The moment of reflection is essential and fundamental, even indispensable.
When we are busy with our lives, we are not so reflective. What mainly occupies in our minds could be what we have to do today, tomorrow, or a few weeks, months, years from now on. Or, we recall our past.
We live for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We often hear that living in the past and future is not advisable. Mental issues are often due to our regrets and worries.
Can we rely on the power of now?
In the state of flow, we focus on what we do here and now. Most of our creative acts could be productive at this flow state when we live here and now. In the flow state, we immerse ourselves in various acts from dancing, painting, singing, playing, even appreciating artworks. Also, in it, we pursue diverse knowledge of the world and universe through human, social, and natural sciences. Also, in the flow state, we walk, eat, drink, and chat with friends. Every moment of our living consists of all of them.
The moment of reflection, however, is none of them.
It is neither the regrets about the past nor worries about the future. It is not the activity of now and here, either, though it could be in the state of flow, as far as the nature of flow is concerned.
What is the moment of reflection?
It is our deliberate effort to step back. We could also call it the state of reflexivity. When we are busy with our lives, we tend to miss this moment. Usually, a lot of action items are chasing after us. Our morning routine is to check action items and their status. At the end of the day or week, we examine them – how much we accomplished, etc.
A to-do list is one of the best tools to make ourselves busy and productive. If action items are running after us and sufficiently challenging to simulate our body and mind, even inspire our soul and spirit, we can be healthy in all spectrum of our Being – body, mind, soul, and spirit.
Still, the moment of reflection is none of them. It is more like beyond such busyness. When you step back from your daily activities, what would you do?
Forget about your action items. Or, deliberately observe yourself and the way you have been busy with your activities from outside. You can call it the moment of doing nothing.
You are no longer a character of the novel or drama called your life. At the moment of doing nothing, that is the moment of reflection and reflexivity; you are outside of this novel. Perhaps, you could meet up with the author of this novel. Who is the author? Is that you? Or, someone, something else?
In this domain, we are outside of all these action items. Suddenly, we are in the realm of timeless and spaceless. We would encounter the following questions.
- What is life?
- What is the world we exist?
- What is the universe beyond our comprehension?
- Why am I asking these questions?
- Who am I who is asking these questions?
- What is the act of questioning?
Doing nothing in reflection and reflexivity, we inevitably face these fundamental questions. Beyond everyday routines, at the realm of transcendence, whether we like or not, we would act as a philosopher.
Aristotle called this domain of knowledge metaphysics. “Meta” means “beyond” or “after” in Greek. Beyond physics, there is the essential realm where we seem nobody in doing nothing but asking questions reflexively outside of the book of our life.
While Aristotle used this meta-perspective only for physics, in reality, we can apply it for every area of knowledge. In this case, we don’t use the term “meta,” but use “philosophy” in a broader sense. Thus, we call it a philosophical attitude, which implies such a meta-perspective.
In the field of academe, however, it seems philosophy is not recognizable as the real meaning of this philosophical attitude. A lot of researchers tend to focus on the study of past philosophers and their thoughts. Otherwise, they speculate scientific methodologies unnecessarily for unsuitable fields. Hence, metaphysics has confined itself to a small area of cognitive inquiries only, if not the outdated speculation. That’s not necessarily bad, but should not be identified as the field of philosophy proper.
On the other hand, there is also the emerging movement of the real philosophical attitude restoring the said meta-perspectives.
Put it bluntly, when we use the term “philosophy of x,” that is the restoration of the real meta-perspectives and possible philosophical attitudes. Ironically, these look like a new field of attempt.
- Philosophy of science
- Philosophy of physics
- Philosophy of cosmology
- Philosophy of religion
- Philosophy of art
- Philosophy of x
Even there is such a filed as the philosophy of philosophy.
In a sense, a meta-perspective is endlessly reflexive. Once we see something as the object of our philosophical inquiry, our philosophical inquiry itself could potentially be the object of our philosophical inquiry. As such, the philosophy of philosophy is a sort of meta, metaphysics. There could be even what is called meta, meta, metaphysics.
Why is it so? After all, our intellectual inquiry in itself has the nature of becoming the object of our inquiry. Just like searching God, our philosophical attitude looks like Zeno’s paradox, as if we are infinitely approaching within the seemingly finite goal.
Thus, we go back to Aristotle’s first word in his work, Metaphysics. It is our “desire” to know beyond senses, even beyond all efforts of knowing. We are in the destiny to seek knowledge, even with our intrinsic limitations, partiality, and impossibility.
ALL men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things.Metaphysics by Aristotle
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