As a high school dropout in 1982, I was fortunate to end up in college where I first discovered philosophy. I thought I had all the answers at the time, but philosophy soon taught me that I never will. Living in uncertainty was initially difficult for a budding idealist, but philosophy soon filled my life with endless wonder and discovery.
As Socrates famously admitted, “I am wise because I neither know, nor think that I know.” Or, as Bertrand Russell put it, “In philosophy, what is important is not so much the answers that are given, but rather the questions that are asked.”
Certainty, by contrast, is based on emotion, not reason, even though it “feels” perfectly reasonable. As neurologist Robert Burton says, “the feeling of knowing and its kindred feelings should be considered as primary as the states of fear and anger.” The more certain we feel, the more certain we can be that we are having an emotional reaction.
Philosophy, on the other hand, provides us the skills and tools necessary to face reality on its own uncertain terms. It enables us to appreciate the thrill of living in a world of few absolutes, while basing every leap of faith on our best educated guess through reason and objectivity. To this day I remain more interested in what philosophy has to ask than in what philosophers have to say. This is why I love philosophical practice, helping others more fully unfold as human beings by rediscovering the lost questions to their found answers, along with the wonder that comes so naturally to every child who, like the philosopher, unceasingly asks “Why?”