Такмичење из филозофије

Српска олимпијада филозофије (Републичко такмичење из филозофије у писању филозофских есеја) одржана је у Пожаревачкој гимназији 18.марта 2017. године. Есеји се пишу на енглеском језику пошто ово такмичење представља Националне квалификације за Међународну филозофску олимпијаду 2017. Нашу школу је на овом такмичењу престављала Марина Банашевић 4/9 (ментор Тијана Ћук-Петковић).

Марина Банашевић 4/9

The original question of desire is not directly 'What do I want?', but 'What do others want from me? What do they see in me? What am I to others?' - Slavoj Zizek, The Plague of Fantasies

I am the spirit of time.

At the beginning, it seemed that those simple, but intellectually developed human beings only wanted answers. They asked themselves one pivotal question that had been fleeting in the air for so many years, but nobody was so audacious to ask it out loud. Around the 7th century B.C. Thales posed a question what the arche is, or, simply put the origin of all existing.

And it started. The desire for answers and explanations. Tales, the first philosopher even went one step further- namely, he even proposed something so arbitrary that can be found everywhere; an element, simple matter. A water. By suggesting that this world may have been created by water, rather than omnipotent God, he filled the land with the seed of doubt. And where is the doubt, there comes knowledge.

After him, philosophers proposed their explanations for origin of all existing- from Anaximenes' air, through the Anaximander's apeiron; it seemed that hylozoism was the only way of explaining the world's best hidden secrets. Reasonably, they must start from the beginning; as humble beings dedicated to God they must believe that the matter is mover and that it is able to move itself as well, and by that, matter is more powerful than them- if not God, something must always be beyond humans. Human thoughts started becoming more complex, more perplexed. Heraclitus' suggestion that this world was not created by the any God, but that it was and always will be an ever-living fire wasn't extraordinary because of his implication of thesis and antithesis, but because the introduction of logos- natural law that leads many to one, and battle to harmony. However, although going further, humans again marked a certain law as the creator of their future.

But, it seemed that those beings weren't satisfied with proposed explanations. They desired more. Sophists have developed their own way of thoughts, and Protagoras' homo mensura grounded the theory that man is the measure of all things. And I used it. I used it to convince Socrates that he was dying for absolute values. His maieutics was a lovely way to ground the dialectics, and his 'Scio me nihil scire' was perhaps the final point of the man's knowledge. Any reasonable human being would agree that knowledge is limited, and ignorance is infinite. No matter how much they know, their circle of ignorance will always get greater after realizing how much they don't know, owing it to the fact that they learned something that they didn't know. How marvelous was to manipulate them in that way! And still, they all wanted knowledge.

I convinced Plato that this world is an imperfect place and that we live in the world of shadows, leaving our souls in the ideal world. I trapped the humanity inside the cave! And all they desired is to reached the sun.

As I expected, they became more curious. They went further than bare origin of existence, and some of them, like Gorgias, proposed agnosticism - there is no way to know God, and even if there is, we wouldn't got a chance to explain him. 'The boundaries of my language are the boundaries of my world', as Wittgenstein once said. Their desire to express themselves will always be limited by their language, and their desires will always be obstacle to themselves alone. They will be trapped with their main weapon.

I even let them to structurize their desires- hedonists to fully enjoy life, Epicurus to suggest that the greatest pleasure is in the avoidance of pain. But if they avoid some of their desires in order to avoid consequences of it, how can they fully enjoy? After all, I understood them. Man tends to be contradictory to himself. It is reasonable that cosmopolitism will unassailable lead to alienation, because it if you are a citizen of the whole world, then you are citizen of no land.

And still, they desired. They desired knowledge, justice, and finally, freedom. They realized what my goal was. I led them through Eastern monarchies whereas only the emperor was free, I led them through the ancient Greece and Rome, where the democracy itself wasn't the ultimate guarantee of freedom. They tried to complete my goal, but they failed. Plato believed that the freedom may be even harmful if our parts of souls already decided where they want to lead us. Aristotle merged the question of freedom with morality- it is not enough to be hypothetically free, but we must feel freedom in our actions. However, if we must follow the rule of golden mean how can we be free rather than trapped in mediocrity? And such, did they (the man kind) ask themselves was the Epictetus truly free as a slave, and did the fact that he was slave formed his decision to became a Stoic? Or was it truly and morally freely formulated decision? I will leave it to them to ask. After all, it is not my matter of importance.

They were incapable to achieve my goal, so I had to guide them through medieval period, which they describe as dark and full of fear. I introduce God once again. And again, they desired. Some of them desired to prove the existence of God through reason- Saint Anselm of Canterbury tried to dispute the fool in Psalm 14. I let him write his ontological argument in Proslogion. I led him to be realist and to believe that universals truly exist, so the sacrifice of Jesus wouldn't be in vain. I than made people burn Roscelin for being nominalist and claiming that there are no universals, and I let Peter Abelard survive using his dialectics and claiming that the universals are not forms, but they exist in 3 ways: in God creation of world, in common things, and in us. However, that didn't result in success of my goals. They still weren't free.

So I made them ask themselves what the country is and how it can be designed. Hobbes believed that the state of nature was a state of pure freedom, but that it can be harmful to other human being if we decide to be free enough to kill or endanger other person. He believed that we have to give up some parts of our freedom through social contract and enter the civil state, where we will be perhaps even freer than before- we will be free of fear. Locke proposed a similar contract, but with the belief that the men are reasonable enough not to kill themselves. However, because of their amor habendi, the social contract would enable them to save and maintain their own properties. And finally, Rousseau realized that the state of nature had much more advantage than the civil state that he criticized, and that we are born free. Social contract was brought in that manner that it can guarantee freedom if you are ready to accept it in a way it was given. This was a pre-final stage of man's journey.

And then, in German Christianity, the freedom was born. Some men, like Fichte, believed that the freedom was not given to man as a thing, but as a task, and that they have to fight for it. Other, like Kant, created moral consensus- you are free, but think before act; you may affect other human being.

Kierkegaard on the other hand argued that the freedom is possible only if we develop self-consciousness. Although it leads to angst or anxiety, and can lead straightaway to sin, like with Abraham and Sarah, it can be also be helpful to enable one to reach its full potential and realize his freedom. His leap of faith can be considered both as bold or lazy - if man cast himself in unknown, he can become free, or he can enslave himself. Hegel thought that the progress of freedom is the development of one's consciousness. Hence, the birds aren't free- they don't have consciousness about their freedom. Sartre believed that everything is possible and that the world is absurd; there is no one above humans to whom they owe their freedom. And yet, they are still responsible for the actions they take and still need to avoid bad faith.

And after all that, they continued to ask and give answers. Nietzsche believed that the God was dead, that the salvation is hidden in the Übermensch - man brave enough to change the world by accepting that the world will be over created and again destroyed, a man that is not a morality slave of Christianity- and that the history is circular. He blamed Socrates for embracing the Apollonian element and raising it above the Dionysian, thus disturbing the balance, which Christianity continued to do after. Schopenhauer used a will as a noumenon, rather than Kant's thing-in-itself as a concept to depict the man as a being of will, predestinated on misery because of his constant desires. Feminism was born, Marxism flourished, but humans remained curious.

But what they constantly desire? What do they want?

Finally, they want to serve me. All they ever did, and all they ever do, they do for me. I have the right to freedom, and by making it their personal goal rather than common, I ensured my goal. Men are creatures of desire. However, they are still ignorant. They convinced themselves that all roads lead to Rome, but they actually lead to them, people. So many years, so many questions, so many arguments- from a priori to a posteriori, from Locke's tabula rasa and Berkeley's esse est percipi to the Fichte's Ich, from the ontology to ethics, from the ancient to new- they still desire. Knowledge, recognition, salvation, and finally, freedom. But truly, they can never fulfill their desires. Why? Because they put and formulate them in order to prove themselves to another human being. In the Maslow's hierarchy of needs, belongingness is marked prior primary. As a macrocosm in microcosm, man and not just God, represent one form of a Baroque mirror. (Leibniz, The Monadology) They are reflecting themselves in others, and with their opinions and views they form their identity. So the truth is that the whole mankind desires nothing but the one thing from the others- to make them their mirror, the surface in which they can reflect themselves. Finally, how they can prove themselves as human beings without others to judge and value their existence? After all, as Heraclitus said, 'Name of justice would still remain unknown if there isn't injustice'.

By creating and limiting human freedom with language, ego, and religion, I paved a way for revolutions and wars for freedom. But my main weapon was others, and by using them I compelled humans to serve me. So, the finite answer is- you are my weapon. In every man, you will see me, and every man will see me in you. But he will be convinced that he sees himself, and his goal. In that lays that's my power.

Finally, the Bastille has fallen. Mankind is more and more developed, and their sources of knowledge are wider and wider. However, they still need to tend to synthesis. Their spirit must not be objective, nor subjective, but absolute; developed through art, religion, and finally wisdom. Or in other words, philosophy.

But the knowledge always comes too late.

Minerva's owl always starts its flight at twilight.