Life Philosophy: Step 3 | Connect the Question With the Discipline

This is the Third Step in the series, "How to Rethink Your Entire Life: Foundations of a Life Philosophy"

3. Connect the Questions With the Discipline

In Step 1, we brought up some of the Big Questions of life.

In Step 2, we brought up the main categories of philosophy.

Now, let’s mix them.

Every Big Question aligns with one or more area of philosophy. And every area of philosophy plays some role in a Big Question.

This can help us wrap our hands around these questions that can otherwise be pretty slippery.

The Big Questions from Step 1:

What's it all about?
Who am I?
Why am I here?
Where did I come from?
Where am I going?
How should I live?
What's the point?
How do I know?
What the heck is going on?

The categories of philosophy:


As you might notice, some of these line up almost directly:

Who am I? > psychology
How do I know? > epistemology
Why am I here? > teleology
What's the point? > teleology
How should I live? > ethics

Some Big Questions are combinations of two or more categories of philosophy.

What am I? > psychology + metaphysics
Where did I come from? > psychology + metaphysics
Where am I going? > psychology + metaphysics + teleology
What's it all about? What the heck is going on? metaphysics (what is?) + psychology (what am I?) + ethics (what should I do?) + teleology (why do it?)

As you can see from the above, some of these answers depend on one another.

To elaborate a little:

Who am I? > psychology

So, the “who am I?” question often refers to, well, “me.” It’s often meant as the personal, subjective, individual sense that describes a single, unique personality. This is usually addressed by psychology, or the study of human nature.

But that depends on another question: “what am I?” Meaning, we could ask “Why is Fido the way he is?” and answer with some personal stories about Fido: “He likes chasing squirrels and hates lightening, probably because he got stepped on once during a thunderstorm.”

But we could also say, “Well, Fido is a dog. Fido does what he does because that’s just what dogs do.”

“What he is” brings us to metaphysics.

“Who am I?” and “What am I?” then, are questions for both psychology and metaphysics.

What am I? > psychology and metaphysics

So, what’s the point?

This step “merges worlds.”

We all ask The Big Questions on some level, but few of us dive into books about metaphysics or epistemology, if we can avoid it.

But when these two worlds merge, philosophy can supply some useful tools that can help us clarify, test, repair, and strengthen our answers to The Big Questions.

These areas are interconnected.

Seeing and understanding these interconnections can be incredibly helpful when it comes to making sense out of life.

Looking at some of these interconnections will bring us to Step 4.

> Next: Step 4: See the Interconnections

< Previous: Step 2: Add a Dash of Traditional Philosophy

< Main Index: How to Rethink Your Entire Life

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