The origin of philosophy

I think this topic is better put as what inspired philosophy. But in any case, you should know that we’re about to discuss the reason mankind was triggered to do philosophy— however you’d put it. 

When we read in textbooks or several other sources, it is not uncommon to hear that philosophy started as man’s quest for a better life, or man’s quest to discover more about life, etc., making it all look so classical, prestigious, imitable, impeccable—and all the other able’s in your mind. 

But in actuality, all of these are only true in part; there is this thing we’re seldom told about the emergence of contemplative thought, and that is our concern in this writing. 

As preposterous as it may sound, man’s idleness triggered the beginnings of philosophy. Talking about the life lived by the primitive man in This Human Nature, Charles Duff wrote: 

He could work quietly during seed time and harvest and settle down to a life of comparative laziness during one half of the year. This ability to be lazy was the beginning of contemplative thought and the origin of all philosophy. Restlessness or hustle k!lls thought. Only a man of leisure can think, is the rule of life; there are exceptions, but they are few and unimportant. 

If this extraction doesn’t shed enough light on the topic for you, I’ll do a quick decryptification for you. 

You see if we talk of philosophy loosely, man may be said to naturally be a philosophical animal; he thinks (a thinker), and in fact, being able to reason majorly distinguishes him from the lower animals—apes, for one, may come to your mind. 

Some people have also argued that whoever constantly seeks to improve himself is a philosopher. Some other arguments hold that being able to set some principles or paradigms of thought for oneself makes one a philosopher. 

Put all the random definitions together and every h0m0 sapien will be a philosopher. 

But with a technical look, we are made to see philosophers as seekers and lovers of knowledge and wisdom, especially with elements of inquisitiveness and receptiveness. 

This suggests that a philosopher consciously learns, unlearns, and relearns for the love of knowing. The founding principles of what we now technically take philosophy for are all spelled out in the teachings and life of Socrates. 

Without any further ado, it is by this technical view that we are examining the origination of philosophy in this paper. 

Consequently, it would be unreasonable to say that the first philosopher is known. It had all begun ill-defined; sometimes as religious beliefs and practices, a people’s lifestyle, as well as societal norms (which some of the earliest defined philosophers philosophized against and gained the label of being philosophical for). 

The major reason we have problems understanding this basic idea is that we very often fail to see the philosopher in most of the people, especially leaders who lived before the first so-called philosophers came around. 

To cite a not-far-fetched example, let us talk about Socrates in comparison with the sophists that were before him. 

Socrates was seen as a philosopher basically because he took the act as a way of life and defined it as doing philosophy. On the other hand, Sophists frequented Athens to teach while also learning themselves. 

But in the long run, they were christened irrational because they seemingly (since I don’t know how we can be sure of this accusation in the first place) followed their hearts and not the mind or brain in making what we perceive to be rational conclusions. 

An education platform wrote: The term sophistry has come to signify the deliberate use of fallacious reasoning

While it may be plausible to say that when used figuratively, one that follows or acts in accordance with the heart may be sentimental or just consequently not sagacious, we have forgotten that the sophists are also knowledge seekers. Since when have people started giving what they don’t have?

Read Also: Philosophy vs Sophistry

Funnily enough, our research into the philosophers that influenced Socrates has shown that some of the most famous Sophists of the time inescapably have to be on the list. 

I personally think that despite the element of truth in the accusation against the sophists and the conspicuous uniqueness philosophers show, both people are nearly indifferent. 

The reason is that with the coming around of schools of philosophy and schools of thought, some existing philosophies are so plausibly eviscerated that without a second thought, one sees irrationality—the same one that sophistry lacks, in them. 

For instance, Nietzsche nullified the philosophy of Socrates on epistemic humility by positing that our father of Western philosophy himself demonstrated false humility. 

Isn’t this true when we consider instances like those of Anytus and Socrates— where the former warned Socrates against speaking evil of people and Socrates wouldn’t heed. And Anytus would later appear to be one of his accusers in the courthouse. 

I wouldn’t like to dwell so much on the matter of Nietzsche’s view of Socrates’ humility because it may be bad for us. As much as I also give it some elements of doubt. 

In any case, looking through the eyes of Nietzsche, we may consider Socrates’ teachings of humility as being false or being a ‘fallacious reasoning’, to borrow from the words earlier used to describe the Sophists. 

Now, take a minute or so to reflect on this, and look inward if you still think that sophists themselves weren’t qualified to be philosophers.  

The point here is that any so-called philosopher may be in part not more than an irrational thinker to some other thinkers. It follows that many philosophers (who are technically worth being one) before the earliest recorded philosophers have died undefined. 

With this understanding of the idea behind philosophy and its misconception, do we still say that it is possible to truly identify the first philosophy? 

So, as to the origin that we are seldom told, Charles Duff was right after all, it will be a dog’s chance if a workaholic, for instance, turns out to be a philosopher too. But we are not exactly particular about that; the free time man has allowed him to look inward and do some deep thinking so that as Charles proposed, he started Art and developed it. 

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