Day 190 – Philosophy Basics

So today’s new thing was a pretty big one, but one I’ve been looking forward to. I was interested in learning some philosophical arguments and theories, and learning how to look at the world differently.

For such a big topic I needed somebody to break it down for me, and so I found a great video series on YouTube called Crash Course: they split big topics such as psychology, engineering, and European history over 40, 10 minute, videos. I think they’re aimed at students, but I found the videos informative, fun, and easy to understand without being patronising.

The Crash Course on Philosophy videos came to a total of 7 hours of content – something I definitely wasn’t going to get all the way through today. Notebook and pen ready, I decided to see how far I could get through the videos.

The first section was learning the different ways philosophers argue their ideas, which was quite interesting but I was hoping for something a bit meatier. I did learn that there is a theory that Aristotle couldn’t grow a beard and so glued the offcuts of hair found at a barber’s to his face instead. That’s some solid Ancient Greek gossip.

This was the video that broke my brain

It was when we started to learn about scepticism in the context of The Matrix that things started to go unravel. Learning about René Descartes doubting all of his beliefs after discovering a few of them were false (how could he know the rest weren’t false?) I smiled and thought that was a bit over the top, but then the video introduced a theory by Bertrand Russel. The 5-minute theory posed the question, what if the universe was only created 5 minutes ago, and all of our memories are pre-implanted by the creator of this unvirse. I…

This broke my brain a little bit: of course the universe wasn’t created 5 minutes ago, but…how do I know? I really had a mini existential crisis. I found this fascinating though. I messaged friends and asked them the same thing, and I received lots of interesting responses back. One friend said we all perceive reality differently, e.g. my perception of blue is different from hers, and that also gave me a lot to think about.

Without watching these videos and learning about Descartes and Russel, I would never have questioned the nature of reality with my friends, at least not sober. It really unlocked something in my brain and made me look at life a little differently. I will definitely return to philosophy and learn some more brain zapping theories, but for now, I need to sit down and question everything I know.

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