I believe what Russell was stating was that we not only need to nourish our bodies, we also need to tend to our minds as well. We must be careful not to sink into monotony, because when we do we tend to fall back to the base instincts of operating on routine rather than using our minds. When this happens we risk starving ourselves intellectually. The whole basis of philosophy is that there is no right answer, philosophers debate and never come to any real conclusion. Basically the foundation of philosophy is the opinion of one or many, and when an answer has been validated, it shifts from opinion into fact.
Once it becomes a fact, it falls into the science of facts vs falsehoods. One example would be the original thought of the sun revolving around the earth, at the time that was a Fact. After much research it became disputed and opinionated. Now, everyone knows for a fact that the Earth is revolving around the sun instead of vice-versa Is there a God? This question will remain insoluble because science cannot prove or disprove the existence of a higher power. Is there intelligent life in out there? This chance of this question being answered is relatively higher than the previous.
But currently it is insoluble due to a lack of interest in that field. Is there an afterlife? This will be insoluble because it is impossible to discern due to it being impossible without experiencing it first-hand. What is the meaning of life? This question (for some reason) is on many peoples minds, but to most it will remain a mystery. When is the end? This day and age seems to be riddled with people who are doomsayers, who think they can see the apocalypse approaching. But in truth, no one knows how it will end, its all speculation.
To me it sounds like Russell is attempting to explain that the journey through life tends to wear on most people, until they just shuffle from one day to the next, from “cradle to grave”. They ask no questions, have no wonderment at life’s mysteries, and are content to take things at “face value”. For those of us who look at life and question what they experience or see, it leads to discussions with others, which sometimes leads to conclusions. The apple falling on Newtons head (be it a metaphorical or a literal) led to the question of gravity and how it effects objects.
Despite this question leading into a purely scientific/mathematical field, I still believe it was a philosophic question, as I am sure Newton discussed his ideas with his colleagues. This being said, I believe Aristotle said “The unexamined life is not worth living. ” because to accept things that you see without question leads you down a very simplistic path with no knowledge gained, whereas a life full of questions and curiosities can open up doors, not just in an individuals life but in the lives of all mankind. It is this difference that makes a life worth living.
In my opinion, Russell believed that a life boxed in by religious or political restraints on free thinkers stifles not only the individual, but humanity as a whole. The questions we pose to ourselves and others have potentially world changing effects, whether they be for good or bad. Comparing Bertrand Russell to Perictione is the common comparison of yin and yang. Bertrand seems like he wants the questions encountered through life to remain insoluble while Perictione speaks as if he wants to break down everything to its basic components and discover the truth in how they operate.
The reason why I am studying philosophy is truly to cure me of my narcissism, things are very black and white to me and it is hard to see any shades of gray between the two. To me there is right and wrong, facts and fallacies, despite the fact that life and all things contained therein are rarely so simple. If I can break myself of this pattern of feeling like my opinion is superior to others then I feel like I can grow intellectually.
Courtney from Study Moose
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