As promised, I thought I would share another reason why I love France: The nation’s love affair with philosophy.
How could one expect less from the country which gave us René Descartes who famously said: “I think therefore I am.”
Even the contemporary pompous types who take the most convoluted routes to explain the simple and unintelligible verbal journeys to add complexity to the already complex, are fascinating to me. And, probably like no other country in the world, philosophers are often proffering their opinions on prime time. We really like philosophers over here.
All of this is to say, who can not be in love with a land whose educational system requires a high school course in philosophy?
|From the College Humor collection|
I’m enchanted by the notion that in our high-tech, must learn everything there is to know about computers and cyberspace, be on Facebook, Tweet day and night, possess all the bells and whistles that facilitate staying up to the nanosecond in our world, there is a little corner of the universe where a young mind is required to think abstractly, search for perhaps unresolvable hypothesis, pose esoteric questions. . .
Philosophy is on my mind because the “Philo” exams were this week and, as always, the television and radio channels were talking about this year’s subjects and interviewing philosophers while students were diligently writing their theories in response to the questions.
|Answer: Move to France.|
These are some of this year’s brain teasers:
1.) What do you gain by working?
2.) Do all beliefs contradict reason?
3.) Would we be more free without the State?
4.) Do we have the obligation to search [for] truth?
You can see at a glance all the directions these questions can take. The students must form their arguments and then support them with the thinking of the philosophers they have studied throughout the year.
Finally, I shall leave you with a few of my favorite pronouncements from some of the world’s most famous and revered philosophers:
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not: remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Epicurus
“To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.” Betrand Russell
“There is much pleasure to be gained by useless knowledge.” Bertrand Russell
“Republics end through luxury; monarchies through poverty.” Charles de Secondat
“History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.” George Santayana
“The Difficult is that which can be done immediately: the Impossible is that which takes a little longer.” George Santayana
And this one, which I find unspeakably sad: “I’m not upset that you lied to me; I’m upset that from now on I cannot believe you.” Friedrich Nietzsche