How to be Pretty Good… at Philosophising

This one isn’t all that difficult, but it certainly is one of my favourites. It’s actually quite simple, but we’ll get to that. What is philosophy? It means to go a little deeper and want a little more. 

Maybe you have that friend with the great advice. The wordy friend who always has something interesting to say about anything. Maybe you dislike said person and wish she/he would keep their wordy mouth shut (and maybe this post isn’t for you) but maybe you wish that you too could pull out something that packs a bit more of a punch every now and then. I’d love to suggest it’s as easy as a little drinking and a little late night time spent with your typewriter, but often that is not the case. Often something a little deeper is needed to trigger that little philosophizing part of you – and believe me, from the least to most complex of us; that part exists.  

Here’s my advice that I will give to you: read. Reading is the best trigger, it will get you going. Don’t just read this, or just that read. Expand your mind and take it in. Step outside your reading comfort zone. 

It seems simple; read!

Recommendations? Of course. Anyone who knows me is well aware that the first book I would tell you to go read is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Why? Because: perspective. Really, do go read it. It was recommended to me on a New York night 5 years ago by a delightful Belgian photographer. If that in itself wasn’t leading me down my own philosophizing path, then following through and actually reading Shantaram definitely sealed it. 

The second book, as anyone who may have ever listened to my Dad and me late philosophizing would possibly know, is The Picture of Dorian Gray (note: this book does get a little… interesting). Oscar Wilde is certainly my most favourite philosopher and I highly suggest checking out his work or reading about his life. 

To share with you my most favorite gems from Oscar Wilde, via Dorian Gray. The most delightful part is to remember that these were written in the late 1800’s… though they stand highly appropriate for life today.

“The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it.”

“The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat.”

“I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.”

“Is she pretty?” “She behaves as if she was beautiful.”

“I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones.”

“Philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity. It is their distinguishing characteristic.”

“To get back one’s youth, one has merely to repeat one’s follies.”

“He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.”

“Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

“There are exquisite things in store for you. This is merely the beginning.”

“There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”

“… He says things that annoy me. He gives me good advice.” Lord Henry smiled. “People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. It is what I call the depth of generosity.”

“I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never interfere with what charming people do. If a personality fascinates me, whatever mode of expression that personality selects is absolutely delightful to me.”

“Of course it is sudden; all really delightful things are.”

“I have a theory that it is always the women who propose to us, and not we who propose to the women. Except, of course, in middle-class life. But then the middle classes are not modern”

“… Who were extremely old-fashioned people and did not realise that we live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities…”

“There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution”

“One should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.”

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