Shakespeare wrote about the acts of man during different stages of life. What about the process of formation of man’s philosophy during these stages? Here is my attempt at answering this question. (Disclosure: I am using the word man to reference homo sapiens)
Stage 1: Philosophy Imitation
- When we are children, we don’t have our own philosophy. We tend to adopt the world views of our parents and that of the different environments and people we are exposed to.
- During adolescence and through the time of our schooling, we imitate the cool peers and that’s who we want to be.
- As we grow older and enter the work force, we try to imitate and adopt the same philosophy of our career role models.
- It is during this stage that a lot of us perhaps face our first philosophy conflict
- We are exposed to this vast world in front of us. Post school, there is lack of structure and no real defined path. This, along with our past experiences with philosophy imitation, makes it difficult for us to know which philosophy to follow. We try to draw from past experiences but they may not be so relevant anymore. We imitate the ones above us (i.e. leaders at work) but now that we have some history with different philosophies, their philosophies may not resonate with us.
Stage 2: Philosophy Crisis and Search Process
- This is when we have a philosophy crisis and we begin a philosophy search process, if we are the type that thinks deeply and cares enough to figure themselves out (A lot of people don’t go on this search and follow the imitation game).
- This search could be a long, tedious and painful process. It requires deep thinking, reflection, drawing from memory and truly understanding yourself. It begins with testing different philosophies to see which one fits you best.
Stage 3: Crafting your own Philosophy
- After a painful search and testing process, things slowly begin to fall in place and this is the launch of the third stage.
- You now have a better understanding of yourself and have a draft of your own philosophy.
- This stage also involves testing your draft philosophy in different situations, adapting, modifying and challenging your draft philosophy.
- As you go through this process, you will begin to form a concrete version of your unique philosophy.
Philosophy imitation -> Philosophy conflict -> Philosophy search -> Draft of own philosophy -> Philosophy testing, modifying, adapting (constant process) -> Concrete version of unique philosophy
Now, another problem begins. We have formed a more final version of our philosophy. Every time we encounter someone who has a different philosophy (worldview), we automatically feel more distant from this person and throw this person out of our circle. This may be fine, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other person is wrong. In fact your goals may be the same (or similar), but your approach (philosophy) to getting there and viewing the world may be different. It’s these people who share different philosophies who start to become strangers. This is why we hang out with people who are like us. This is why it becomes harder to change our minds as we grow older — we have formed a concrete version of our philosophy and we cement it further by hanging out with people like us.
Have your own philosophy but be open to interacting with those who have different ones and see where they come from. Be open to perhaps modifying your philosophy. We stop this modification process as we get older but it’s important to be nimble and at the same time not forget yourself.