Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lost in thought...

I am thinking about Filipino philosophy. I can’t help but wonder how we never had philosophers to speak of. Of course, we are always saying that Dr. Rizal is the Filipino Philosopher. Though I agree with this, still Rizal’s philosophy is more or less a western liberation philosophy that is more concerned with the fight for the civil rights of the Filipinos rather than the articulation of Filipino thoughts. But still we cannot deny Rizal his place in Filipino Philosophy.

Why is it that some Filipino philosophers deny the existence of Filipino philosophy/ or philosophers?

Maybe its because they are inclined to think of Filipino philosophy the same way other Philosophies are. Like I have said before, identification and articulation of Filipino philosophy may require abandoning the western approaches to its study. Its study requires identification with the people and their psychology and even their aspirations, language, food, etc.

Of course, to some, my thinking of philosophy may be too simple. It does not have the fancy mind bending technical language of metaphysics. Maybe, that is the problem with professional and academic philosophers when they think about Filipino philosophy in general, we do not have (us Filipinos) even elementary metaphysics in our thoughts. We do not have the subtlety to enquire about the nature of things; we do not explore the essence of beings, the cosmology and the order of nature around us. In short we are free from Greek metaphysics and speculations. Untainted—one good reason to study Filipino Philosophy.

What we have are myths, folklores and superstitions and animalistic belief to explain phenomenon and things around us.

Even our language, the Tagalog based Filipino, does not have the ability to express abstract concepts. Our language is practical and verb oriented. Observe the Tagalog sentence structure where verbs always comes first, compared to English where nouns come first. Verbs, in position, act as the subject in our syntax. Also Filipino does not have the terms for metaphysical explorations. Try as hard as we may, there are western especially Greek concepts that cannot be expressed in Filipino. For example the term “being”, “essence”, though some Filipino terms are suggested to represent the concept, still they lack the subtlety to bring out the ideas and the implications of the term. These are just basic concepts and the more technical it becomes, the more difficult it is to grasp even for learned (speaking of myself, of course) to grasp abstract concepts.

I think one of the reasons why some academic philosophers have abandoned the study of Filipino Philosophy is that they find it too simplistic, even difficult because it requires re-thinking and re-evaluating and even re-designing the approaches to its study. The limitation of the language is just one of the difficulties to overcome.

Another obstacle to the articulation of our philosophy is the way we think. Timbreza has suggested that Filipinos think non-logically, we reason by metaphor, we take things personally rather than objectively, we tend to be particularistic rather than generalistic etc.

Thinking about it, one may reason out that every day we live our lives thinking and moving and acting in a very uniquely Filipino ways. We are immersed in our beliefs; we eat our own food; we have our own ethical system; we have our own ways of looking at things—we are unique. This is what we are. Individuals are shaped by his surroundings, influenced by people event, character molded, the way of thinking structured—all by the environment.

Thinkers are products of their environment. Though there Eureka phenomenon involved, still experiences shaped thinking. The duality of the mind and the body did not came about instantaneously as if it came about from a vacuum, but rather it was a reaction to the absurdities of their times—the truth forced upon to the people by the hierarchy of the church. Hence, how can one be free from truth-experience that has conditioned the mind for generations—assume everything is false, and start from what cannot be denied as the truth? This is what Descartes did, and the rest just followed suit. The church crumbled and humanism began.

What has this to do with Filipino Philo? Students and explorers of Filipino Philosophers are products of their environment. I suppose it is analogous to art. An artist cannot express what he does not feel and think unless he is immersed in his/her environment.

Anyway, I’m getting lost in my own thoughts. Not making any sense at all... Someday, when I am retired from teaching, I will formally study philosophy....

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