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Inspirational Passage of the Day

If you do not know what the self is, but want to discover what the self is you have to discover or encounter the self. This discovery of the self is not an easy one, and will be challenging. The encountering of the self is difficult without an open mind, and practically impossible with a closed one. A reassuring concept though is that by studying philosophy, answering or solving questions already aids a person in discovering the self. The chapter of the first section of out textbook is entitled, Taking Risks/Living Philosophically. In just the title, we can learn that living philosophically is about taking risks, and in the first three chapters of this section: Albert Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus", Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave", and Richard Wright's "The Library Card", we are introduced with three individuals that go through the journey of discovering themselves, and realizing what makes this discovery challenging. In The Allegory of the Cave Plato introduces a character that has lived in a cave, but is introduced to the realities of the world through the aid of a guide (Plato 7). This allegory indeed gives a prime example of how the self may very well be discovered; that is through the aid of an outside source. In life, discovering the self is often going to come with the assistance of someone else (e.g. a college professor, parents, siblings). The discovery of the self admittedly is tough. Plato explains that after taking the first difficult step of attempting to discover the self, one is going to at first not be able to see reality. One's eyes will be blinded, and you may even deny the reality, and give up. But after becoming accustomed to the light one will begin to see the reality of the self and existence. One will see the errors of their previous beliefs, and find joy in the discovery of the new self. With all this joy it's hard to see the challenge, but the challenge has just begun, because discovering the self is an understanding that one cannot get rid of once one has grasped the depth of it. This newfound self will be prevalent in your every day life, and when you go back to the cave of life, people who are still blinded by the darkness and have not seen the light will surround you. The new discovery will leave you with pity for the ones who still live in the darkness of the cave, and "[you] would rather suffer anything than entertain [those] false notions and live in [the] miserable [darkness]" (Plato 8). This pity is difficult; the fact that upon return to your old habitat people will think that you are the uninformed one when you preach about what is true, and that the world they live in is false. This too is difficult, and presents the very difficult truth of why discovering the self is challenging. Another example of someone discovering the self is through Richard Wright's The Library Card. Richard Wright differs from Plato, because Wright is a black man in a white society that deems blacks as lower grade citizens, yet he discovers self without an aid. Wrights self-determination is his way of discovering the self. Wright learns that although he is surrounded by a society that considers him ignorant he discovers he is not. Through his struggle, he realizes that discovering who we are requires us to take a risk that is liberating though painful (Wright 9). This painful aspect is again what makes the discovery of the self-challenging. Wright explains, "But to feel that there were feelings denied me, that the very breath of life itself was beyond my reach, that more than anything else hurt, wounded me. I had a new hunger. In buoying me up, reading also cast me down, made me see what was possible, what I had missed. My tension returned, new, terrible, bitter, surging, almost too great to be contained. I no longer felt that the world about me was hostile, killing; I knew it" (Wright 13). Here we see the pain that Wright has to endure for his discovery of the self. He discovered himself in an era that would not allow him to express his newfound self, ironically imprisoning himself. These two examples are prime examples of how the self is discovered, and the challenges that come along with that discovery. Although discovering the self is challenging, the rewards can be endless.