I have been asked to write an article on “philosophy (not religion)” and this has me wondering … why would we separate the two, and if we have, which we have, when and how did that happen and would it serve to reunite them once again?
There was once a time when science, religion and philosophy were one.
We observed life, made sense of the mechanics of it (science), delved deeper into our understanding of it (philosophy) and explored our relationship with it (religion).
This applied to everything: people, plants, the stars … everything in life.
We had a relationship with everything (religion) which underpinned and supported our understanding of it (philosophy).
The ancients, such as Pythagoras and later the Pythagorean student Plato, were astute scientists and mathematicians, profound philosophers and deeply religious men.
In more recent times, scientists such as Galileo Galilei and Leonardo da Vinci were also deeply philosophical and religious people, as was Albert Einstein.
Even now, many scientists, especially those who work with quantum physics, are also deeply philosophical and religious … for the three are indivisible, in truth.
So when did we come to separate out science from philosophy and learn to revile religion?
The great divide
When the time came for Plato to choose a successor for the leadership of the Academy in ancient Greece, he passed over Aristotle in favour of another student, and Aristotle reacted.
He set up his own school of science and philosophy which was largely devoid of the religion with which philosophy had been previously imbued.
His teachings were widely accepted and led to a great divergence of the teachings from those of the past, celebrating the mind at the expense of the heart and soul, a divide which we have been living with ever since, to our great detriment.
But it suited us to see ourselves as masters of our own domain, relying on our own experiences of life to guide us, rather than surrendering ourselves as willing subjects of a much greater power, a power that is equally inside us all, that presides over and lovingly holds all that is.
The irony of this separation is that in our attempt to be more powerful than we think we are, we have rendered ourselves power-less … force-full, yes; but when it comes to true power, to authentic love, wisdom and true intelligence, we have sold ourselves far short of who we naturally are.
Restoring true philosophy
The word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek, philosophia, meaning ‘love of wisdom’ and in understanding that the meaning and origins of philosophy are rooted in love and wisdom, we may come to restore its true meaning and purpose again.
Wisdom is mind with heart, not the heart-less mental exercise that much of modern philosophy has become, and if we can restore the love with which we see and think about things, people and life, we will go a long way towards restoring true philosophy again.
A true philosopher loves people and life, and this is the purpose for deepening our understanding of each other and the world we live in, in a way that we can lovingly share with others, for the great benefit of all.