Some Philosophical Ideas which Have Fascinated me

For a long time, I have been reading literary and philosophical texts. I would like enumerate some ideas which have fascinated me.

When I think about Socrates I am astounded. He was the wisest man alive. His famous dictum is: ‘know thy self’. Looking at it philosophically, one really cannot know the self to the fullest extent. Still one is fascinated by the idea of the self and its knowing. I marvel at Socrates who became a martyr all for the sake of being a philosopher.

Next I am astonished with the Plato’s allegory of the cave. He has used this allegory to explain the theory of forms. All men live in a dark cave and from its wall, they can see a bright light penetrating them. What Plato meant was there is a super-sensible world outside the existence of a sensible world.

Next I would like to take the concept of dialectics. Dialectics is as old as Socrates. He used dialectics as method of question and answer and there by arriving at the truth. The concept of dialectics was transformed by Hegel. For Hegel there was a thesis, an anti-thesis and synthesis. The idea of dialectics was further transformed by Marx into dialectical materialism. For him all history was based on the idea of production. The producers were the capitalists and the workers were the proletariat. All the super-structure of the society like its legal, political and cultural institutions stemmed directly from a materialist base that is the productive capacity. In a capitalist system the proletariat becomes exploited. Marx believed that a revolution would take place and communism would be established on the ends of the earth.

Next I would like to take up Nietzsche’s theory of Art called as the Birth of Tragedy. Art occurs when the Apollonian and Dionysian elements coincide. Apollonian elements consist of melody and the Dionysian elements consist of rhythm and beat. Art is born with the merger of the two.

Next I would like to take Camus’ Myth of the Sisyphus. Sisyphus was person who was condemned by the Gods to roll a boulder all the way up a hill only to his angst he finds that it rolls down again. Camus’ portrays the dreaded monotony and angst of human life. It is for this reason that Camus became an atheistic, existential nihilist.

Next I would like to take up Sartre’s idea of being-in-itself and being-for-itself. Being-in-itself is a primary consciousness and being-for-itself is a consciousness that is directed towards objects. For Sartre existentialism is a philosophy whereby we have to place responsibility for our actions. Relying on God or others is considered by him as an act of bad faith.

Next I would like to take up the Freudian concepts of the Id, Ego and the Super Ego and also his dream analysis. The Id is the primary seat of our passions, the ego is the culture that is brought into existence by our parents and the super-ego is the laws of the society. A self has to tight-rope-walk alternating a balance, an equilibrium between the id, ego and super ego. Dreams for Freud are based on condensation and displacement. Condensed dreams are a fusion of varied symbolic imagery. Displacement in dreams is escapism. The follower of Freud, Lacan said that all dreams are structured in language. Dreams are metaphors and metonymies. According to linguist Roman Jacobson, metaphors occur on the syntagmatic axis and metonymies occur on the paradigmatic axis.

Another fascinating concept that influenced me deeply was Saussure’s concept of the sign. A sign is made up of the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the visual, tangible element whereas the signified is an abstract idea. For example in a sentence: dove is peace: dove is the signifier and peace the signified.
Next I am moving on into Derrida’s concept of deconstruction. According to deconstruction, signs in texts privilege some and marginalize others. For example: a native English speaker is preferred in an International school over people from decolonized countries. For Derrida, the aim of reading a text is to unveil its structural oppositions.

Next I would like to take up Lacan’s concept of the Mirror Stage. The mirror stage is a stage when the child becomes to learn the self and learns to disassociate its bonding with the mother. When the self is realized, for Lacan the problem begins. Desire and lack enter the realm of the self. From a world of plenitude the child comes to understand scarcity. The mirror stage is widely used in film studies and dissects how the spectator becomes enchanted with the spectacle of the cinema. Laura has said that Cinema must incorporate gay, lesbian and feminine gazes into its themes.

Next I would like to take up: Kristeva’s concept of the Semiotic and the Symbolic. The semiotic is a realm where syntax and grammar are avoided. For example: we encounter the semiotic in dance, music and streams of consciousness narrative. They symbolic is a realm where grammar and syntax and the rules of language adhere. Legal, political and medicinal texts are symbolic in nature. For Kristeva art is a fusion of the semiotic and the symbolic.


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