We live in a day and age where everyone constantly focuses on data, numbers, and scientific findings, but what is often over looked is the philosophy of everyday life, the impact it has on decision-making, and the direction of professional careers and its relationship to life. Philosophy and the concepts within philosophy impact many avenues in my life such as my professional career, life, and my education (Warburton, 2004).
First of all, what is philosophy? Philosophy means love of wisdom. Philosophy goes beyond facts, measurements, and scientific findings and it depends on judgment, reflection, and intuition. In the case of the direction of my professional career, philosophy plays an important role in determining what I want to do as a career (Warburton, 2004).
I have done a lot of reflecting lately using judgment of different courses I have taken to help direct me towards a suitable career. Instead of focusing on how much money I would make, how much power I would have, or objective feelings I have towards a career, philosophy has taught me to use intuition as a guide to what is the right decision. Philosophy helps me to view situations in a subjective manner where I don’t have to use data to determine what is right or wrong; I instead use my feelings as a guide to my judgment of that situation. For example, right now I am debating on whether I want to continue on and get my master’s degree or if I will be satisfied with a bachelor’s degree. When I posed this question to my good friend, he asked “why not just get your Ph. D.?” I will use my philosophy and reflect on these important decisions by using judgment and discernment (Brinkmann, 2010).
What does philosophy mean to my life as a whole? Philosophy allows me to look past all of the facts and data and lets me focus on what I feel. As a human being, there is more to life than scientific measurements. How can science describe faith, spirit, or soul? Faith is the belief in the unproven with complete trust. Philosophy allows me to have faith in things that are otherwise unproven. I am a very spiritual person and try to find the connection between mind, body, and soul, but without philosophy this couldn’t be possible because everything else would be based on data or facts. Philosophy is important to my life because it allows me to have subjective thoughts and feelings as well as the ability to seek connection between mind, body, and spirit and feel the holism that relates.
As a physical educator, it’s important to be able to understand and know how to pursue philosophical answers. It would be easy for me as a physical education teacher to create lessons in which students have the most success in terms of results e.g. calories burned, VO2 max increase, or how long a student stayed in their target hear rate, however, these results or data do not show the whole picture which is an argument against linear causation. Linear causation suggests that human behavior has multiple aspects that impact anything and everything we do. What this data wouldn’t represent would be the various individual influences that each student has such as family history, gender, age, aspiration, genetic makeup, or their past experiences. Students may have great results because of these lessons, but the various parameters each student has will influence whether or not they will find value in these lessons and continue them throughout life. As a physical education teacher, I will constantly ask myself to take all of these parameters into account when teacher so I can avoid linear causation. To answer philosophical questions regarding linear causation, single direction causation, missing information, reductionism, and common sense I will refer to the different types of philosophical reasoning such as inductive reasoning which uses concrete examples to create abstract understanding, deductive reasoning which uses several broad premises to create a few concrete conclusions, and/or intuitive reasoning which the ability to view something direct and be able to describe it faithfully.
In life I would pursue philosophical answers very much the same way. For example, when faced with a problem, it wouldn’t be enough to form a conclusion based solely from personal opinion. Instead, I would need to develop a thesis and focus on gathering information so that I could clarify the problem. It is only then that I will be able to use inductive or deductive reasoning to make a sound decision. I will try to avoid arguments such as the missing information argument which generally suggests that someone is either uninformed or misinformed about a certain subject. Before making decisions I will make sure that I am well informed on the subject and have viewed both sides of the arguments with an open mind so I don’t make a bias decision.
When reflecting on metaphysics, otherwise known as the nature of things, I focus on reality and the question of what is it, why is it, and how can we understand it. In life, as I come across anything I am unfamiliar with, such as a different religion than my own, I ask myself these questions. It not enough to merely dismiss what is unknown without first trying to understand it. Philosophy has reinforced the importance of taking on tasks with an open mind and trying to understand the differing concepts by asking critical questions. In life I will use this philosophy when I am greeted with unfamiliar forms of thinking or new ideas.
When it comes to my professional career as a physical education teacher and metaphysics I think of life-long learning and how important it is. As I grow as a professional, there will be new methods of doing things and new information that is beneficial to all physical education teachers. It is important for me to desire to gain this knowledge so I can be the best educator I can be. It is almost certain that after I graduate college and become a professional that new information or findings about being physically active will be discovered. As a teacher I need to ask those three crucial questions the define metaphysics and the nature of things; what is it, why is it, and how can I understand it. In the end it will be my attitude and my desire to soak up this knowledge that will project me to be the educator I know I can be.
The connection between body and mind is important in physical education as well as the overall quality of life. Dualism focuses on primarily two aspects, thought and matter. Matter is easy to describe for it has shape, color, taste, texture, and smell whereas thought has no shape, color, taste etc. It is somewhat difficult to actually describe thought or mind because it has no physical properties. This is important to my career because there are so many benefits that come from physical activity. These benefits can include becoming stronger, losing weight, or gaining muscle mass all of which can be measured or seen. But what about those benefits that cannot be seen such as the release of endorphins? As a physical education teacher, it is important for me to find the linkage between the mind and body so that my students get the best overall experience and benefits. To understand physical education and improve student’s performance, students deal with two different situations, human movement, central nervous system, circulatory system on one hand, and ideas, intuitions, and trepidation on the other. This is where dualism is valued greatly in my field, because where other fields may have just focused on the objective aspects, dualism takes motives, perception, and experience as well as objectivism into account (Quay, 2008).
Dualism also plays an important role in my personal life. Dualism creates a link between what I see or feel objectively and what I think or dream subjectively. It is hard for me to believe that anyone is a pure objectivist whom only believes what he sees, feels, hears, taste, or smells. In my life, mind and body dualism separates ideas and thoughts from objective experiences while creating a connection between mind and body at the same time. I will use this philosophy to describe my feelings and intuitions I have that can’t be explained in objective terms. It is important to note that mind and body affect and interact with one another but mind and body dualism doesn’t describe which or if one is more important than the other. Dualism has also helped to use reflective practice to instill the importance of the mind and the body and their ability to coincide with one another (Kinsella, 2010).
The idea that anything and everything we do has an impact on later decisions is known as holism. As an elementary student, I couldn’t see the connection between different subject areas. For example, I thought music was just singing and mathematics was just numbers, but as I got older and music became more complex, there was the need to be able to count the different notes. In my life holism ties every decision I have ever made with every decision I will ever make. This is important to remember because I may make a decision thinking it will only affect one aspect on my life, when in reality it is interconnected with everything else in my life.
As a physical education teacher holism is even more important. Holism deals with three different levels that all interconnect. The first level deals with the physicality and how it is connected with aspects of everyday life. This is important to me as an educator because it puts emphasis into relating physicality to everyday life. The second level deals with practical usefulness. This is important to me as an educator because students want have practical reasons for doing certain things. By developing practical usefulness, students will find physical activity more meaningful. The third level of holism deals with improving the quality of life as a whole. As an educator this is the most important aspect of holism because in ties everything together and doesn’t put more emphasis on one single aspect.
This philosophy class has really helped me find the linkage or connection between all subject areas I am studying or have studied. I further developed my critical thinking skills through the different approaches in philosophy (common-sense argument, missing information argument, the argument against reductionism, linear causation, and single causation). I learned the importance of lifelong learning and the impact that being surrounded by great minds can have on success in life. Having a positive attitude can have a big influence on whether I succeed or fail in anything I may do in life. Everything we have talked about can be used in some way or another in our lives. It doesn’t matter if we are physical education majors, exercise science majors, physical therapy majors, art majors, or history majors the information presented to us can be used in any life situation that we may stumble upon. I will leave you with one final quote that influences my life everyday and drives me to always want to be better. “There is nothing noble in being superior to fellow mankind. The true nobility is being superior to your previous self (Chin, 2010).