Instructor: M. Sanders
April 07, 2015
In the book, Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder, Sophie Amundson is a young girl who begins receiving letters in the mail from a philosophy instructor. He sends her letters and teaches her about the history of philosophy. Alberto encourages Sophie to think outside the box and teaches her what it takes to become a good philosopher. While all of this is going on, she is receiving other weird mail addressed to a girl named Hilde. The letters were addressed on the day that Sophie would turn 15. Towards the end, Alberto, Sophie’s professor teaches Sophie that they are in the mind of Albert, Hilde’s father, all along. They have to complete their philosophy course before they can leave the mind of Albert. They finally escape his mind and becoming spiritual beings. They cannot interact with the world around them. At the end of the book, Sophie wants to learn how to become visible to and interact with Hilde and Albert.
“The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder,” explains Sophie’s instructor. Alberto’s first letter to Sophie stated, “Who are you.” It got her thinking and wondering about who she really was in life. It was a very creative way to start the course. If I had a letter that simply said, “Who are you” at first I think it’d be easy to answer. I am Brittany Hafford, a college student, a Boys and Girls Club employee, a sister, a daughter, etc. Then he used the scenario about a Martian just popping out of nowhere and then stated, “Have you ever given any thought to the fact that you are a Martian yourself?” Then that made me think of the question in a different way. If I had to answer the question asked, “Who are you?” I would agree with Alberto and say, “an extraordinary being.”
“Do you believe in fate? Is sickness the punishment of the gods?” Are more questions asked by Sophie’s instructor in the book. From my viewpoint, I do believe there is such a thing as fate. I believe everything happens in life for a reason. I’m not sure why I believe this. In my life, I have had things go wrong and thought there would be no light at the end of the tunnel but in the end it all turned out to be alright. “Is sickness the punishment of the gods?” is a hard question to answer. As a Christian, it is especially hard. I don’t believe that it is necessarily a punishment of God. I believe that it is all part of God’s will and just have to trust that. “Where both reason and experience fall short, there occurs a vacuum that can be filled by faith.” I believe that quote explains faith as a whole and why people believe. Also, I think it is done because when people are sick, we are supposed to get together and praise and glorify Him. It is hard to think that He takes lives away just to be praised though.
A fascinating area of philosophy history to me that was mentioned in the book is Thor’s hammer. I didn’t know the meaning behind Thor until I read this book. Now, if someone were to say that Thor’s hammer is what made thunder and lightning, they would be looked at like they were crazy. But back then, it made sense. That just shows as humans we need explanations for everything. Which is why a two year old’s favorite word is “why.” We are beings who wonder and who fill in the gaps of reality with our own explanations. A friend of mine is very skeptical and said that everything we know and believe it now might be proven a myth after we are gone. I thought he was just being too skeptical and pessimistic. After reading that section, it made me wonder if someday what we are learning now will be in mythology…