Studying Philosophy: Understanding the love of wisdom theoretically and living it practically

Namita Herzl studies Philosophy. She enthuses about the freedom of curriculum choices, the discussions with professors and her love of wisdom. Where she sees herself professionally, what she wants to give to others and why she prefers studying in Klagenfurt to studying in Vienna, she tells us in this interview.

How did you get the idea to study Philosophy?

I had an excellent ethics class at school. There I was allowed to learn what life is all about for me, namely, to live love and wisdom. Philosophy means exactly that for me: to understand the love of wisdom theoretically and to live it practically.

Is there an anecdote from your studies that you would like to share with us?

In the first seminar I participated in, the professor sat down on the table to discuss the texts with us. As time passed and we immersed ourselves deeper into the subject matter, he finally laid down at the table, and despite constant concentration he looked relaxed and calm. I was fascinated by the lightness of this professor, even though we were discussing such a difficult text.

How can you imagine such discussions?

Good question. In a seminar, for example, we discussed Aristotle’s concept of time. As an introduction, Martin Weiß showed us a short video from Sesame Street: in the video, Cookie Monster and Herry Monster explain the difference between “here and there”. This describes the pleasant atmosphere that is very often created in philosophical seminars quite well.

Which subjects do you particularly like and why?

What interests me most is the philosophy of emotions. This subject can be treated in both the theoretical and the practical philosophy. That we cannot look at ourselves abstracted from the world, but are part of, makes it especially exciting to work in this field. Especially through our emotionality, we can experience in our own nature, what it means to be human. At the same time, I do not believe that we can clearly distinguish theoretical theses from emotions. Because the author’s emotional world is the foundation for their choices regarding the research area, and which assertions and interpretations they are making.

Are there also courses that have bored you?

In my studies I like all subjects and all lectures I have attended. I have often heard from students of other subjects that it is normal that 50% of studying are a pain. I never understood that, because I would never study anything that tortured me. I see a lot of potential and always an opportunity, in each individual course, to strengthen my own critical faculties. On both, the analytical level with Prof. Renz and on the continental level with Prof. Pechriggl.

Has your view of the world changed through your studies?

My view of the world has changed, but even more so, my view of myself did. I have become more reflective, because I questioned, rejected and repositioned my own statements and beliefs dozens of times. Philosophy helps to realize that self-created dogmas set limits and restrict consciousness. While for me it is more about expanding consciousness, that is why I have put aside some opinions I once had.

How do you explain the content of your studies to your family or friends?

Philosophy is about expanding, reflecting and questioning the self-imposed limits of the mind. At the same time, it is absolutely fascinating to take up problems that have existed for centuries and to realise that in the end we cannot answer the questions. What we can do, however, is to create new connections out of the here and now, and thus to shape and symbolize the spirit of the times through our own texts, as well as to raise and deal with critical questions and issues.

Why did you choose Klagenfurt? What do you like about Klagenfurt?

At the University of Klagenfurt, the individual is valued and challenged. We have the freest curriculum I have ever seen at a Philosophy institute, and this promotes individuality. Vienna was very anonymous for me and I was one of many in a large crowd. In Klagenfurt I was seen, was allowed to have long, exciting conversations with the lecturers, and this even led to friendships.

Why should you study here?

In contrast to other universities, here you have a lot of freedom and opportunities to pursue your own philosophical interests. At the beginning of my studies I criticised the fact that there were so few lectures on Intercultural Philosophy. This criticism was immediately taken up, and nowadays, once a semester an intercultural class is offered.

What do you look forward to when you arrive at the university?

To making new experiences in the here and now, which teach me what it means to be a human being.

What would be important advice to share with AAU freshers?

Never forget who you are. Do not let anyone discourage you from going your own way and always stick with your values!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In which field do you want to work?

I see myself working in a philosophical practice, where I can help people to find their way to themselves and to get to know themselves better. At the same time, I see myself as a lecturer at the university too, because my life’s mission is to strengthen love in academic Philosophy and to help students to go their individual path. Furthermore, I see myself as an author, as someone who pushes boundaries and as a guide.

Word Rap

  • My first day at UNI was… eventful.
  • My greatest lecture experience… was touching and inspiring.
  • My university is… defining.
  • My student life does not work without… my own motivation!
  • I am inspired by… the love for wisdom.
  • My studies in 3 words… individuality, reflection, knowledge.