“Philosophy literally means the ‘love of wisdom,’” Professor Naugle’s voice carried over the microphone, “And wisdom has been aptly defined as ‘knowledge applied.’ Hence, philosophy may be more also defined as the love of applied knowledge” (8). At these words, Dallas Baptist University (DBU) faculty and students hummed in agreement. I scribbled my pen across Dr. Naugle’s essay, circling that statement.
The statement reminded me of Socrates’ hierarchy of reason, knowledge, belief, and opinion. A philosopher does not simply hold a vast amount of knowledge, as a mathematician understands 2+2=4, but he or she is also able to apply this knowledge. Thereby, the reason underlying the knowledge determines how a philosopher will use it.
“And the application of knowledge,” Dr. Naugle finished his point, “is exactly the goal of the philosophy program at [DBU]” (8). So, as a student at DBU, I am to both love knowledge and love applying that knowledge.
My experiences at DBU’s Friday Symposiums have aggrandized my intellectual ability and allowed me to encounter subjects I would not have otherwise. Once a DBU professor, who is also a singer-song writer, read to us her dissertation on Bob Dylan. Her argument was that Bob Dylan’s song lyrics marked the end of modernism. Throughout her talk, she played and sang some of Bob Dylan’s songs. This allowed the words and music to come alive and ring inside my head as the paper continued.
Another speaker who influenced me was the poet-laureate of Oklahoma. He attacked sentimentality in writing, expressing that, as poets, we must find the difference between “grandma’s praying hands,” and “my grandma’s praying hands.” The overall theme being that particularity brings universality. Particularities draw in a reader, giving him or her the opportunity to relate to the subject matter.
I could ramble on about other lectures I have had the pleasure of hearing, like the psychologist from New Orleans and the professor from Duke-Divinity school. Yet, my favorite part of the Symposiums is the question answer time.
“How does one retain a fixed theory while also remaining adaptable, as the liberal arts promote adaptability,” I asked Dr. Naugle after his presentation. He looked away for a moment, scowled in his typical fashion as he thought it through, and answered, “A college student is supposed to be open to changes to a specific theory… Some students are intransigent, which I would argue is not the correct attitude.”
This answer has sent me into a whirlwind of pondering. Are there theories I uphold to that might need changing? Am I unwilling to consider other viewpoints or, at the least, understand them?
As aspiring philosophers, we should love knowledge and truth. We then must act or apply that knowledge and truth in our daily lives. The symposiums are great avenues to grow in spirit and truth, which matures one’s mind and implants a sense of justice that permeates all experiences of life.
This post was written by former Writing Center staff member Ben Jones.
Naugle, David. “Philosophy: A Christian Vision.” DBU Friday Symposium Sept 2015: 1-13. Print.