Western Philosophy, at its core, made every attempt possible to make us face and grow in the harshness this life might have to offer. It wanted to encourage us to lead wiser and not woeful lives. Here are some selected thoughts from the west, to take some weight off that heart and inspire it:
‘All our unhappiness comes from our inability to sit alone in our room’
This assertion made my the 17th century French philosopher, Pascal, might seem outrageous at first. But when delved into, it tries to highlight a very essential truth of our lives. We are constantly running after trains or sitting on our cellphones, scrolling down the edited happy moments of other people’s lives or trying to resolve issues of our best friend or watching the now-trending movies or finding ourselves immersed in the company of unhealthy substances. But somehow, we still are not happy and the reason we might think to ourselves is that we are not doing enough.
Actually, Pascal says, it might do us some greater good if we did nothing. If we just sat inside the four walls of our room and spent some time gazing into our own selves – clearing the negative thoughts and decorating the healthy ones, spending time in some thoughtful reveries or simply watching the clouds move.
In a culture where our minds are constantly being fed, it might just be better for us to take some time out to simply be surrounded by nothing but our own self and to become better friends with what goes on inside and not outside.
‘Peccatum Originale’ (original sin)
St Augustine believed that the human nature was inherently tainted and damaged because of the original sin that was committed by Eve, the mother of all creatures, in the Garden of Eden when she ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Her guilt was passed down, into the blood of the future generations who are now bound to fail, considering they are the children of such a faulty mother.
This idea might sound absurd when taken at its face value. But when seen as a metaphor, it helps us understand that not much can be expected from the human race since we’re pretty doomed right from the beginning. And that, in certain situations, can be a highly comforting redemptive thought to recall.
‘Kings and Philosophers shit, and so do ladies’
Michel de Montaigne, a 16th century French philosopher, wrote this phrase as a part of an essay. He wasn’t being mean or trying to mock someone, at the time. Montaigne was trying to tell us how to help ourselves each time we undergo the emotion of intimidation. It could be our next door neighbour or the highly acclaimed professor at the university or a movie star – we all have felt our hearts run faster in the presence of someone. But what the French philosopher wants us to remember during such moments is that, deep down, we all are human.
No matter how many jewels you put on or how many books you’ve authored or how many followers you might have on social media platforms, you will have days when you feel hurt, disappointed, rejected, sad just like every single one of us. As long as you have a heart beating in there, you will possibly feel all the emotions it has to offer, irrespective of where you are located in the hierarchy.
Montaigne is trying to free us from our underconfident selves and remind us that no matter how poised someone might appear from the outside, they are just a few seconds away from being vulnerable. So the next time you find yourself being intimidated, you know what phrase to run through your mind!
Got any personal favourites from the philosophers of the west? Let us know in the comment section below!