srijeda, 12. lipnja 2013.

Practicing Philosophy on a Bicycle

As promised, today i will write more detailed post on how philocycling, or philosophy on a bicycle, excercise works.

   Today i did a solo philocycling route for about 2 hours. This time i connected it with previous practice of philosophical walks, by Dutch philosopher Peter Harteloh, whom i met last year during a seminar in France. His method connects philosophical concepts with space and place. Before the philosophical walk, each participant is given a piece of paper with a quote by some famous philosopher. Participants should find a philosophical concept related to this quote, walk in silence and during a walk find a place which reminds them most of the chosen concept. Philocycling could be done in same manner, perhaps when done in group, but since i've done it alone this time, i deceided to choose a concept for self analysis before cycling. 

   My main concept was related to work. As i cycle from my starting point to first resting stop, i thought about my next direction in professional life - since i just finished a course on philosophical counselling, i examined my choices, possible solutions for starting own business and where this may lead me in future. After about 15 minutes of cycling, i came to my first stop.

   My first stop was in the fields, next to the road, exactly where i stopped yesterday. Main concept which i related to this place was 'change'. Yesterday i was really sorry i didn't bring my phone so i could take some photos of beautifuly shaped clouds. Today, of course, clouds were completely different. For a moment i thought about Hegel, and his explanation of how we can't speak about beauty when it comes to nature, precisely because it is all time changing. According to Hegel, beauty lies in unchangable things, but when i come to think of it, something can be beautiful even for a moment, whether it's a cloud, a song, or a painting.

   Continuing on my cycling route, work was still my main analysis object. This time i thought about my current work and how it can be really rewarding. Being a teacher is truly hard work, but if one gives himself to others in his work, sincerely and honestly, others recognize it and they give something back. Now comes the question whether it is selfish or not, to expect something in return. More on that after the next stop:

   My second stop was just after a long climb uphill. Here, i thought mostly about a concept of goals. Hills usually have a challenging effect on me, maybe because i live in plain area. Each hill, whether it's lower or higher, represents a challenge for me and i have some kind of urge to climb it, where it's top represents a goal. In life we tend to do the same, we set our goals up high and make an effort to achieve whatever goals might be up there.  

   As i continued my rout, i returned to the concept of selfishness. I have come to conclusion that i am a selfish person when it comes to my professional efforts, but i always make sure that out of my selfish needs comes something useful for others, too. In fact, being selfish isn't something utterly wrong, as some religious teachings told us, but a basic human animal instinct. What makes us a bit different from other animals is the ability to say 'No' when needed, to stop acting when our selfish golas can harm others in any way. Unfortunately, some of us humans aren't always ready to stop themselves when it gets to that point. 

   My third stop was by the river Danube, which at this point represents natural border between Croatia and Serbia. Also, in last few days, Danube is flooding the area, making a lot of damage in Central Europe and soon to come near my village, maybe even setting new record in water level. This reminded me of concept of power, and mostly of the power of nature over men. We may set dams in order to protect our property, but if things get wild, there isn't much we can do about it. I asked myself, how far will people go untill they completely conquer nature, and will we ever be able to.

   On my way home, after a long ride, Danube reminded me of my childhood, because i grew up by this great river. Wanting to connect my previous concept of work and my childhood, i tried to remeber what i wanted to be when i grow up. Most of the children want to be firemen, policemen, doctors or vets, they want to help others in best possible way, but i really couldn't remeber wanting any of that. I remembered that my grandmother wanted me to be a priest or a doctor, in her own words, so that other would respect me; and my father wanted me to be a farmer, like him...then it came to me - at first i wanted to be an astronaut, and then archaeologist. I don't know why i didn't achieve that, but i do know that i didn't stop asking myself the same questions since then, questions maybe nobody knows the answer to. Questioning, i guess, was what i always did, and probably what i will always do.

Zoran Kojcic

utorak, 11. lipnja 2013.

Philocycling - Philosophizing on a bicycle

   Lately, the World economic crisis made us all...well, made most of us think more on how we spend and manage our money or resources. That was one of the main reasons i got involved in DIY hobbies and activities, starting with some failed solar heating adventures, followed by garden decorations and some other useful thingies for my mobile devices. Few days ago i bought a bike, first one after more than 10 years, and now i pretty much enjoy cycling as a useful hobby. 
   At first i liked the bike, but i wasn't satisfied with what was written on it. It looked like this: 

   CyberRock!?!?! Whatever that means! I wanted to change something but i wasn't sure what. After some web search on 'how to decorate your bike' i didn't know what to do, because nothing looked like what i wanted. Then it hit me - i asked myself 'if i were to get a tattoo, what would it be?'. Answer was so simple, and now i got it on my philocycle:

   Gnothi seauton, means 'Know thyself'. An ancient Greek imperative, written above the entrance to Delphi temple in Greece. An imperative every philosopher knows about and should stick to in every situation. On the other side of philocycle, it says:

   Memento mori - Latin imperative, meaning 'remember that you will die', which can be interpreted in many ways, but i like to use it as constant reminder of what we really are.

   Anyway, now that i have a philocycle, i am able to engage into philocycling, a method i am still developing. For start, philocycling could be done while cycling alone, in pair or in group. If alone, you would need to focus on silence, introspection and contemplation (meditation could also be applied here, but i didn't try it). If you would do it in pair or in a small group, your main focus should be on dialogue development and questioning each other.

   Philocycling could be done in whatever time period suits you, whether it is an hour, two hours or more, with approximately equal periods of time dedicated to self and to the environment around you. For instance, you can do 15 minutes of cycling with 5 minutes of rest where cycling period could be used for self analysis, and rest periods for analysis of the environment, or vice versa. Places for rest periods should be chosen considering their geographic uniqueness. Self analysis can be focused on contemplation on questions like: who am i, what is the purpose of my existence, why i do what i do, how can i improve my life, work, relationships, etc. Environment analysis can be focused on thinking about the nature around you, at specific places: the sky (or the universe), cloud chapes, mountains, fields, rivers, lakes or the sea, villages or towns, etc. It would be better if the environment is variegated and interesting. 

   And there you have it. A hobby which is useful both for you body and your mind, keeping both of them occupied at the same time, making them work hard together, for your benefit. Please, if you deceide to try it on your own, or with own variations, let me know. 

   Later on, i will make sure to write a new post with more photos from my philocycling trip, with comments on self and environment analysis related to specific places.

Zoran Kojcic