Philosophy is often associated with pretentious college classes, outdated ancient philosophers, and a not too useful degree. However, the subject has merit outside the theoretical classroom. Learning about big ideas and the human condition helps us improve our lives. Asking ourselves philosophical questions allows us to reflect and think critically, setting us up to like learning a little more. We can carry these skills throughout our lives, helping us become better people.
Why is Philosophy Important Today
While philosophy is sometimes considered an outdated subject, it is important today for the same reason it has always been. Philosophy helps us solve problems. It forces us to reflect, think critically, and seek knowledge. Not only can we develop skills such as critical thinking by studying philosophy, but we can also gain insight into ourselves and the lives we lead. It does this by looking at fundamental questions at the heart of the human condition. Some of these questions include: Why are we here, what is the meaning of life, who are we, can we change our fate, and what is truth?
Everyone Has A Personal Philosophy
Whether we are conscious of it or not, everyone has a personal philosophy. People have ideas about what is right or wrong, what the point of their life is, and how they should spend their time. The actions people take in their lives are around these ideas. Taking time to learn more about philosophy enhances our lives by forcing us to become conscious of our current philosophies. This helps us become more self-aware and think about ideas we might not have otherwise. As a result, we can develop our critical thinking skills and develop better ideas.
Developing Critical Thinking Skills
Discussing big philosophical questions forces us to develop critical thinking skills. We look at the facts, evidence, observations, and arguments available on a topic to develop our opinion. Students who take philosophy classes critically examine their own opinions and the opinions of others. This is a helpful skill beyond the classroom. People learn how to communicate and present their perspectives. This makes people think critically about everyone's opinions, including their own.
Critical thinking also helps us better understand a situation and, as a result, make better decisions. This applies to big and small decisions, such as deciding what to eat and deciding a career.
Understanding Our Morality
Another benefit of learning philosophy is that it helps us understand our views on morals. Morality is an area in philosophy that everyone deals with daily. Every day, we make moral choices. These can be small decisions, such as whether or not to consume meat, or big decisions, such as which politician to support in an election campaign. When we learn about different moral philosophies, we can directly apply what we learn about ethics to our everyday lives.
Philosophers have tackled questions of morality since the beginning of philosophy. Every philosopher has a different take on morality, from ancient Greeks such as Aristotle to Utilitarian philosophers such as John Stuart Mill. It's worth learning about different moral philosophies before deciding which one you like the best. Even reading about moral philosophy you disagree with has merit.
Aristotle, for example, tries to answer the question of "What is the best way for humans to act?" in his book Nicomachean Ethics. In his book, he describes the journey to happiness as coming from virtue. This virtue, he says, is from the day-to-day experiences rather than large actions. Aristotle talks about the importance of learning from mistakes, even embarrassing ones. This idea applies to our own lives.
Understanding Our Own Beliefs
Beyond understanding our own morality, philosophy also helps us understand our other beliefs. It is easy to go through life without questioning our thinking. However, philosophy forces us to question ourselves. Learning about philosophy, you will come across ideas you have always believed that don't make sense anymore. You will have to confront your current personal philosophy and analyze its value.
For example, if you think the meaning of life is to work hard and have a family, philosophy will force you to think about why and to look at other perspectives. There are many answers to the question of the meaning of life. You might learn about the stoics and their view that the meaning of life is to live in accordance with reason and virtue to find fulfillment and peace. Or you might come across Epicureanism, which emphasizes the goal of a content life in the present moment. As you discuss more philosophy and come across other perspectives, your own beliefs might change.
Passion For Learning
Once you start asking philosophical questions and discussing them with others, it's hard not to enjoy the process. At its heart, philosophy is a love of wisdom. While the subject is often criticized for its impracticality, philosophy instills curiosity in people. This fosters a passion for lifelong learning.
In philosophy, people ask questions about the things around them that they don't understand and strive to learn more. This is a valuable lesson. As people ask more questions and discuss more, they reflect more on their lives. This gives us a chance not only to improve our lives but to have better relationships with others. When we use critical thinking in our discussions with others, we can consider perspectives beyond our own. This brings discussion to a goal of gaining more information and understanding each other.
Along with a better understanding of our beliefs, philosophy helps inspire us to lead a better life. After all, who doesn't want to improve their life? From the ancient Greeks to modern thinkers, philosophers have all strove to lead a more fulfilling life through their philosophy. By looking at the ideas of past thinkers, we can gain insights into how to cultivate happiness and potentially make our own lives more fulfilling.
How To Learn About Philosophy
To learn more about philosophy, start by asking questions. Philosophy starts with curiosity and a desire to learn. Wonder about the world around you and your own beliefs. Start a journal about the questions you are having and other thoughts that arise. From there, you can decide how you want to incorporate philosophy into your life. Having philosophy in your life doesn't have to look a certain way. It is more about having a certain attitude and being open to learning. You could sign up for a philosophy class if you are feeling ambitious or look for a philosophy book at your local library. There are also many philosophy articles on World Atlas to explore. Whatever way you decide to incorporate philosophy in your life, remember there is no one size fits all. Philosophy is a love of wisdom, and that should be the inspiration for your journey.