Philosophy Lite: Thoughts of the poet and the philosopher
The poet and the philosopher are both deep thinkers. The poet puts into memorable words his feelings as he looks into the things of our world. His patterns of sound and thought appeal strongly to the imagination.
The philosopher looks into the wonders of our world and seeks to gain understanding of what it all means. Poetry may be defined as a kind of language that says more and says it more intensely than ordinary language.
Years ago, while in a bookstore, I came across "101 Famous Poems." While I had never been particularly interested in poetry, I decided that now would be a good time to investigate that art.
I also discovered that this book was one of the 20 all-time best sellers. Since then I have learned to appreciate the feelings of these thinkers who, by the way, lived mostly in the nineteenth century before our age of materialism and fast living.
Poetry has been with us from earliest days starting with Dante and Homer. The Bible itself is full of poetry, but we don't recognize it because of the way it is generally written in prose style.
Philosophy is an intellectual inquiry into ultimate truth; an inquiry into the nature of things. In fact, the word means, love of truth. To some extent, most of us are amateur philosophers because man is curious about the wonders of creation.
The true philosopher makes it a lifetime obsession because he recognizes that, in the words of Charles Beard: "I am convinced that the world is not a mere bog in which men and women trample themselves and die. Something magnificent is taking place here amidst the cruelties and tragedies, and the supreme challenge to intelligence is that of making the noblest and best in our curious heritage prevail."
Plato said early on that wonder is the mother of philosophy. If we are so inclined, philosophy can lead us to God. There is a joy in contemplating the ways of God, the diversity of his creation, how the elements of his creation interact marvelously with each other, and even man himself makes an interesting study.
Someone has said that what you think about all day, is what you are becoming. So, our challenge is to spend more time thinking about the things of God and less time thinking about worldly things.
An admirer asked Sir Isaac Newton how he had come to make discoveries in astronomy that went far beyond anything achieved by anyone before him. "By always thinking about them," replied Newton simply. Charles Finney in the preface to his book on systematic theology wrote, "You were made to think. It will do you good to think."
Philosophy covers many areas of life and may even lead to error, especially in religion. Christian philosophy comes closer to the mark because it has a firm Biblical foundation. Become a Christian thinker and gain a deeper understanding of who we are, what God expects of us and what is to come after this life.
Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria