Tag: autodidactic

Learning about Sociology

Posted January 1, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Sociology / 0 Comments

sociologyI have spent so much time playing catch up on my book reviewing, I have been neglecting some of my other post types. I created Knowledge Lost as a way to document my interests in learning. While literature is a big part of my life and my journey, I do not want book reviews to be the primary focus of this blog, more a side effect. I have done posts in the past about art, literature, philosophy and psychology but there is a topic I am interested in that has not be discussed on this blog until now; that topic is sociology.

I have been interested in the topic of sociology for a very long time, but I do not think I understand it completely. I know it is the study of social effects of various influences like religion, politics, cultural movements and so on. However this is a very broad and limited definition of this very broad social science. There is a lot of other elements, theories and logistics that play a big part in influencing sociology. I am interested to learn this topic in a lot more detail; I do not think I will focus on it in great detail but a better understanding would be useful.

Some of the people I will have to learn about, include Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. Auguste Comte is considered the “father of sociology” (although some give this title to Emile Durkheim) and often cited as the one who started this field of study. Herbert Spencer did a lot of research in family, education, government, industry, and religion comprise. Karl Marx is known for The Communist Manifesto, but his research focused on social classes. Emile Durkheim thought it was important to study social facts and the patterns of behaviour characteristics. Finally Max Weber believed that sociologists must consider people’s interpretations of events, as well as looking at economy and religious influences.

fathers of sociology

There is so many more people to research, plus looking at theories and other studies. I think one of my first posts in sociology would be a comparison between socialism and communism. I hope some posts into sociology will be a good fit with my blog. Although this is a place to document my autodidactic journey so I do not see why it would not fit. If anyone has some recommended reading on this topic, please let me know. I honestly do not know where to start.


Becoming a Philosopher

Posted August 11, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Philosophy / 2 Comments

Friedrich NietzscheWhile watching videos from the School of Life YouTube channel recently, in particular the video on Friedrich Nietzsche. I found myself feeling so envious towards people like Nietzsche and Alain de Botton (who was a founder of School of Life) because they are so smart, talented and make me feel like I have so much to learn. This is interesting, since Nietzsche believes envy is an important part of life; it is useful for understanding what we want to achieve and what we are working towards. In his 1887 book On the Genealogy of Morality (Zur Genealogie der Moral) Nietzsche theorises that the concepts of morality are controlled by the powerful (in his time, the clergy), therefore the concept of good and evil is subjective. While he never talks directly about envy, Nietzsche has often criticised the church for portraying envy as a sin and something we should feel guilty about. This is not the current teaching of the church regarding the seven deadly sins, these are just gateways we should be wary about because they can lead to sin. However this misconception can lead to an emphasis on envy which is leading people to feel insufficient with themselves, and that tends to leads to guilt rather than driving ambition.

Luckily in my case, my envy towards people like Friedrich Nietzsche is making me feel ambitious. I was thinking about life, and I asked Twitter how to become a philosopher and the first response I got back was “Be a dick to Plato”. This may not sound helpful but it really does cut to the core purpose of philosophy. If you look up philosopher in the dictionary you get something along the lines of “a person who offers views or theories on profound questions in ethics, metaphysics, logic, and other related fields.” Critically questioning ideas and theories, even the ones Plato wrote about, in essence would make you a philosopher.

My wife, in all her wisdom, said without thinking that everyone should be a philosopher. The ideas behind philosophy are to think about life and the world around us and to assess, accept, reject or expand on the ideas that have been presented to us. Granted, I have not worked out a way to make a career out of philosophy but the reason I started this blog was to story my thoughts and ideas in the one location. Literature has been a huge part of my life and has helped me to critically question the ideas I am faced with.

I have no formal background but I do believe academia does not have all the answers when it comes to philosophy. In the past education was the job of the clergy and the church. Universities were originally created during the decline of religion as a place for people to find meaning to life, ask questions, share ideas and be part of a community. However if you look at the state of today’s universities, you may not even find anything close to this idea. Rather, it feels like a place to tell people what they need to do in order to be qualified for the degree they are pursuing.  I have been in many classes where there is no questioning, no sharing of ideas and no community; you are given a print out and you get assessed on how well you align to the ideas found on the page. Can you imagine going to university in the hopes to become a teacher and then being taught how to teach a class with methods that are never recommended for a classroom setting?

While it is true that you’ll learn something by reading a piece of paper and writing about it (that is essentially what I do here), academia does not seem to be promoting a philosophical lifestyle. My autodidactic journey feels like it aligns with what I want to achieve more than academia does. I question what I read but when it comes to writing about it, I am doing so for myself. I am not being assessed on how well I align to the teacher’s ideas. Rather, I write to practise expressing my opinions and document my learning process.

Granted, if you want to make a living in philosophy, then working in academia would be useful but I often question the way academic papers are written. Reading some philosophical ideas that are written in an academic format can be very difficult, it makes me feel stupid and question my own intellect. I know I have a lot to learn but I think academic writing is more designed to sound smart so people will think the author knows what they are talking about. If I was to say “God is a woman” you might agree or reject my statement without any thought. However if I say “God is a woman and I have a hundred page academic paper to back that up”, your reaction might be a little different. You may think I am still wrong but it might take longer to reach that conclusion. If you disagreed with me but still chose to read the hundred pages, things could be different once again; you might question your own beliefs before accepting or rejecting mine. The purpose of a paper like this would be to express opinions and challenge ideas, however I prefer a more casual approach to writing.

I believe we can start a conversation about ideas without the need to alienate people with overly complex academic papers. If people are willing to share and exchange ideas there are people willing to listen and challenge. I call myself a philosopher because I like to question ideas and explore my thoughts via my writing. Also my twitter bio says I am a philosopher so it must be true. I hope to continue to learn and explore ideas, to question and challenge my way of thinking and if needed, I will be a dick to Plato.