A few years ago I attended a course in practical philosophy in London. Each student of the School of Economic Science received the booklet Philosophy Works. A couple of times a year I still read the booklet. The ambitious purpose of Philosophy Works is to provide the reader with tools to allow him/ her to begin the process of self-discovery. It is a guide for a day-by-day process of transformation. The main statement:
“Wisdom arises from experience rather than information.”
I liked the course because all students were encouraged to experiment, to apply wisdom in daily life, to share experiences and to discuss the results with others. Socrates already said an unexamined life is not worth living. For the most of us it was the first time to live philosophy. We were all normal human being, we came from at least 15 different countries, we were all different, nobody had a philosophical background, we were just interested in wisdom, we wanted to consider the direction and meaning of our lives. The course and the booklet gave us some direction.
There are a lot of great quotes and lessons in Philosophy Works, I will mention three that have touched me most:
“What does it mean to remain true to yourself? Take a note on one particular day of the mental and emotional changes that take place. Constantly return to that which remains constant, and from a state of stillness observe all the changes in the heart and mind.”
“Work on self-knowledge is work on being. Give yourself time to simply be rather than desperately trying to become something else.”
“There is a difference between reason and justification. Don’t try to use reason to justify the unreasonable.”
I do think practical philosophy can guide change in the world. Gandhi, Socrates and Martin L. King are great examples of practical philosophers. In fact we should all become practical philosophers…. How do you become a philosopher? Just start, just experiment, just bring wisdom into practice.