Earlier today, I was sitting in my office, leaning back on my chair, staring at a certain point on my wall and thinking about a strategy to initiate a process. This was an ordinary moment for me to stay focused to visualize a solution. Except, this time I caught myself actually staring at my diploma on my wall stating “Doctor of Philosophy”. I could not help thinking about the meaning and the corresponding responsibilities this privilege brings with the title.
So, what does the doctor of philosophy really mean? I am certain that there are multiple definitions. From a practical standpoint, it was a terminal degree, the last stage one could reach through formal education. Perhaps, it is a license to conduct research or acknowledgment of my knowledge. Here is my finding after a quick search on Internet. Doctor comes from Latin the word “docere”. Docere means “teacher”. So, the word, doctor, is a synonym of teacher. Philosophy comes from Greek the combination of philo and sophia: love of wisdom. So, this means I am the teacher who teaches the love of wisdom. I think this is a step up from the word philosopher which means wisdom lover.
To become a doctor of philosophy, three aptitudes are required. One needs to have wisdom, needs to possess the love of wisdom, and ability to teach others the love of wisdom. Then, the question is “What is wisdom?”. According to one definitions I like, wisdom has two components, knowledge and action. A wise person has knowledge of truth and act or judge based on that knowledge.
So far, my intellectual exercise works like “Russian dolls”. The biggest doll was “Doctor of Philosophy”. The smaller doll coming out of it was wisdom. Knowledge came out of wisdom. Knowledge is a simple yet very complex concept. Between the positivist and post-positivist schools of thought an argument could be made if knowledge of truth is relative or absolute. This argument deserves more than a blog post and many thinkers spent a lifetime on this argument.
My experience with knowledge is that the more I improve my knowledge the less confident I become about my existing knowledge. This brings more hunger for knowledge and it pushes me to learn more. I guess this is my love of wisdom: constant search for truth and passion to act based on the knowledge of truth.
Now, the big question is how I can teach others the love of wisdom. Being skeptical, seeking for knowledge, and acting based on knowledge, not feelings, implicit biases, dogma, superstition or indoctrination. Again, it is not teaching how to gain wisdom, it is teaching to love wisdom. This means not just to love your own wisdom but love others’ wisdom as well. Although their knowledge may challenge your own knowledge and may conflict with your way of judgment. This love also requires accepting self vulnerability and openness to change.
I think my intellectual exercise allowed me to question the meaning beyond the title. Eventually, I have more questions than answers as I expected. I think it is important to remember our job as doctors of philosophy is to teach. Not to teach a concept or facts, but to teach to love of wisdom. Teach to love our journey and others’ to seek for wisdom.