I started back at university last week. I am sure my enthusiasm will wane in time with approaching deadlines, but for now, I am ‘Happy as Larry’ (those of you who ever watched the Scheme will now chuckle) to be reading Big Books about Big Things. I want to talk about my thesis and the reason behind researching a particular theme.
What is the meaning of life to Pihla? To love and be loved. To show kindness to others, make them feel like the best thing in the world, to create happiness and share it. Yeah, I reckon that sums it up. Of course, I deviate from the bigger theme on a daily basis and also enjoy to Netflix and chill, indulge in fun, make art, listen to music and care for my health and moderate wealth. And sometimes I am in doom and inside the doom anxiety bubble I cannot always be nice even if I want.
But why study? To Pihla, studying is instrumental to the betterment of Pihla’s understanding on how to be good and thus valuable. I also need a Finnish degree for practical employment -related reasons but this feels too mundane and sucky a reason, so I am gonna stick with option nr 1. I am trying to hone my thoughts to be a better person and encourage others to continue being good too. With this in mind I have been thinking about the mountain I am to climb, that is, my thesis, and its topic.
In the summer, I began to wonder the following at work: why do people lack empathy and appear unwilling to try to understand the experience of someone quite unlike them? It lead me to further formulate thoughts and questions: Why do people appear as disinterested in creating well-being for people outwith their own social circle? Why do they even appear as hostile towards others (strangers or those more distant from them than friends and family)? How can I best try to persuade my fellow people to extend empathic thought towards strangers?
Perhaps by trying to understand the mechanisms of moral behaviour and what makes us choose whether we will be morally sound towards our own only or towards strangers too. From what is my desire to cultivate moral thought and behaviour in myself borne? I conclude: from an experience of vulnerability and the admittal of this: I am, as is everyone, completely vulnerable. I need and desire the sympathy and compassionate support of others. I am not any better than the people I view as un-empathic, as my empathy comes from a recognition of a need – I have needed and may need empathy and compassion too. Maybe some un-empathic -appearing people have not had a true experience of vulnerability, or if they have, maybe they are unwilling to admit to this. I really feel the most magical relationship I can have with anyone involves a complete surrendering and throwing away of one’s weaponry to admit, I am but a weakling and without another, I don’t fare so well. To be accepted by another in this vulnerable moment, a hand extended in support, signalling to be grabbed, pulled back to safety.
A great philosopher is nothing if they are not a good human being. Being good, to me, is best illustrated in action – whatever form this may take. What good is clear thought, reason, without a heart. Means nowt, IMO. I always felt that I need and must study ethics, by far of the most relevance to me. I look forward to researching and one day writing my thesis and learning some tools along the way, I hope, to become better at trying to be good.