It's Not About Beards and Togas, Continued

Three hundred years ago, the French scientist and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, said "We always picture Plato and Aristotle wearing long academic gowns, but they were ordinary decent people like anyone else, who enjoyed having a laugh with their friends." Philosophy is indeed a serious enterprise, but it's not a somber one. It's just the attempt to get a big picture for our lives, to discover what's really important, and to make sure that we're living day to day in a good and valuable way. We can do this in a toga, in a business suit, or in spandex. We can do it laughing out loud, with tears in our eyes, or just in a reflective mood.

The word "philosophy" means "the love of wisdom." And wisdom, in turn, is just insight about living. One of the greatest pieces of advice ever given to human beings was first brought to us by the ancient philosopher Thales. It is certainly the most famous advice ever given, it's the shortest, and it may just be the most difficult to follow. Thales, and almost all the great philosophers after him, have said over and over, "Know Thyself." Take time out from the busy activities that steal your day away from you and ask yourself some basic questions about life. What do you think is the meaning of life? What is the role of work in a happy and fulfilling existence? And what is the role of family?

What is death? Is there more to reality than meets the eye? What do we truly value? What's not so important? How can we act in small ways to make the world a better place? These are the questions philosophy asks.

And now it's a trend. So you can finally feel free to talk to friends and family members about such things. You certainly have the permission of the ancient philosophers. And now you have the encouragement of the zeitgeist, the spirit of our day. I want to encourage you too. Do a little philosophy today. Catch the wave.

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