roman Empire, wrote daily thoughts about his role, responsibilities, obligations, and how to use every act as an opportunity to improve himself. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

In the face of challenges, we usually spend most of our time and energy trying to change what is beyond our control – be it circumstances, circumstances, or the opinions of others. But the simplicity of conservatism is a strong reminder to recognize and accept what is not within our control, and to dedicate our efforts toward what we can change.

Today, our gaze is so fixed on the exterior, we seek inner peace in outer comforts. But externalities, by their very nature, will always be changing. Real inner peace does not come from unchanging circumstances, but from learning to trust the stable aspect within us.

As Plato says, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer oneself”. The Path of Philosophy is a path that can guide us inward, to recognize that our real battle, and therefore the source of our solution, is always internal.

Paradoxically, it was our enforced separation over the past two years that taught us how inherently interconnected we are. It has never been so clear before how individual actions in one corner of the world can have an undeniable impact on the collective. Our actions affect not only each other, but all beings on our planet, even the planet Earth itself.

Philosophers for centuries have constantly reminded us of the underlying universal principle that we are a small but integral part of this web of life. “What is not good for the hive is not good for the bee,” said Marcus Aurelius. Like each organ in our body has its own distinct function, but always for the good of the whole; Each of us has a role, and any action that is not in the benefit of the collective cannot ultimately benefit the individual. Only when we truly learn to recognize that we are not separate from nature, but part of this one life, can we positively change the way we consume, interact and live. In an increasingly divisive world, where we define ourselves by our external differences rather than our normal internal humanity, this is perhaps the greatest lesson we can take.

And finally, philosophy can teach us what it means to be human: one who strives to live in the light of ideals.

Aurelius, even as emperor of the mighty Roman Empire, wrote daily reflections about his role, responsibilities, obligations, and how to use every action as an opportunity to improve himself, regardless of his circumstances. Plato meant that what defines us as human beings is the higher potential within us. In his famous /chariot allegory/, Plato presents the human soul as a charioteer with two horses: one bowing upward to the divine, and the other bowing down to matter; and suggests that the purpose of living is for the soul to grow wings and conquer its true nature.

As human beings we are constantly waging an internal battle between our strengths and weaknesses, our faults and virtues. But the glory of the human condition lies in our freedom to strive relentlessly toward the good, not only for ourselves but as a contribution to a better world.

Perhaps, to be truly human is to be a philosopher: to love knowledge and live by its principles. Philosophy is not a field of study, nor is it a profession. It is a way of life: living with a deep understanding of the nature of things and a sense of responsibility, joy and wonder for life.

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