Life: The Hows and Whys
Life: The Hows and Whys
Asking about the Philosophy of Life
Asking about the philosophy of life has always existed. Many people around the world have posed the question. Basically, once any conscious human being succeeds in releasing his "self" from the ocean of anxieties, joys and tensions of his fatalistic, natural life and consider life itself, he will immediately reach the question of the philosophy of life. Without a correct interpretation of life, man will fall into nihilism; this became quite intense ever since machines dominated life increasingly in the 18th century, making people shout about the emptiness they feel in their lives.
In order to understand nihilistic feelings, we must first consider the mental characteristics of a nihilistic person:
1-A nihilist does not regard life as a necessary issue. He hates life rather than enjoying it.
2-For nihilists, the facts, principles and relationships of life undergo dramatic change. Beauty and ugliness are meaningless, orderliness becomes a mere hallucination.
3-A nihilist's soul is influenced quite quickly and easily, sometimes even taking his consciousness away. As Jalal-addin Mohammad Molawi (Rumi) says:
میگريزند از خـودی در بيخودیيا به مستی يا به شغل ای مهتدی
(With the occupation or infatuation they acquire, they are fleeing from self-consciousness toward unconsciousness, but they do not know that they will be pulled back into their natural, physical self by the chains of their desires and whims, for their escape was not upon God's command.)
4-Values are worthless in the eyes of a nihilist; greatness and degradation are no different to him.
The first two groups basically do not ask about the philosophy of life at all. The first group, who cannot abstract life from themselves, are unable to consider the phenomenon of life. The second group, although developed people, regard life as a part of the whole universe, heading for the aim of creation. The second group are quite joyous people.
به جهان خرّم از آنم که جهان خرّم از اوستعاشقم بر همه عالم که همه عالم از اوست
(I love this world because God has created it. The beauty of the world comes from God.) »Sa'adi«
Motives for Asking about the Aim of Life
The various motives for seeking the aim of life can be thus categorized into these four groups:
1-Negative aspects of life: Human life tends to dynamically develop, and if its movement and progress becomes stagnant, the questions arises – what is the philosophy of life? The negative aspect of asking about the philosophy of life is quite a despaired, hopeless one. However, not all people are influenced by negative motives; some people, when facing those stagnant, miserable beings, believe that if such people cannot realize the true taste of life, others can do so very well. Some people have a nihilistic philosophy for themselves, while others endeavor to overcome the factors that inhibit the dynamic progress of life.
2-Positive aspects of life: Those who live a purely natural life and are satisfied with it will sooner or later realize that they have lost their true self, and become captive to something artificial and unreal. They cannot present themselves with the true form of life in order to search for its philosophy. Even if they start inquiring about the aim of life, their questions will not be real ones.
3-Secondary, consequential aspects of life: Sometimes man sets for himself some ideals and interprets life on their basis. When he fails to achieve his ideals, life will seem worthless to him, and he begins to question the philosophy of life. For instance, some people who go after science, at first think science is the absolute aim of life; when they fail, they hopelessly turn nihilistic. Some others turn to despair when they cannot achieve wealth and luxury. Such people cannot find the correct answers, for they do not ask the correct questions.
4-Neutral aspects: feeling the necessity of a general viewpoint of life: If man is to ask questions about something, the subject matter must be outside his human nature; he should look at it from a superior point of view.
We must keep in mind that asking about the aim of life never includes asking about the means and levels of life, for each part of life has its own philosophy; thus, any thinker exploring the philosophy of life should not consider all components of life. The human ego should rise higher than natural life to be able to question it. This is when the human ego does not search for the philosophy of life in purely natural life anymore. Unless one reaches the highest levels of the human self, distinguishing the aim of life from its shadow will not be possible. One cannot deserve to ask about the philosophy of life without stepping beyond his normal life, which is riddled with material things and feelings.