The third Thursday in November has been designated as World Philosophy Day. The day honors philosophical reflection and promotes the opening up of free spaces for philosophical debate on the challenges confronting our society. Philosophy provides the conceptual bases of principles and values on which world peace depends: democracy, human rights, justice, and equality. This day is an occasion to ask ourselves questions that are often forgotten: “What do we neglect to think about?” “Which intolerable realities do we get used to?”
Naturalistic Paganism is rooted in humanism and philosophical naturalism, so philosophy plays an important role in the heritage of Naturalistic Paganism. Some Naturalistic Pagans look to ancient (pagan) philosophies like Stoicism for inspiration today. B.T. Newberg has written about the importance of ancient philosophy for our lives today:
All the ancient philosophers, from Socrates to the Buddha, investigated their world not just for the sake of learning, but in order to discover how to live a flourishing life.
For example, when Socrates asked his fellow Athenians about piety or virtue, it wasn’t just for love of conversation – he wanted to expose the confusion fouling up the unexamined life. When Hypatia of Alexandria explored mathematics and astronomy, it wasn’t just for the sake of learning – she wanted to know how she fit into the cosmos. And when Siddartha Gautama investigated the nature of desire and aversion, it was not out of pure interest in psychology – he wanted to know how to eradicate suffering. All their explorations led eventually back to one key question: How should we live?
Today, we know much more about nature than the ancient philosophers ever did. Yet, we seem to know far less about how to live. Can ancient philosophy teach us how to find science spiritually-relevant again?