How I Discovered Philosophy


    My discovery of philosophy was not a direct and formal encounter but rather a gradual intellectual journey shaped by my innate curiosity about profound questions, exposure to diverse influences, and a deep sense of moral concern. Philosophy, with its capacity to engage with complex ideas and its interdisciplinary nature, eventually became the lens through which I explored these questions more deeply. It allowed me to critically examine the concept of evil, which had been a central theme in my inquiries, and to appreciate the value of philosophy as a tool for engaging with myself and the world.

    Long before I formally encountered the realm of philosophy, I was grappling with profound questions about the nature of existence, suffering, and morality. These inquiries had been an intrinsic part of my intuitive concerns, particularly centred around the perplexing issue of why suffering exists, especially when it appears unjust and preventable. Growing up in a home filled with books and surrounded by oral storytelling, I was fortunate to be immersed in a rich intellectual environment.

    During my teenage years, I was directly confronted with events and atrocities widely regarded as evil. My parents took my brother and me to significant historical sites, such as the concentration camp in Dachau and a plantation in the Southern USA. We also visited museums with exhibitions addressing these atrocities. Additionally, I vividly remember the day when the world watched in horror as the 9/11 attacks unfolded. We later visited the memorial in New York City. These experiences heightened my awareness of human suffering and tragedy, but they also left me deeply perplexed. These events appeared fundamentally different from other forms of injustice and suffering I had encountered. They defied my understanding of humanity and the world, and I couldn't find a satisfactory explanation for them. I began to use the term "evil" to describe what I felt, even though I couldn't precisely define why.

    My upbringing was deeply influenced by Christian values, and I received an education in the teachings of the New Testament. Importantly, I was encouraged to explore different interpretations and perspectives within Christianity. This exposure allowed me to examine various viewpoints on suffering, sin, and redemption. In my quest to understand why humans inflict suffering upon each other, I turned to theology, hoping to find clarity. However, theology, too, fell short of providing definitive answers to my inquiries.

    To delve into these existential concerns, my initial refuge was literature. Literature, with its narratives and deep explorations of human experiences, provided me with a means to engage with these questions. However, while literature offered a doorway into these issues, it did not yield clear-cut answers. Instead, it ignited even more questions and a profound curiosity about the human condition.

    During my time as an undergraduate studying English and German literature and languages, I initially turned to philosophy with the expectation of finding clear, definitive answers. I was seeking a guiding light to make sense of the complexities of the world and my own place within it. However, what I discovered was that philosophy, rather than providing neat and conclusive answers, was meant to help me navigate the inherent unintelligibility of the world and my evolving sense of self. It was a discipline designed not to narrow down the vast expanse of human experience but to provide a method to explore it more deeply and meaningfully.

    This realisation marked a pivotal moment in my intellectual journey. Philosophy, I discovered, was not about limiting the scope of inquiry but expanding it. It was not about rigidly defining the boundaries of knowledge but providing a pathway to explore the uncharted territories of existence. In essence, philosophy offered me a way to engage with the profound complexities of the world and my own inner thoughts and convictions.