To ‘Sonder’ The Fascinating Reality of Lives Around Us

When we were asked to write this piece for Austrian Philosophy, we immediately paused to think about how many pages of the internet we would need to fill – it was a bit of a you’re going to need a bigger boat moment – yes, we also promised to get a random Jaws reference in there somewhere.

Fortunately though, with a bit of careful thought and inspiration from a variety of sources, we think we’ve taken a good crack at it and in the process, have hopefully delivered something of interest.

The word Sonder derives from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, it’s classified as an invented word by John Koenig, it’s use is not widespread but it is incredibly poignant and relevant to us all – a word which although is little known, represents a feeling that is widely experienced.

To sonder generally means to realise that other people are living their own lives around us. Lives that are equally as complex as our own, each with their own difficulties, hurdles to cross and packages of joy to unravel.

It is, in other words, the realisation that although the strangers around us are a mere extra in our own story, a stranger drinking coffee in the corner of the cafe or a an office worker searching for deposit offers whilst riding the morning commuter train. Each of these people are in that moment living their lives, experiencing their own highs and lows, which may originate from similar or totally different places to your own. Continue reading “To ‘Sonder’ The Fascinating Reality of Lives Around Us”

Opening the doors for increased inclusiveness in Philosophy

Does philosophy have a culture problem? It’s something that’s worth thinking about, especially considering how many people honestly don’t like the idea of even bringing up race, culture, or the thought that we might have to improve the conversation in some way. Stereotypes harm productive discussion and in a realm like philosophy that’s the last thing that anyone wants.

So what can we do to increase inclusiveness within philosophy? Plenty, really.

1. Recognize Subtle Biases

We are often hypervigilant against open biases, because we know how damaging they can be. However, in our quest to stomp out the most obvious offenders, we ignore the stealthy ones that sneak right in through the front door and into the classroom. If you’re teaching a class, consider anonymous grading. This way you don’t think about race, gender, or background as you grade. The quality of the writing will stand out more than anything else.


2. Speak Up About Inclusiveness

When other people around you don’t know how to be inclusive, it’s often an infinite loop of frustration. People might not think to speak about more than just traditional European philosophers. There’s a wealth of knowledge in other cultures, to the point that we don’t think anyone’s ever truly reaped all of the available knowledge out there. There are so many underrepresented backgrounds that it’s hard to know where to really get started on such an issue. Continue reading “Opening the doors for increased inclusiveness in Philosophy”

Exploring Logic as a Primary Topic

When it comes to philosophy topics, we need to definitely talk about logic. We’re not talking about simply “true/false” thinking, either. Logic is something that goes beyond that. Logic is basically the study of all of the core principles of proper reasoning. Basically, we need to look at the right way to reason things out, because it forms the bedrock of all conversations. Think about it: when’s the last time you wanted to get someone to truly believe your point of view? It probably wasn’t that long ago, right? Well, logic forms the basis of persuasive conversation. We use logic in order to get people to see our point of view. Debates happen all the time, and if we want to be seen as the “winner”, we have to be able to reason properly. Logic is how we do such a thing.

When we discuss the core of logic, what we are ultimately discussing is whether an argument is actually valid. For example:

If Mary is an artist, then Mary is poor.

Mary is an artist.

Hence, Mary is poor.

At this point, weíre still talking about structure rather than actual validity (obviously, there are some really wealthy artists, and some really poor ones!), but logic gets into these structures quite often. This type of structure is referred to as “modus ponens”, one of the simplest structures available. If X, then Y. X. Hence (or therefore), Y.

As you can see, we can take these structures and figure out how valid arguments are once we have some type of framework. Logic is necessary to study alongside philosophy, and the two topics actually go together.

What are some other structures that you see every day, even in popular media? As you study philosophy, these structures will become even more apparent.

Is It Worth It to Explore Philosophy?

Are you selecting a college major right now, or just want a really interesting minor? Do you find yourself in an odd place professionally, and need something to break up the tension? My friend, you have bought yourself a ticket to the world of philosophy without even realizing it. You see, philosophy is more than just a few people passing topics back and forth in a coffee shop. It is really a study of how we think and what our purpose in life really is. It’s the theory of knowledge, constructed around a series of conversations that have spanned thousands of years.

If you want some basic reasons to study philosophy, we’ve compiled a few:

1. There are no right answers

The fact that there aren’t any true correct answers in philosophy might sound like a reason to avoid it. However, this is the exact reason why philosophy majors are getting a second life throughout multiple industry sectors. Philosophy encourages the pursuit of new discoveries through looking at old information differently. If you’re someone that gets a rush at looking at all of the possibilities, philosophy will help you expand. Companies like people that can think “out of the box”, so to speak.


2. Logic is important

Everyone’s heard of logical fallacies, but philosophy encourages you to study them in depth. Once you do that, you’ll be able to read at a different level. People will not be able to easily persuade you with fluff and flattery because you’ll see through it. And you’ll recognize the infamous straw man attack, where people put up false information only to use it as a means to tear down an argument without really having any substance to back up their words.

3. References become more obvious

The more we study the past, the more we study where culture gets its new creations. There is truly nothing new under the sun, and philosophy really goes out of its way to expose this on an interesting level. You might want to go ahead and study a bit to see if you can get more out of philosophy than other subjects.

You might be surprised where philosophy takes you. Many people that are interested in law also take philosophy because it opens their minds to new pathways. But you don’t have to be in school in order to get something out of philosophy. If you’re in the business of talking to people and having to relate to them, then philosophy plays a role in this as well. Why not explore more topics today?