Like those with curiosity from the past, my primary reason cannot be nobler. It has always been my lifelong goal to understand and help model the nature of reality and uncover its mysterious veil through pursuing interdisciplinarity. Although all disciplines are more-or-less guiding, I believe philosophy is one starting point of all the ambitious routes struck out by mankind towards wisdom.
Contrasting other disciplines with philosophy can build a case for my current philosophical studies. I have not completely resorted to other humanities subjects, because to me, history, with a focus on the causation of events, is deemed as important as but not more urgent than philosophy, which emphasizes a thematic comprehension of the interrelation of the major transformative ideas. Theology and religious studies may lead us to truth through expounding faith and revelation, but religious questions may be grounded on and be reductively translated into a more primitive philosophical quest. Anyway, philosophy can still be seen as a foundation for analytically grasping theological concepts. Also, if the arts and the subjects of creativity are to be studied, a foundation on aesthetics is inevitable. Hence, philosophy, instead of other arts subjects, is perhaps a more substantive building block to begin with.
On the other hand, philosophy’s affiliation to other disciplinary categories necessitates a discussion of my choice to prioritize philosophy over them. To my observation, social sciences indeed scrutinizes sociocultural reality through a diversity of methodology employed by the distinctive fields, but the phenomenon of specialization such that an agreed unified framework encompassing the divergent studies of culture and society seems to be currently lacking or immature might impede my interdisciplinary comprehension if it could not guarantee a stable foundation for an undergraduate aiming at liberal-arts generality before specialization. Philosophy can but give an extensive overview of and about social human behaviour, which may comparatively be more preparatory for further investigation.
Besides, it is the task of natural sciences to demystify the physical and biological reality scientifically by observation, experimentation and/or prediction that attracts me. However, to warrant a road to scientific truth without deviance, it is preferable to equip oneself with some philosophical background to fully capture the pre-existing root of science as natural philosophy, better prior to scientific enquiry. Furthermore, arguably the firmest of all, formal sciences offer us formal abstraction of reality by logical and mathematical deduction, yet one prerequisite is one’s ability of symbolic abstraction, a skill which can first be learnt and sharpened via an analytic philosophical training of logical argumentation with philosophical logic. Therefore, after surveying different disciplines before my tertiary education, I believe that since philosophical questions underlie every facet of human knowledge, skill and experience, philosophy should be firstly approached to gain my first, if not my last, set of answers regarding reality.
In terms of broadness and without trading off depth for it, such undergraduate philosophy course acts as my guidance for interdisciplinarity by its examination of the philosophies of various disciplines and its training of transferrable skills of argumentation and critical thinking, hopefully lighting the way to my deeper discovery of reality in the near future.
2. Which areas of philosophy do you find most interesting and why?
Those most interesting me are metaphilosophy and how philosophy as a discipline is related to others; philosophical anthropology focusing on how freedom, mind, language, morality, sociality etc. jointly define humanity; philosophy of religion and philosophy of science, though I want to explore more about philosophy of medicine and philosophy of law. After all, I do love learning and discussing ontology and epistemology in general, mostly in Western tradition. Next time you ask me, I might give you a different set of answer.
3. Which philosopher do you find most interesting and why?
Classical figures are typically interesting, but at least up till this point, none has enlightened me in a way like the American analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga. His proposal of properly basic belief in his reformed epistemology and his evolutionary argument against naturalism sometimes keep me smiling and critically thinking at night. I am still reading some of his work. At times, I find my own thoughts interesting too, because I am always curious about what conclusion I can eventually come up with given my ambitious premises.
4. Which philosophy book or article do you find most interesting and why?
Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga (2000) interests me most currently, since I just realized how essential it is to investigate the epistemology of religious belief in general if I am to further my understanding of philosophy of religion and how I was unaware of such a fruitful bookish treasure when I was studying philosophy of religion last semester.
5. Write a quote from a philosopher or book you find interesting.
“The existence of God is neither precluded nor rendered improbable by the existence of evil. Of course, suffering and misfortune may nonetheless constitute a problem for the theist; but the problem is not that his beliefs are logically or probabilistically incompatible. The theist may find a religious problem in evil; in the presence of his own suffering or that of someone near to him he may find it difficult to maintain what he takes to be the proper attitude towards God. Faced with great personal suffering or misfortune, he may be tempted to rebel against God, to shake his fist in God’s face, or even to give up belief in God altogether. But this is a problem of a different dimension. Such a problem calls, not for philosophical enlightenment, but for pastoral care. The Free Will Defense, however, shows that the existence of God is compatible, both logically and probabilistically, with the existence of evil; thus it solves the main philosophical problem of evil.” ― Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil
Originally published as Interview with Tommy Leung Yiu Man (Philosophy Student) in Issue 6 of The Objector – Lingnan Philosophy Student Periodical on 18 November 2015.