Why Study Philosophy?

Written By Thomas Perez. December 12, 2010 at 10:07PM. Copyright 2010.

Opening Thought

Some people may wonder whether philosophy is worthy of study. After all isn’t philosophy just a meaningless quibbling over words that doesn’t bring about much practical good? While it is true that much of philosophy can appear meaningless and unpractical, there is still some value in studying philosophy. Why study philosophy? We offer three reasons.

First, philosophy deals with the most important questions and issues of life that everybody faces:

Why am I here?
Does God exist?
Does this world have a purpose?
Is there life after death?
What happens to me after I die?
What is right and wrong?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
What makes a war a “just” war?

If you have ever wondered about the above topics or other issues like these then you have already engaged in philosophy? Although philosophy can get rather technical at times, philosophy tackles “ultimate issues” – the issues that really matter most.

Second, we are all philosophers whether we know it or not so we might as well be good at it. As mentioned in the last point, whenever we deal with the ultimate issues of life, we engage in philosophy. So in some degree, all of us who use our minds are philosophers. Even those who don’t like to study philosophy have reached this conclusion from a philosophical framework.

Aristotle said, “All men by nature desire to know.” If that’s true then all of us our philosophers to some extent.

A third reason for participating in philosophy is because it will sharpen your thinking skills. As you study philosophy you will engage and evaluate what others have said about various topics. You will be able to make evaluations as to whether you agree or disagree with what they are saying. Sometimes you may say, “That makes sense to me.” Or, “That’s a really dumb idea; where in the world did he come up with that?” Sometimes you may say, “I’ll have to think about that.”

Closing Thought

Studying philosophy will sharpen your thinking skills. Plus, you’ll simply learn a lot as you tap into the great minds of history. Like we said before, you may not agree with everything everybody says, but even in act of disagreement you will learn something and become a better thinker. So view the study of philosophy as a way to sharpen your own thinking skills.

All of us engage in philosophy to one degree or another. Some do it more formally by reading books or taking classes in it, but we all philosophize about the things that matter most to us.

It’s also important to remember that philosophy is an activity. And just like any activity like bowling or riding a bike, the best way to become better at it is to engage it and work at it. Seriously grapple with philosophical issues. Read the works of philosophers. As you do, you will become a better philosopher.

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