Can we start by stating that a philosopher might naturally want to investigate the rationale behind why anyone must study philosophy in the first instance? That is one of the beauties of Philosophy. In the banalest of terms, Philosophy, according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, is the pursuit of wisdom. It is a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative (i.e., marked by questioning curiosity) rather than observational means. Philosophy is the freedom that everyone must take a more in-depth look into critical situations. To ask questions and seek a more profound meaning as to why human beings behave in a particular way. When things happen, philosophy emphasizes that there should be a reason or logic behind such actions. This and more are some of the contributors to the relevance of philosophy as a concept.
“Philosophy is the endeavor to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted.” – Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, 1.1.1, 1929
5 Reasons Why Philosophy is Relevant
First, it increases Knowledge. Knowledge is born out of a curiosity to learn new things. Philosophy provides just that, mainly as it is referred to as the “love of wisdom.” Philosophy aids the ability to firmly grasp and follow an argument to its most logical conclusion. We are also able to apply this logic in other relevant fields. Many theories propounded by researchers have philosophical frameworks on which they lean. With these philosophies, a better and deeper understanding has been reached in the disciplines of Art, Science, and Social Sciences. Since Philosophy presents us with answers to tough life questions, in a bid to seek knowledge and a deeper meaning to life, we actively encounter knowledge. Knowledge is food for the soul.
Second, it helps us make choices out of reason. Philosophy affects the choices we make as individuals. The more we grow and evolve as individuals, the more we are faced with critical life choices. It helps us in becoming more rational thinkers. Philosophy helps us to apply more reason to pressing and seemingly complex life issues. With proper inner arguments and the rumination on facts that highlight the circumstance, we can decide if we are taking the easy way out or overreaching. Situations are seen from a real-life point of view. Many people are known to make decisions out of feelings rather than what exists. However, Philosophy, through proper reasoning, helps to cross this bridge. Find a happy medium by understanding the facts that seed the context—make sense of the circumstance and do the right thing logically.
Third, it inspires creativity. Philosophers are generally people who dare to embrace a different way of thinking. This innovative mindset often leads to critical and creative thinking. Philosophy as a discipline shows us what already exists and offers the chance for students to take a swing at new possibilities and better ways by which things can be done. Philosophy is at the epicenter of creativity and innovation. It is the nucleus of reasoning outside the box. It allows you to transcend into the vortex of the metaphysical, making sense of it all and bringing it back to earth in season with reason. Some of the world’s most celebrated creative thinkers and success achievers are philosophers who sought to change the world by thinking in different dimensions from what was considered the norm. Consider the likes of Sam Walton, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Philip Emeagwali, Richard Branson, etc. These people and more have thought in different dimensions and have impacted our generation. However, this does not take away the place of the works of previous philosophers, as an understanding of these would serve as a springboard, a door opener of some sorts, to more philosophical, more creative and more innovative discoveries.
“The philosophic mind is that which habitually sees the general in the particular, and finds food for the deepest thought in the simplest objects.” – Leslie Stephen (1832-1904). “Wordsworth’s Ethics,” Cornhill Magazine (England), August 1876
Fourth, it helps improve human morality. Ethics, as a branch of philosophy, is a concept that is also based on what should be and what should not (i.e., right and wrong). Therefore, Philosophy helps to take a moral stand in real life situations. It is the bulwark that shores up the walls of our integral value system. People can become better versions of themselves by thinking from a perspective of what is right or wrong. Our thinking controls our actions. We become the better versions of ourselves when we choose to do what is right and eschewing what is morally wrong. When we tow the right path to do what is morally right, we are sowing the seeds of respect. Imagine a society where everyone took decisions and related to each other based on what is only ethical and not out of selfish reasons? How beautiful and psychically balanced would such a society be? This way, everyone knows that robbery, terrorism, greed, racism, and other social vices and violent acts make them deficient in morals and that they’re doing the wrong thing by hurting fellow humans. Such a state would sink the pile foundations of our morality to the depths of reciprocative integrity.
Fifth, the world makes more sense via a philosophical lens. Everyone who tries to understand the world better is a philosopher, in one way or the other. Looking at the world via the philosophical lens prompts us to reason and investigative action. For instance, some people used to think the earth was flat, and there was indeed a profound backing to this notion. However, another person came to challenge this thinking by providing scientific and philosophical evidence as to back the point on why the earth was slightly round or spherical and was revolving. Recall that this thought was accepted because we saw reason in the proposed logic. Hence, philosophical or rational thinking births more rational thought. In many ways as well, people through Philosophy can give better meaning to the things happening around them and ultimately remain fulfilled.
Now that we have seen the reasons why Philosophy is relevant; it is time for us to espouse a new mindset when it comes to the field of Philosophy. The subject is not overly abstruse and should not be such. A lot of times, we approach philosophy with a sense of bewilderment and from a very profound angle. Voltaire once said that “When he who hears doesn’t know what he who speaks means, and when he who speaks doesn’t know what he himself means—that’s philosophy.” To be honest, the postulations of Voltaire is where the minds of many people are at when it comes to Philosophy. We need to preferably approach the subject of Philosophy with a more open mind in other to unearth the elemental gist of reasoning that can spur innovative momentum to the reins of human creativity and genius. Philosophy, if embraced with a more rational mind could birth the solutions of many social ills that plagues the landscapes of the human mind today. We are more of philosophers than we think in our own individual right.
“What is the first business of him who philosophizes? To throw away self-conceit. For it is impossible for a man to begin to learn that which he thinks he knows.” – Epictetus (A.D. 55?-135?). Discourses, 2.17, tr. George Long, 1890?
What a Timothy Leary said in the “Evening Standard” (British Newspaper) on February 8, 1989, is remarkably perceptive and conceptual on how Philosophy should be approached in the information age. He said that “In the information age, you don’t teach philosophy as they did after feudalism. You perform it. If Aristotle were alive today, he’d have a talk show.” He would make an art of Philosophy—who knows, he could even become the proprietary King of all Philosophical media shows. We need to explore Philosophy in our day and age. We need to start dialoguing more about the prevailing philosophies of our time. How has Philosophy helped shape the ideologies of today? What are the current worldviews of our contemporary global culture? What is the impact of Philosophy on the concept of Globalization? What is the role of Philosophy in the global social media culture? What is the purpose of Philosophy in today’s global politics? How would Philosophy answer the question of systemic racism and hate? How will Philosophy help mold our future? The list can go on ad infinitum. The core of the matter is for us to change our mindset towards Philosophy and start a global dialogue.
Finally, it is essential that people approach Philosophy as a fundamental human endeavor rather than something that must be studied in a school, although it is okay to do so too. The greatest philosophers didn’t attend schools to become one. Philosophy is a mentality that must be absorbed. Let us not make light or make fun of Philosophy. Funnily, in the words of Blaise Pascal, “To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher.” In your act of making fun of the subject of Philosophy, you are becoming a philosopher yourself. Let us begin to see Philosophy with a renewed perspective. Once again, recapping the points that highlight why Philosophy is relevant, first, we saw that Philosophy increases knowledge. Second, it helps us make choices out of reason. Third, it inspires creativity. Fourth, it helps improve human morality. Fifth, the world makes more sense via a philosophical lens. Let us therefore expand the scope of this dialogue. Share your thoughts on this article via the comment box. Join the crusade by sharing this article via all social media avenues to expand the philosophic dialogue. More interchange will lead to the unearthing of more philosophical thought for our time that hopefully makes sense, ceteris paribus. The art of philosophizing is the forerunner of generating new philosophies. Let the exchange of ideas begin!