As our first assignment, my philosophy professor published a question online in which we could comment on. She asked us “what do you expect out of this class?”
I’m not new to philosophy. I read it as a high schooler (particularly Kant for some reason) and I’ve taken the college courses in it. I feel I’ve had a metaphysical mind since birth; the concepts of reality and our perceptions and the nature of reality are things I get weird looks for when I talk about them. Some people just have a hard time wrapping their head around something that isn’t tangible.
As a child, I lived outside of this physical world and inside of my mental world. I have no problem with fantasy, theorizing, hypotheticals or thought experiments. I don’t take very many things seriously, meaning I don’t believe what I see or what I hear, because my perception of it could always be wrong. Not in a hallucination way, but in a reality way. You know, the color of the desk is only that color because your optical nerves can only receive specific types of light. Were you a Mantis Shrimp, you’d see a whole new world.
Our brains, as complex and as sophisticated as we like to think of them as, couldn’t handle absolute reality. It restricts us from certain perceptions for a reason.
So I thought for a day on what I expected out of this Ethics course. It made me think about what I want and what I expect out of all my classes. It made me think about the reality of education in general.
There are core reasons people take Calculus and Linear Algebra and Differentials: it fits their major. Physics majors, math majors, engineers, computer scientists, some chemistry majors, e.t.c. In my mathematics based classes, I’m surrounded by those people. They’re all going into the “hard” sciences, and when I say I’m a psychology major they give me that look.
Confusion, essentially. Perhaps a little pity.
It’s as if people have forgotten majors are not the only thing you’re allowed to study.
I could have stopped at Trigonometry if I wanted to, and transferred to a school that didn’t care whether or not Calculus existed. I could have stopped at first and second semester calculus because the university I’m transferring to only requires the first semester. But I keep on going. Why? What am I expecting?
There are core reasons people take Physiology and Pharmacology: it’s a requirement if you want to be a certified nurse or social worker or an extra education requirement if you’re a drug counselor in this county apparently. Why am I taking it? What am I expecting? I’m not apart of the HSERV (Human Services) program. It doesn’t even transfer.
Besides the obvious “to get a degree so I’m not a lonely, loony bum under the bridge that smells like rotten urine and bad heroin”, what do I expect to get out of college?
If there’s one thing that has bothered me before I even understood the power of knowledge was the fact that people abuse it.
I’m not talking about all those C.E.O’s I spit shit about all the time. They’re not abusing their knowledge of the system, they’re taking advantage of it to serve themselves.
I’m talking about the people who are capable of learning and understanding and acting who essentially do not. Some of those people are the reason those self-serving leaders get away with what they do. To hold your knowledge and understanding from the world is, in my eyes, an abuse of the aforementioned.
To never learn is an abuse of the self, in my eyes.
To take everything in life absolutely serious is an abuse of life, in my eyes. People who are offended by cursing and dark humor baffle me.
So what do I expect out of college besides crippling debt? Whatever I want. I take the classes that are relevant to my career interests and my personal interests. And money will never come in between me and my interests.
I’m a firm believer that if you are going into a position which serves the people, the last thing you need to do is avoid classes and life experiences which teach you more about people.
So why am I taking so much math? I’m not going to be asking future clients to integrate equations with me, but the action of math on the brain has profound benefits. Depending on its applications, sometimes it’s black and white, sometimes you need a little creativity, sometimes you have to expand your mind and think of something you wouldn’t normally associate with the problem. That’s a good skill to master in a field where the majority of information is coming from ambiguous and sometimes warped sources.
People will come with different problems and different mindsets. Prescribing Ritalin to every single patient who might experience ADHD symptoms is like trying to make a U-Substitution to solve every integration problem imaginable. You can try, I guess, but you’ll be making life pretty difficult for yourself.
You’ll be scratching the surface, but you won’t ever hit the root. Sure, you could use a U-Sub, but you also might need to integrate by parts. There are a million things you might have to do and if you don’t consider them, you’re short changing the math and your brain. You’re also risking an F in the class.
And an F in life.
You short change math, math will short change you. It’s a ruthless bastard. Just when you think you’ll never have to do it again in your life, you have to do it and then some. And then suddenly you’re enjoying it and you find yourself questioning the meaning of life.
There’s a reason thought-experiments are fairly common with great scientists and mathematicians. Because the result makes a hypothetical into a reality. I think that’s what’s most beautiful about thoughts and knowledge and understanding.
Tangible items have bounds and limits. That’s why I don’t focus too much on what I perceive, I don’t like focusing on the physical world and instead have always, since I was a child, focused on what I thought and felt and understood. No one can bind those.
I enjoy knowledge for the sake of its application. I don’t care about being a know it all (that’s impossible anyway), even though I feel like I should be given the reputation I’ve created for myself with classmates and professors.
It’s healthy to think about something other than yourself every once in a while. It’s healthy to ask yourself a random question and spend some time hunting for the answer. It’s healthy to realize you’re not just an organism living under a roof with a job and a family, you’re also a living organism with the ability to wonder about your own existence, about space, about “time”, about the universe, about what’s happening out there in the vast blackness that you’ll never get to see in your physical lifetime.
I don’t know why people get freaked out thinking about it. I honestly enjoy the disconnect.
I don’t know what the point of this post was. I know I haven’t posted in a day or two and it’s been eating away at my soul. So I decided to return for a quick night, even though my hands are stumbling across the keyboard with exhaustion.
That’s right, exhaustion. Before midnight.
I might actually sleep tonight.