What is important about being human?
How should we live? Who decides that?
Is there a goal to life? Does God exist?
What makes Evil? Are people selfish?
How do we find answers to these questions?
This book is a collection of materials that can help students in search of Wisdom discuss important questions and ideas. It is not a complete collection of all the writings that could be considered Philosophy or Wisdom, of course. It is, instead, a tasting of differing approaches to the big questions of, “how should we live and why?”, and “what is important about being human?”.
I have tried to include materials from varied cultures, many eras, and diverse perspectives. This is not altogether simple to do, as there is so much available that one might almost be buried alive in marvelous material! But Philosophy is not just the field of study involving a focus on Western white men who tell us what to think. Philosophy is the study of wisdom, and wisdom comes in many shapes and perspectives. The Western white men had tons of wisdom and we have those men generously represented here. Many other people of varied genders, races, ages and eras also have wisdom to share, make us think, and to make us wonder. So pieces of a few other remarkably well known writers will be included that are not considered traditional Philosophers. This is still very much a book of Western Philosophy. It just includes material that has influenced the West from other parts of the globe and non-traditional sources.
You will find, in this book, everything from short essays to news columns, interviews and comedy, dialogues and letters. You will certainly encounter Aristotle and Socrates, but you will also find Aesop, Peggy Orenstein, Elie Wiesel, fairy tales, the Dalai Lama, Stephen Colbert, and Rumi. Among many others!
You might enjoy watching this brief set of comments from Oxford University Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah on what philosophers do.
My hope for this book of materials was to provide a diversity of ideas found in centuries of human reflection on the meaning of life, and how one acquires Wisdom, and thus provide the opportunity for students to think and talk and explore. There are some big ideas involved in living and living well. Those ideas provide for exciting discussions.
Lake Superior College, Duluth, MN