Philosophy of Life
Miguel de Unamuno is a philosopher who combines a philosophical approach with psychological passion. But the philosophy of life can analyze this problem also from the opposite perspective. Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902-1980), Polish psychiatrist and philosopher is an example of a scientist who connects a psychiatric approach with philosophical fascination.
According to Dabrowski’s, one’s attention focuses on the hardships of everyday life. Therefore, he/she is too busy to ask existential questions. According to Dabrowski, every comprehensively developing person matures to them, eventually. It is not a simple process. It happens under the influence of external and internal difficulties. They are a kind of existential stimulus.
Role of Difficulties in Philosophy Life
How can we understand external or internal difficulties? The external troubles are all the touching cases in our lives. Examples of external troubles are death or illness of a loved one; difficulties at work; problems in self-realization; housing problems. All these situations lead to the feeling that his world is falling apart. The person can feel missed in own life and well-known reality. It forces one to look at his/her own life and define himself/herself once again.
What does it mean to describe yourself in this case in practice? Sometimes, it could be very difficult and needs time. It could mean finding yourself again in a reality where a loved one is no longer there. It involves a change in relationships, attitudes, and increased responsibility. In case of work, there is finding your way, changing the strategy, or re-test reality.
Internal difficulties referring to the inner world induce changes or block them. It is about feeling associated with certain events of the past that affect the future. Unfortunately, they limit the choices and cut off many important and positive experiences. In another way, difficulties can either protect one from making further mistakes.
The Individual and Social Sphere of Development in Philosophy of Life
According to Dabrowski, a human develops in two aspects of the individual and social sphere. In individual development, authenticity as seeking one’s unique nature has a key meaning. One tries to realize one’s passions and cultivate their own abilities.
In the social sphere, development is dictated by human sensitivity. It cannot be about designated duties or a consequence of a contract. Development in the social sphere requires not only intellectual but also an emotional commitment to relationships. It means that, one realizes himself in his own life not only thanks to wisdom but also through love (Dabrowski, 1979).
Emotions and Existence in Philosophy of Life
Dabrowski described his concept as a philosophy of life. According to the definition from the book Introduction to Mental Hygiene from 1979: The philosophy of life must contain the philosophy of quintessence because without all that is deeply interesting, loved, respected, it would not justify only existence enough for the love of life. It would not make sense for an individual and a group (Dabrowski, 1979, p. 280).
The phrase ‘philosophy of life’ imposes an association with existential thought. Dabrowski refers to the intellectual achievements of existentialism. In his works, there are references to Blaise Pascal, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz Kafka, Miguel de Unamuno, and Karl Jaspers.
Dabrowski does not focus on the phenomenon of human life itself but also asks about its quality. Existence is not only an ontical fact. It is something emotionally neutral in the very fact of human existence. Everyone tries to maintain their lives, save them, and survive danger. Life is often fearful but appears most often automatically.
But, we need positive emotional stimuli in everyday life. Without them, human life is only a monotonous sequence of physical activities. Emotions give spiritual meaning and a sense of life.
Summing up: According to the Philosophy of Life, a developing person asks existential questions while facing life difficulties. They can be external – changes in private or social life or internal – emotional disturbances. Development requires authenticity – the individual sphere and commitment – the social sphere. In this way, philosophy gives a sense of human life as the philosophy of life.
Dabrowski K. (1979). Wprowadzenie do higieny psychicznej [Introduction to Mental Hygiene], Warsaw: WSzP.