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Nandita Kochar

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:

‘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 under confident 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!

‘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.

 ‘What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.’

 Roman philosopher Seneca would often use this dark humorous remark to console his friends during hard times. We get weepy not because our plans have failed but because our plans have failed and we did not expect them to. Seneca, through his remark, is trying to save us from being caught off-guard by the violent suffering life will offer us later by serving us a little taste of it right in the beginning.

The lesser we expect, the lesser we suffer.

 Seneca is not trying to depress us. Rather he wants to save us from the kind of despair that does nothing but inspire intemperate shouting and bitterness.

 Got any personal favourites from the philosophers of the west? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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