By IRFAN GUL
“Life is a precious gift and we need to think about the right way to live our life. We must question and ponder over every second of it. Every decision of ours should be followed by critical examination.”
David Papineau , while reflecting on philosophy says, “ it is not only important to question how we should conduct our lives.(But) Human beings are thinking creatures, for whom pure understanding is an end itself”. All responsible people need to pause, at least sometimes during their life, to reflect on whether they are really doing the right thing or there is a need to change how to deal with situations arising due to complexities of life.
Life is a precious gift and we need to think about the right way to live it. We must question and ponder over every aspect of life. Every decision of ours should be followed by critical examination. As Socrates puts it, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. We need to examine every decision of ours and others which impacts our lives in any way.
Situations and circumstances in which people find themselves need to be debated, thought over and discussed. We need to act more cautiously when our decision touches the lives of millions, and trust our abilities to lead them. In such situations we have to deliver rightly, because otherwise the price could be immense. Our decisions should be progressive and reflect a departure from past mistakes. Such an approach emerges when we ponder on our past decisions critically and rationally. We should accept our failures and think through them. We need to think more and express ourselves fully. To cite David Papineau again, the philosopher opines that, “a society in which humans never asked about the fundamental nature of reality would be the poorer for it”. We must therefore scrutinize our collective actions to find the way out which may lead us somewhere desired.
Thomas Hobbes, delineating on the nature of truth and falsehood says “true and false are attributes of speech, not of things. And where speech is not, there is neither truth nor falsehood”. We need to speak the truth regarding our actions and strategy. We will be at an advantage by reflecting on the situation at hand and trying to make sense of circumstances we live in.
We are human beings; we can think on a given situation and make sense out of it. We can have our opinion on anything. Thinking and pondering on life situations puts us ahead. Mental autonomy and free will – attributes of humans – need to be continually explored. The will, according to Rene Descartes, is by its nature free so that it can never be constrained. We are free to think any strategy but still we fail as we don’t think and reflect on the causes of our failed actions. We tend to follow the same path which we see has not yielded any advantageous results.
Whatever we undertake according to our rationality, thinking and past experience will lead us closer to our goal and everything that we undertake without considering these three elements will lead us nowhere. Aristotle says that, “man by nature desires to know”. We need to know what suits us best to break the shackles of uncertainty. If we don’t gain knowledge through our experience of the world, how do we get it then?
Plato has an answer for us here: through thinking. Thinking, curiosity and free will help man to get the best in him and will guide his conduct and regulate his actions in his best interests. Man has everything to alter, challenge or change his destiny but the key is how much he thinks and uses his rationality. In conclusion, I am reminded of a quote by Bertrand Russell:
“Man is a rational animal – so at least I have been told. Throughout a long life, I have looked diligently for evidence in favor of this statement, but so far I have not had the good fortune to come across it”
—The writer works for Pratham Education Foundation (NGO) as District Resource Leader (DRL) for District Pulwama, Kashmir. He can be contacted at [email protected] Views expressed in the article are the writer’s own.