Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sophie's World - A Report from Prachi

The following report has been presented without any significant editing. I find it very much to MY Taste. I liked the report for its unconventional approach to the entire THING. I thought that you ALL would enjoy to some extent - if not entirely. And Oh yes - this is just the 1st part. Hope to receive more from her. 

The book starts off with the same charm that it could strongly retain throughout. If one wasn't informed that this was a philosophy book, it'd have felt just like reading a down-to-earth story about the slow-paced, mysterious life of Sophie Amundsen. The writer efficiently paved the path towards an actual fact-based philosophy lesson. 

Once a topic was disclosed, it was very hard to stop reading, mainly because something dormant in my mind was forced to stir up and question itself, and everything around it. From the beginning of the human race we were born with intuition. Somehow midst the transparent habits that society induced us with (thank you Sophists!), it seems that intuition can in those unfortunate cases, be buried. 

The most confusing thing that I came across in this book was: upon understanding the different ways with which these philosophers tried to figure out this world, each and every one of them seemed to make sense, and I found myself nodding in humble agreement. Yet, as the writer was done talking about one, he immediately brought about another concept to shatter the previous one. For instance, when Plato believed that everything has an universal 'form' that was unchangeable and perfect in its flow and which everything we saw, followed (Hence horses are horses and humans are humans (rather than hu-rses)); in trots Aristotle, flipping the concept on its head and expressing that maybe everything that exists, exists in different categories, from which they acquire that 'form'. It's confusing because they seem so right in the beginning! 

I made sure that I thought independently over the initial questions that came before each lesson, and some that baffled me were: "Do you believe in Fate?" - (To an extent.. but then what happens of free will? Or is it an illusion?). "Is sickness the punishment of the gods?" (If we were intervened by divine power in this life, then what of its purpose? So, no? But what of “karma” then?!) "Decide whether you think that man has an eternal soul."- (not a question, but.. if everything takes on a specific immutable 'form' or a 'form' dictates the creation of a flow of everything, isn't the soul a subject to it? Or are we just referring to this mystery as a 'soul' because some logical-biological explanation hasn't crossed our minds yet? But (!) eternal bliss sounds so irresistible, the soul has to be immortal.)

The pace of the book is very comforting. It's helpful to have almost all the difficult concepts take different forms in terms of numerous examples and allowing the time for the information to seep in and be engraved onto the brain. Each time that the author touches upon the story of a great philosopher's life, consciousness feels elevated and the presumed convictions I had seem to be slightly shaken. (No immortal soul? What is an immortal soul?) There's also great diversity in the book that fascinated me, it only depended on the way you looked at it. It can easily be a history book with the accounts of Alexander the Great, the birth of Christianity, the long chain of great men that emerged from the line of Socrates himself. It can be a book for the peace and affirmation of the soul, or the denunciation of one. It can be a passionate book on Sophie's little mysteries or the fluttering life of a teenager. 

If one observed closely, this book was so carefully written that a firm bridge between the world of philosophy and the world of science can be drawn. From the element theories of Parminedes or Empedocles to the atom theory of Democritus, it seemed, if not from anywhere else, they paved the way towards those great discoveries Man has been making now, while denouncing some philosophers as unimportant. Yet (!), their passion rests on the same pillow. 

P. S.

The first thing about this book that made me almost empathize with the excitement of a toddler was when my assumptions chanced on this: "philoSOPHY'S world" (?)

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