I’m sure the title of this column caught your eye, and whether or not you agree with the statement, I’m glad you’ve decided to read my thoughts. Pick up a copy of Nietzsche’s The Gay Science or Thus Spake Zarathustra to figure out the significance of it. When one thinks of a philosopher, they usually picture a shoeless man wandering around bothering people with huge questions that neither he nor anyone else can answer, or they think of the annoying kid in class who looks like he hasn’t showered in three days and constantly asks the question “Why?” to literally everything the professor has to say. Though I don’t agree with this person’s lack of deodorant, I do appreciate the fact that someone has the gall to question a professor on the things one teaches.
Yes, it is true. Philosophers tend to specialize in asking why things are the way they are, how one should act, and literally an infinite amount of other questions, but many people believe that philosophy is a thing of the past. I feel that this has occurred because many have been discouraged from pursuing philosophy due to a claim that if one does so, they’ll have to spend the money that they receive from their welfare check wisely. I agree that one should major in something practical that can help them earn a living, but who is to say that philosophy isn’t practical? That’s why I’ve made it my duty to explain why philosophy is still relevant to our daily lives.
Philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia meaning “love of wisdom.” Though there are philosophers that may believe that humans can never attain wisdom or even truth, there are a great deal more who have spent their entire lives pursuing it. Some of the greatest thinkers of all time were considered philosophers, among many other things. Rene’ Descartes, inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system and credited as the “father of analytical geometry,” is one of the most famous and most influential philosophers in history. Sir Isaac Newton, who is credited with founding of the Universal Law of Gravitation, was considered a natural philosopher in his day. Science, mathematics, political theory, and countless other disciplines originated within philosophy.
The study of philosophy can allow one to acquire and hone skills that most employers look for when hiring someone. One of the main skills philosophy demands from a person is the ability to critically think. Every discipline seems to claim that they teach critical thinking, but for philosophy, this is a necessity. The way one makes a claim in philosophy is usually through a logically structured argument. If someone attempts to understand why a philosopher makes a certain claim in an argument, this person must possess the ability to follow the line of thinking to make a judgment about the conclusion of said argument. Philosophers must be able to distinguish between good and bad arguments and be able to point out the place in an argument where the thinking is flawed.
Whether you are an accountant, veterinarian, or a custodian, you will encounter an obstacle at some point in your career. Philosophy allows one to question how to overcome this obstacle through something that almost everyone has: the ability to think. The study of philosophy develops one’s ability to think and write clearly, and believe me, employers tend to hire those who can write well and converse in an effective manner.
But some may say that one’s occupation is not everything; usually people have lives outside of the workplace as well. Philosophy allows individuals to intelligently question the world around them and constantly inquire about the significance of things that most people take for granted. It teaches people to actively take part in their lives and find out why certain things are done. The study of philosophy can aid people in questions like: “Is Fox News really ‘fair and balanced’?” “If God is truly loving and omnipotent then why do bad things happen?” “Do I have a soul?” “What is the proper way to live and act?” These questions are relevant to every human that lives on this earth and should at least inspire some sort of conflict within each individual. Philosophy can give you the method for finding your own answers to these questions supported by logical, intelligent arguments.
Now, you can push this article to the side and claim that I’m a philosophy major, which makes my opinion biased and invalid, or you can take it upon yourself to read some great literature written by intelligent women and men. Pick up a book by Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Plato, Rorty, or even Hildegaard of Bingen, and give philosophy a chance. It could be the most influential decision of your college years. gratias tibi ago et vale!