NOTE: “Leadership Reflections” shares views of the different members of the University Leadership Council on matters related to campus life and the operations of the University. As well, it features opinions on issues of national and/or international relevance.
The Relevance of Philosophy to People's Lives
By Dr. Reynaldo Y. Rivera, Dean, School of Public Affairs and Governance
Philosophy actually centers its inquiry on the nature of man as a thinking being. Others like Aristotle think of philosophy as an inquiry into the mystery of man as animal rationale, or, as Socrates points out, a love of wisdom but only when one has transcended living a life beyond what Kant thinks as the analytical or conceptual transcendence level of thinking.
Today, we stop at the analytical or the conceptual level of thinking. We calculate things through definitions, theories, concepts and formulas. We have become technological in the way we think of things and this is caused by the fragmentation of courses in specializations. And so we learn more and more about less (Durant, 1983). We cannot think outside of our specialized discipline and so we tend to create a sort of “blinders” among ourselves. This calculative thinking in us limits our ability to think more in the likes of Galileo, Newton, Einstein and Quantum physicists. Effective thinking is gone because we insulate our minds with the Aristotelian doctrine of logical categories. Hence, the “blinders” in us began with Aristotle's Logical categories. And this engages us to partial philosophy. We impose restrictions on us to think more and if we stretch this thinking we end up in what Thomas Kuhn calls “Shifting of Paradigms”, a derivative or logical thinking which confines thinking in the narrow paths of learning.
Hard philosophy thinks of the unknown or the seeking of the nothing. It adventures to learn the nothing and to think of the nothing. This is St. Paul's thinking too. Paul wants us to nurture our “conviction for the unknown.” He wants us to think of “things unseen” because this is an eternal knowing, not transient. The discovery of “air resistance” or the “Force theory” (F =ma) or the E =MC2 , the Quantum physicists, “principle of complimentarity” and “uncertainty” discovery of the sun as the center of the universe many centuries before Copernicus popularized it, Faraday's “electromagnetic induction” to Maxwell's discovery of “electric wave” and “electric field” to Hertz' “transmitter and transceiver” to the principle of “micro-wave” to television and cellular phones and computers that make the world flat and borderless, including Marx's “surplus value” and “alienation theory” which method of abstraction distinguishes the science of “appearances from their essence” and which Einstein admired in one of his essays are discoveries of philosophical thinking that combines thinking of the nothing and calculative thinking. Thinking of the nothing is expressed in St. John: “… when the spirit of truth comes, it guides us to another truth.”
Both thinking forms — calculative and thinking of the nothing — are important.
In the School of Public Affairs and Governance (SPAG), We combine both forms of thinking and develop our own brand of thinking called “strategic thinking” that leads us to our principle of strategic governance that looks at the organization in the context of the infinite macro-environment. Strategic thinking lets our students fix their gaze on the infinite macro-environment seeking for possibilities such as strategic factors that will guide us formulate our vision, mission, goals and strategies at the organizational level. This is also our philosophical guide to our AusAID Project in Masbate. This mode of strategic thinking is well articulated in Singapore's philosophy of governance: “Thinking ahead and thinking across.” SPAG shares this approach to academic, practical governance to human life.