Philosophizing and Insight
An emotional experience like young love or a harrowing event can arrest a person’s attention and push him into thinking deeply about it. Into philosophizing? For is a searching for meaning.
Perhaps this word – philosophizing – is too much, too soon, for young people face to face for the first time with a philosophy course.
And yet it was not so long ago when many of you were precocious children, delighting (or pestering) your parents with your never-ending “why” questions and “cute” observations. Why is the moon round? Why are you crying, Mama? Or why are you laughing all by yourself? You were not aware of it, but you were then indulging in some form of philosophizing.
I remember the time in college when my journalism professor entered our classroom with a phonograph. Tersely, she gave us instructions: to write a literary piece inspired by Debussy’s “Claire de Lune.” At eight o’clock in the morning it was really an imaginative feat to think of moonlight. But we were young and full of inspiration. My classmates, a gifted lot, turned out essays and short stories. I handed in the following sonnet (later published in our college organ):
Claire de Lune
Tonight the full moon holds a breathless peace
On still, dream-stricken houses, wraps a shield
Of utter loveliness round age-old trees
And streets that wind up in a drowsy field.
And yet this peaceful air, it seems to me,
Grows drenched with rhythmic magic like the blue
Of summer skies, like wavelets of the sea,
Becomes song-shaken like my love for you.
On such a night, I dare with half-shut eyes
To dream that you can be a part of me,
That life cam nimbly spring a quick surprise
That leaves us chains-unshackled, glorious, free;
To bring my fledgling wishes, magic-wise
Upon the threshold of infinity.
Was I Philosophizing? I think so. All poetry is philosophizing.
To me, all of eighteen then, moonlight meant love and romance. It meant different things to my classmates, and it means different things to the painter, the fisherman, the scientist, and the superstitious.
What I am trying to say is that one “sees” into something more than what meets the eye. It is what philosophers call “insight.”
Insight men have had ever since they used their intelligence and powers of reflection. The history of philosophy shows that men have seen and noticed things around them, thought and pondered on these, and acted on their reflections.
Father Roque J. Feriols, SJ., in his article “Insight,” says there ate two things to be considered regarding an insight: 1. The insight itself
2. What I so with the insight
I “heard” moonlight in Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” I “saw” moonlight in my mind. I “thought” of love, I “felt” love, and I “wrote” a sonned about it.
Father Ferriol’s mentions two techniques, in handling insights: 1. Use of metaphor
2. Use of conceptual analysis
According to Father Ferriols, “abstraction is one of the tools often used in the analysis of insights. An abstract thought is called a concept and analysis by abstraction is called a concept and analysis. He warns, however, that there is danger here: “… it can deiccate an insight.” So, he suggests one should “return to the concrete fullness of the original insight.”
Permit me to refer to another personal experience. A few months after my father’s death, I was caught by typhoon-like winds and rains on my way home. From our subdivision entrance it was more than a five-minute walk as the house. There were no houses on both sides of the road. I was afraid of being carried away by the wind. In my desperation I prayed. I asked my father for help, reminding him, “you know how terrified I am of the wind.” (Typhoon Yoling had blown off our entire roof and my father and I almost died.) Suddenly I was aware: there was no more wind. There was no more rain.
At the gate of our house, my youngest brother was waiting for me. He was...
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