Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Study of philosophy

I had an interesting discussion yesterday with a section of the second course students as introduction to the subject, Modern Western Philosophy.  It was basically in the context of modern western thought declaring independence from religion and doctrine to chalk out a path or strategy for philosophy (as against the domination of Christian thought and doctrine during the medieval era). In that context, I stated that Philosophy till then was considered as a handmaid of theology and perhaps this led to the Canonical requirement that those aspiring to Priestly ordination ought to undergo philosophical training too.  So I asked the group, if they, either out of their own experience or what they gathered from the seniors, felt the relevance and importance of studying philosophy, especially in preparation for priestly ordination.  The group was divided.  Some were very convinced and clear as to how philosophy has opened up vistas for them hitherto not thought of.  Some stated that it has indeed strengthened their faith.  There were also some who frankly felt that perhaps three years was too long a duration. They were of the opinion that Philosophical studies could be of some shorter duration, perhaps a year.  The other two years (major portion of the available time) could be catered to studies on the Bible.  Their argument was that people are thirsting for the Word of God, not philosophy.  Furthermore they argued, that at times, those who do not study philosophy, reason out better and are more rational than those who undergo a systematic course on philosophy. And as it is, we naturally reason out, so why Philosophy?!

I fear the latter group considers philosophy as another course, another subject to be studied.  (I am sure, they consider studies related to the Bible too in the same manner!) However, they fail to see that study of philosophy basically offers them tools and skills that need to be imbibed, personalised, and then applied. Rather than a set of doctrines to be studied, Philosophy offers the skill to make the most of reason.

This is the same of even social communication or media.  That's the reason I am not very much for a separate department or commission for communication.  It is not an independent body or section that works by itself.  It is what facilitates and lubricates all our endeavours. It does not and cannot have an identity of its own, totally independent of the common mission.  Communication is for communion and not merely for communication! 

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