Acquire Your Roots
Human beings all have belief systems. They all have their own beliefs regarding religion, science, philosophy, politics, morality, romantic relationships, and so on. The beliefs humans have run their lives. They proclaim to know the truth everyday. They talk about it, argue about, and make decisions based on it.
One thing human beings tend not to do, is thoughtfully build a foundation to tie all of their beliefs together. If you take someones complete set of beliefs, you'll likely find that they cannot be traced back to a well articulated core. That is to say, they fall short of having a proper root belief system. For instance, human beings have many beliefs concerning morals, but few are familiar with the fundamental roots of choice and identity, such as continuation of self, determinism, and indeterminism.
To acquire your roots, to be a human that has roots, you have to first identity topics that are root topics. If you look into philosophy, you'll find that it has been divided into different roots subjects. Although not everyone divides it up the same way. This is a good place to start. You cannot acquire you roots without first understanding what roots are.
- Root Questions
- What are the limitations of an observer concerning truth?
- What are the limitations of language concerning truth?
- Can we ever know what reality is?
- Is faith a legitimate strategy to discovering truth?
- Is morality objective?
- Do we have free-will?
- Do we have moral responsibility?
- Is beauty objective, subjective, or a bit of both?
- Do people and things have intrinsic value?
- What is the meaning of meaning?
Consider the questions above. These are the type of fundamental questions you want to be able to answer. Even if the answer is "I do not know", you want to be able to state why you do not know. If you have a religion, ask yourself, what does your religion say about these questions. When looking into these questions, you may be surprised by some of the answers. Some people that believe in God also believe morality is objective because morality is whatever God says. Other would say it's still not objective, because it's still an authority mandating them, not something that exists on its own.
This is all about philosophy, at least, as I define it here. I define philosophy as the general pursuit for identifying and understanding foundational knowledge, including the results thereof. This definition works as an umbrella term for seeking to understanding the fundamentals of the world, this includes aspects of both science and religion.
Not all philosophy is necessarily correct or good. Most of what I know about philosophy comes from my understanding of science. Not just the discoveries of science, but the methods of science. Science is often the foundation I work off of when trying to understand the world.
Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.Wikipedia: Philosophy (accessed 2020)
Traditionally, the term "philosophy" referred to any body of knowledge. In this sense, philosophy is closely related to religion, mathematics, natural science, education, and politics. Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy is classified in the 2000s as a book of physics; he used the term "natural philosophy" because it used to encompass disciplines that later became associated with sciences such as astronomy, medicine, and physics.Wikipedia: Philosophy (accessed 2020)
One way philosophy has been divided into sections is natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy.
Natural philosophy has split into the various natural sciences, especially astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and cosmology. Moral philosophy has birthed the social sciences, but still includes value theory (including aesthetics, ethics, political philosophy, etc.). Metaphysical philosophy has birthed formal sciences such as logic, mathematics, and philosophy of science, but still includes epistemology, cosmology, and others.Wikipedia: Philosophy (accessed 2020)
As an intelligent species seeking to comprehend the universe, it makes sense for all of us to have a philosophy to embark on this lifetime journey. Humans often have a religion, why not something closer to the core? Something that religion is a part of. Theism, atheism, science, morality, politics, religion... they are all apart of a bigger picture, which is, your personal philosophy. Your personal philosophy, your roots... are what brings it all together into a larger understanding of the world around you.
To undersand the world you must have a foundation. The whole idea behind fundamental subjects is that every subject is intimately tied to them. The subject of counting cookies and counting sheep are both tied to the subject of math. The subject of responsibility and blame are tied to the subject of identity and choice, wherein the concept of determinism comes up.
What I call a "root belief system" is a particular set of beliefs concerning the fundamentals and how they relate to everything else. That second part of this is very important, you have to be able to relate your root belief system to more specific subject matter. I believe that if everyone took the time to construct and familiarize themselves with their own root belief system and shared their roots with each other, we would live in a much more enlightened and intellectually engaging world.
A root belief system requires these things: identifying topics that are foundational, studying those topics, coming to conclusions about those topics, and understanding the world by applying it to everything around you. You also want to share your root belief system with others to both teach and learn. This helps you familiarize yourself with your roots so you can naturally and effortlessly apply them to more specific subjects.