Craig Copeland


Ah... Philosophy

Current Definition: the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.

The Greek word Philosophy means “love of wisdom.”

Philosophy can be a powerful tool for learning and understanding different ideas, attitudes, viewpoints, thinking, and ways of life. It’s valuable when dealing with another’s beliefs in the area of religion, politics, and even common sense. When we contemplate other avenues of thought, it creates a mindset that looks at the world in a non-judgmental way, and this can actually open up one’s ability to create and imagine.

Rene Descartes was the first to dismiss apparent knowledge derived from authority, the senses, and reason, and instead, he erected new epistemic foundations on the basis of the intuitive mind.

Depending upon the subject matter, philosophy can take on different aspects for different reasons, contemplation, pondering of an idea, understanding a point of view or the reasons certain laws and rules exist, morality, civilized behavior, and even irrational thought or behavior.

Philosophy is not always about solving problems, though it can often lead in that direction. Different areas of philosophy are distinguished by the questions they ask.

Several philosophical subjects these days include questions like:

“Why are there so many more shootings in the United States than ever before?”

“Why are these shootings occurring more in schools, churches, and places of business?”

“Why is there such a widening divide these days between political parties?”

And “Why are we suddenly revisiting issues like Roe vs. Wade?”

Then there are the more non-solution-based philosophical discussions about things such as:

“Do our senses accurately describe reality?”

“What makes wrong actions wrong?” 

“How should we live?”

There are also the more investigative philosophical discussions about existence that lead to new avenues of thought and contemplation:

“Where do we come from?”

“Where are we going?”

“Are we serving God to the best of our ability?”

“Why is life so meaningless to some and so meaningful to others?”

“Why are there multiple variations of gods, Greek, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc.?”

Critical thinking, ethical questions, understanding perspectives, evaluating information, and creative idealism are just some of the many areas of philosophical contemplation.

I would amend this slightly and say it is more about the pursuit of contemplation, understanding, and curiosity. It’s a way to consider various subjects with the idea of learning rather than solving a problem.

The Importance of Philosophy

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (470–399 BC.) said, “Wonder is the beginning of philosophy.” Socrates meant that philosophical thinking begins at that moment when we stop taking things for granted, marvel at them, and ask questions that drive further exploration.

Interestingly, Socrates did not write anything. Instead, he practiced philosophy by talking with people. We know about Socrates through the writings of his students, especially Plato.

Philosophical thinking does not mean ignoring our feelings or investigating things in a way that is completely detached from all practical concerns. On the contrary, philosophical thinking is often based on feelings and practical concerns, both of which are important parts of life.

Philosophical thinking is concerned with life and the ideas behind why it matters. It’s facilitated by giving our attention to a subject matter. This is what contemplation consists of. It can also be fun, whimsical, and titillating in both its investigation and exploration.

It doesn’t require us to focus on only one question or try to solve every issue all at once or even once and for all. That is because philosophy is concerned with how we look at life, and it encourages us to be present with how things change.

Contrary to what is presumed, philosophical thinking is not characterized by rationality. Rationality means believing what is supported by reason. It also means acting on the basis of reason. While our beliefs can be primarily based upon rationality, philosophical contemplation includes many paths to consider. It, therefore, remains open in both its speculation and consideration of new thoughts and ideas.

Philosophy actually challenges us to see things from a different perspective. It requires one to hold judgment while considering a line of thinking. In this way, it confers intellectual independence.

The premise of philosophy is essentially: “How can I really know something?” and “What would I do with that knowledge?”

Typically, philosophy is divided into five areas of thought:

Metaphysics – The Study of Existence
Epistemology – The Study of Knowledge
Ethics – The Study of Action
Politics – The Study of Force
Esthetics – The Study of Art

In terms of intuitive thinking, and our ability to reach farther, since we are, after all, natural explorers, is for us to ponder questions for sake of both deeper understanding and exploration and promote the discovery of new thoughts and ideas.

The Art of Imaginative Philosophy

For the sake of intuition, let’s get a little esoteric with our questions in order to see where creative thought can lead us and begin to flourish.

For example, have you ever considered why the hands of a clock rotate “clockwise” or in a right circular motion, rather than a left circular motion?

The obvious and logical answer is that some of the earliest timepieces were sundials. In the northern hemisphere, the shadow of the dial traces clockwise as the sun moves through the sky, so when clocks were being developed in medieval times, their hands were made to turn in the same direction.

This apparently logical reasoning is that is the way that the sun passed over sundials. But that would only apply in the Northern hemisphere. If you were living, however, in the Southern hemisphere, say South Africa or Australia, the shadow would, of course, move counterclockwise. In this way, the theory goes that most of civilization at the time evolved in the northern hemisphere. So why did we adopt this general rule of motion? And should we also consider need to also consider AM & PM Anti Meridian and Post Meridian?

Do You know the Original Order of Colors?

What about the philosophy of colors? Who decided universally that everyone would agree on the idea that the color blue is indeed blue?

Interestingly, Blue was also often confused with yellow back in the day. The Proto-Indo-European word was bhle-was and meant “light-colored, blue, blond-yellow.” Its root was bhel which meant to shine. In Proto-Germanic, the word was blaewaz, and in Old English, it was blaw.

And while we know that the earliest form of English is based upon Old English or Anglo-Saxon (c. year 550–1066), old English initially developed from a set of West Germanic dialects, often grouped as Anglo-Frisian or North Sea Germanic, and was originally spoken along the coasts of Frisia, Lower Saxony and southern Jutland by Germanic peoples known to the historical record as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Later on, several romance languages were incorporated (French, Spanish, Italian, Greek) as well as Latin.

In Old French (one of the Latin dialects whose height was between the 9th and 13th centuries AD), blue was written bleu and blew and meant a variety of things including the color blue. It was said to be based upon the visible color spectrum, but still, how did an entire planet agree that blue would be blue?

The only ancient culture to develop a word for blue was the Egyptians — and as it happens, they were also the only culture at that time who had a way to produce a blue dye.

And when did blue (and other colors) begin to represent emotion?

[Plutchik’s Color Wheel of Emotions]

As children, we are taught that blue is blue, but never the reasons behind why it is called blue. How did so many different places and people of the world all decide that blue would be blue? Was there a council meeting nobody told me about?

In 1858 William Gladstone, the four-time minister of Great Britain and an expert on Homer, found that, interestingly, in the Iliad and the Odyssey, the color ‘blue’ was oddly never mentioned. Instead, the sea is described with a dark shade of red (wine dark).

And what about the different shades of colors? Who names them? Are different shades of blue named by the people who discovered them, or are the naming’s of colors the same process as the naming of streets?

Can Someone Create Their Own Color?

International Klein Blue is a deep blue color that was formulated by French artist Yves Klein and used in a number of his art pieces. His fascination with monochrome artistic designs led to this pursuit. His International Klein Blue (IKB) is a deep blue hue whose visual impact comes from its heavy reliance on ultramarine, as well as Klein’s often thick and textured application of paint to canvas.

Ultramarine is a deep blue color pigment that was originally made by grinding lapis lazuli (a mineral) into a powder. The name comes from the Latin ultramarinus, which literally means ‘beyond the sea’ or ‘from overseas’ because the pigment was primarily imported into Europe from mines in Afghanistan by Italian traders during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Ultramarine was the finest and most expensive blue used by Renaissance painters. It was often used for the robes of the Virgin Mary, and symbolized holiness and humility. It remained an extremely expensive pigment until a synthetic ultramarine was invented in 1826.

There are also the different tones of blue used by another well-known artist Vermeer in his painting of the Girl with a Pearl Earring [1665], Johannes Vermeer used two shades of blue, produced at the time from what was considered the expensive unltramarine. Vermeer (1632–1675) is known for his brilliant blue colors, and his frequent use of the costly natural ultramarine. It was by far the most expensive blue pigment available in the seventeenth century.


And when were colors assigned to Chakras?

So why all these ramblings about blue?

The idea of these ramblings is to show you the open-endedness of philosophy. By its very nature, philosophy’s job is to provoke new and different lines of thought, thereby promoting newer avenues of exploration and discovery. Philosophy, therefore, is another branch of curiosity with smatterings of exploration and hypothesizing, as illustrated in the contemplation of a paradox like that of Schrodinger’s Cat:


Here’s another philosophical conundrum… My favorite phrase is: “Society is cookie-cutter, but people are not.”

In order not to live chaotically, we have adopted routines. Organization and repetition, having particular ways to do things keeps order and sometimes one’s sanity. Yet when parents come against children who are hyperactive, have autism, Asperger’s, Downs Syndrome, or other “non-normal” traits, parents can get frustrated and exhausted because their children won’t adhere to schedules or logical routines.

The ironic philosophy of this is that as we gain more information, many of these children are proving more and more to be of a heightened skillset or set of abilities in some area of their lives, often showing exceptional aptitude that makes them unique.

So, the philosophical question becomes, who is the odd man out here?

If people like, Mozart, Einstein, Jobs, Gates, Musk, etc. all were problematic, to who were they considered a problem, and in what areas? Should we have just medicated them as medical practice tends to do in order to keep them in line and obedient? And where do we draw the line, and who gets to decide this?

Flipping the Paradigm:

Philosophy allows us to look at a point of view from a new perspective.

Let’s take three obvious areas of what is considered to be a problem child and turn these points of view upside down:

Distractibility, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity

Society labels these three conditions as issues that can be both disruptive and create discord. Because the nature of these three states can be considered disruptive, we often struggle between letting them run their course and the simple avenue of medicating those who display these (indicators).

This situation appears to be most concerning in schools where the classroom demands certain decorum and orderly behavior. It is also why creativity and intuitive thinking are cultivated out of children at an early age, with no better reasoning than to maintain obedience and order.

But if we turn these three “problem areas” around, we suddenly notice new opportunities for how we look at them:

Distractibility now becomes Curiosity

Impulsivity converts to Creativity

Hyperactivity turns into Energy

This model of philosophy allows us to observe, investigate, consider, ponder, theorize, and hypothesize about a topic, idea, or thought from a new perspective.

Why Michael Faraday Considered Himself to be a Philosopher

While Faraday referred to himself as a philosopher, what I believe he really meant was that he was a natural philosopher, which, at the time, was what many referred to themselves as the word scientist was not widely used. Galileo, Charles Darwin, and Isaac Newton also considered themselves natural philosophers. It was dominant before the development of modern science. Until the 19th century, natural philosophy was the common term for the study of physics (nature). The term ‘natural philosophy’ wasn’t transformed until the Scientific Revolution era in 16th- to 17th-century Europe.

New Science that emerged was more mechanistic in its worldview, more integrated with mathematics, more reliable and open in its knowledge, and was based on a newly defined scientific method. It involved careful observation by applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. Before that, natural philosophy was more about speculation, observation, exploration, and theory.

Four Valuable Methods for Enhancing Your Philosophical Mindset:

1: Keeping Questions Open-Ended Rather Than Drawing Conclusions

When approaching an idea or issue with an open attitude you don’t limit your avenues of possibility. In this way, you allow more of your creativity, imagination, and playful mindset to thrive. By not drawing specific conclusions, initially, Einstein was able to theorize based on imagery and hypothesis, using simple to comprehend concepts in order to understand and theorize the deeper aspects of what he was attempting to discover and define.

Einstein’s famous thought experiments. The image of riding a beam of light. He created these deceptively simple scenarios to explore the most complex concepts.

If light were a wave, then no matter how fast it travels, it ought to be possible to catch up to its peaks or valleys.

Runing Beside a Beam of Light

When using imagery and keeping your questions open-ended, you create a philosophical platform for many avenues of discovery.

2: Finding Your Sense of Curiosity

Somewhere along our path of adulthood, we lose our sense of playful curiosity, replacing it with the need to draw empirical conclusions. This occurs most when our focus is on business concerns, especially when looking to maintain competitive advantage, be first to market, or simply for monetary gain. Yet the value of curiosity is often lost in this equation, which is both sad and ironic since curiosity is the driver for creation. By allowing your curious nature to surface, you challenge your understanding of things and remain open to exploration. Curiosity becomes the driver for philosophical discovery.

To successfully do this, there are two simple steps to consider. One is to ask more questions. Conditioning yourself to do this takes a little practice since we are typically in a state of looking for the answer and then moving on to the next issue at hand. When you rid yourself of the need to draw conclusions and the desire to establish a logical framework, you gain better choices. It is not in the adult’s nature to foster curiosity, but those who can regain and maintain this style of wonderment are often the ones who develop new ideas and concepts on a higher level.

Secondly, develop (or rekindle) a sense of wonder and fascination. Begin to look at everything you see as if for the very first time. This will give your mind a new set of questions and ideas when reintroducing yourself to something familiar in this way. A good trick for doing this is to be like Sherlock Holmes. He never assumed, and he learned to approach something from a new angle both mentally and visually. He felt that if you assumed a conclusion, there was nowhere else to go and that you could not explore the deeper meanings.

In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Sherlock Holmes instructs his associate Watson on the difference between seeing and observing:

“When I hear you give your reasons,” Watson remarked, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning, I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.”

“Quite so,” Holmes answered. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up to our apartment from the hallway.”


“How often?”

“Well, some hundreds of times.”

“Then how many steps are there?”

“How many? I have no clue.”

3: Looking Deeper by Asking Harder Questions

Philosophy is about asking the harder questions. Curiosity is the springboard for opening us up to divergent ways to see things, and when you can learn to dive deeper into an issue or contemplation, this is where the real juice is. What this means is that we tend to stop searching and investigating when we come to a logical conclusion as that is the basis for reason and understanding. And because of this, we never look deeper for reasonings that might further explain why something is so.

As children we ask so many questions, yet are often confronted with a simple, conclusive answer as a way to get us to stop asking deeper (sometimes annoying) questions. This conditions us to place the need to not annoy over the need to learn and discover. But there is so much more to learning and discovery than just getting the one answer.

A better way to understand this is to look at what motivates those Disruptors who decided to venture down their particular path of exploration.

We’ve all heard about Thomas Edison’s thousand experiments to discover the lightbulb. But why did Michael Faraday also carry out over 16,000 experiments in order to discover the laws of electromagnetism? What drove them? What made Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay risk life and (literally) limb, to conquer a mountain that didn’t care about them? What made Alan Turing risk everything in order to create his Turing machine? Why did Amelia Earhart decide to risk her life for adventure? What made Marie Curie jeopardize her health and life in order to help others?

All of them were driven by a deeper motivation than just their need to look beneath the surface of why things are the way they are.

Another reason we don’t ask the deeper questions is that we don’t always know how to ask questions that don’t involve the ‘self’. Often, people ask questions relating to where they fit in within the world, about how others view or feel towards them, and questions about likeability. Oddly, these questions have little to do with connection.

Brené Brown once asked, “What is the opposite of belonging?” The answer is “fitting in.”

We desire to fit in rather than going for the deeper, sometimes uncomfortable, and riskier questions that may or may not cause someone to like or not like us.

This need for conformity limits one’s ability to challenge ourselves, challenge the world, and question what we know to be true. It confines us to limit our desire to explore farther, question greater, and discover more.

This all has to do with how ego blocks knowledge. It takes the ability to risk being vulnerable and not always being right. It’s hard to not feel like one fits in, but it’s harder (in terms of growth) when one stops asking the deeper questions just because they don’t want to rock the boat or feel like an outsider, and instead, just desiring acceptance.

4: Questioning Your Beliefs and Assumptions

By now we know that many of our beliefs are based upon tribal conditioning. We adopt a belief into our idealism, not necessarily because it’s true, but because it is what our tribe believes. For example, some religions believe in hell, some do not. Some believe (or believed) in multiple gods, and some do not. Some societies accept prejudice and racism as the norm. Others do not. There was a time when we believed that the gods shook the earth, that dragons and demons existed, and that the health of crops was the condition of either pleasing or upsetting one’s deity. In early medicine, we practiced the drilling of someone’s skull (known as trephining) in order to release the demons.

Today, in some ways we haven’t progressed much beyond this thinking. Again, we don’t often challenge our beliefs but accept them as true, for us. There are still great divides, not just in the area of religious belief versus atheism, but even different types of religions are at odds with each other. Whose god is right? Which is real?

Another area where our beliefs may be unfounded is that in America, we tend to discard our elderly, sending them away rather than what many Europeans and other cultures do by honoring their lives by keeping them in the family home and caring for them.

We also see that our beliefs can create roadblocks in the areas of politics, cultural and ethnic differences, race, financial status, educational accomplishments, and even ageism.

These non-grounded prejudices keep us limited, offering nothing more than the ability to defend one’s position with often unfounded beliefs.   

In order to grow in their thinking, one has to question and challenge their own personal beliefs. How did you acquire these beliefs? What is their purpose? Do they serve you or hinder you? Are they keeping you from growth and opportunity?

When we question and challenge our beliefs, we open ourselves up to deeper learning, to further exploration, to gaining better connections, and to the development of new possibilities and opportunities. In this way, we no longer live in fear or ignorance, and we promote personal development by fostering and nurturing our intuition over the acceptance of what is typically the norm.

Practicing these areas of philosophically challenging one’s assumptions can give you a deeper understanding of how contemplation can greatly expand, develop, and enhance your best areas of thinking.

Other Articles:

All Category: Philosophical Mindset Articles

Here is a complete list of articles I have written on the Philosophical Mindset. Enjoy!