We all need a little philosophy...
I believe the most important subjects to teach in school are philosophy and comparative religions. Without an understanding of these two subjects, democracy is not possible.
Philosophy teaches us how to think, and how to question our opinions; it teaches us to broaden perspectives and challenge our reactions.
Comparative religion has everything; religion has it all; history, philosophy, arts, phycology. Religion is how humans engaged and still engage with the world. (Atheism is faith as well, it is faith in exclusively material existence.) Faith, as a word, we must realize, is much broader than we allow it in everyday language.
Your thoughts are your faith, with your thinking you build a world that you believe in; thus your words become your faith. Yes, from Bible, John 1:1; “In the beginning, was the Word” It is not magic, that statement is a psychological reality.
Without understanding your own “faith” background, you will never understand how your thoughts are built; therefore, you will never discover your own biases. Once you have studied our own culture and our own “faith”, then you are ready to study other cultures and other religions. This is the beauty of comparative religion as a subject. It requires a thorough understanding of both the self and the other; it is through this examination that we can recognize our similarities and respect our differences.
All this takes time… and I am sorry to say, but all this is never taught in schools nowadays…
We live in an era of quick judgment and loss of philosophy and LACK of knowledge. It is ironic, truly ironic that at the height of the information age, we would be so starved for true knowledge. But we are living in an oasis while starving. Most of us are restricted to superficial pre-digested, and biased opinions and never have a chance to question reality.
Thus, it is ever more important to pause and train our minds to question, hold space, and examine.
There is no better time to study Plato’s Republic than right now. No matter where your opinion lies, what matters is that you thought it through.
I recommend reading Allen Bloom’s translation because he was able to reflect the original meaning in modern English so well.
I also recommend a simultaneous study of the book with a lecture series from the Great Courses. Understanding the classics can be tricky; it requires you to suspend your current morality, and shift your perspective to a time long ago. That involves knowledge of history and ancient religions.
Socrates will challenge you; you may want to smack him down, punch him out. Oh, he is an annoying fellow, but don’t make a hasty decision, read the book and follow the lectures all the way through because at the end you may discover that Socrates was trying to say something very different than what you concluded a third into the book. And this is its beauty, by teaching you to stretch your attention for an extended period of time and examine everything from 4 different angles, it will teach you how to have more patience and understanding with yourself and others in the universe.
Enjoy one of the greatest classics; take your time. It took me 6 weeks to read through the book while listening to the lectures, I went back, and re-read sections quite often. Again, enjoy slowing down, enjoy questioning, enjoy suspending your faith, and hold space.
Oh- Advance project for those who took my 200-Hour Mindfulness and Yoga course. Once you finished the detailed study of Plato’s Republic, go back and review The Gita. Write a compare and contrast essay on the two classics! OH, fun – I see an advanced course in that subject.
Sending peace and love,
Dora (yes, I am geeky, that is why you love me)