Dr. Vishnu Burla
I have loved philosophy since I had watched a video of Plato’s famous “Allegory of the Cave” from the greatest work of philosophy, The Republic. One reason this work is known as the greatest philosophical work is because it is the first work to present a complete, rationally derived system of ethics. Plato presents a fully developed Theory of the Forms, an Idealist (or Dualist) metaphysics, by which a rational argument is given for moral realism, i.e., objective moral truths exist. Once that idea is in the mind, listening to life-coaches, so-called wiseman or experts, and preachers is simply not adequate to establish moral truth. Moral knowledge is not taught by others, but learned through self-examination.
I originally pursued a degree in chemistry alone in hopes to best exemplify myself as a strong candidate for dental school; only a few people have a career in philosophy and dentistry is one of the best jobs in the world. I do have the best job in the world, but a job is what is needed to survive; an artistic passion is what is needed to truly live. Going to Michigan State University in 2008 afforded me the opportunity to be taught by some of the most thoughtful and interesting people in their respects philosophical fields. Challenged by experts in metaphysics and epistemology, I studied the philosophical greats and of course my idol, Plato.
Combining my passion and career goals, I worked in public health policy research with a special focus on dentalcare access and race. After 2 years study in philosophy of science, bioethics, and medical ethics, I began to see the casuistry people had introduced into ethics, which is traditionally a rigorous philosophical pursuit. In the search for moral truth (how should one live one’s life), I had to remove my bias toward ethical answers that were based in political agenda, “evidence-based” medicine, and common-sense morality. Philosophy has a way of demolishing what you hold to be true in hopes of fleshing out genuine knowledge. My strongest area of focus in philosophy is meta-ethics with a strong background in Kantian ethics. I continued to do research in public health during dental school at University of Detroit, Mercy, School of Dentistry from 2012 to 2016 but aimed to tackle the issue from a meta-ethical direction, writing in the school’s Student Professionalism and Ethics Association newsletter. My hopes is to promote philosophy in dentistry and generally in hopes to create a paradigm shift in its practice.
I have a start-up dental practice in Farmington, Michigan: Flossophy Dental Boutique. The hope is to have a ever-evolving practice that focuses on measurable improvements in patient oral health and serves as a means of producing meaningful relationships and interactions. Intentionality and respect for human dignity are very important – I am a Kantian after all! I am working on semi-academic introductory guide to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and ethical works. I host and participate with local philosophical and freethinker groups. My work in philosophy is never ending, and the goal is to become a better person along the way, living a life not of purpose but one of following ones duties to self and humanity. Always remember what Plato said, “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.” Solitary examination may be required in our search for how to live one’s life, but man is a social animal and we cannot survive without an intellectually uplifted community. Some choose to sit back down in the cave, some enjoy just the enlightenment. I choose, however, to go back into the cave and break the fettering chains that once held me. How can one know that one is seeing shadows if one is never allowed to turn one’s head?