Coming into this course, I didn’t really know what to expect. When we were asked the question, “what is philosophy?”, I thought of a bunch of people (traditionally old white guys with white beards, preferably stroking those white beards) sitting around asking, ‘what is the meaning of life?’ and ‘who am I?’ and ‘why are we here?’, etc. A bunch of questions that we’ve been asking for thousands of years at least, and yet… there is no answer.
Philosophy seemed pointless, non-applicable, and quite frankly a waste of time. But I still liked the idea of it.
Throughout the year, we have learned about different topics of study in philosophy:
Logic – here we learned to form a logical argument. This is quite applicable as it can be used to prove your point, disprove someone else’s point, and it can be used in any argument you may have.
Metaphysics – This is the more stereotypical philosophy like the questions I was talking about earlier. Despite this, I think that this is important because I have noticed that in almost every unit of study and issue we looked at, it all depends on what your answer is to the question, “what is the meaning of life?”. To answer tough questions or take a stand on an issue, you need to establish your purpose in life, which is why I wrote my post about the meaning of life.
Epistemology – Here we learned about knowledge and knowing and learning. This unit is also very applicable and helpful, because the more we know about what and how we know, the better we can know how to know and learn more. (just read it again if you didn’t get that)
Aesthetics – In aesthetics, we learned about beauty and how and why something is perceived as beautiful. This section, I’ll admit is not quite as applicable or ‘important’ as the others, but still interesting and maybe helpful.
Ethics & Social and Political Philosophy – Here we studied different theories about right and wrong and justice. This sections is extremely applicable because it helps us to be better people, and better as a society. It is also about deciding how to run our society in a way that is fair and just.
I understand know that philosophy encompasses so much more than I originally thought. I was looking through this little lens and I was not seeing the whole picture, only this very small (somewhat incorrect) part of it. I now know that philosophers actually do come up with solutions, that are often very useful in society.
Imagine what the world would be like if everyone thought about how they would like people to be treated from behind the veil of ignorance, and then treated other people accordingly. Or try to imagine if everyone thought about whether they would be okay with the action they are about to take becoming a universal law (so it could be done to them often) before they did the action or said the words. The world would be a much better place to live if these things happened. So that is a main part of the importance of philosophy, it makes us better and it makes the world better. Plus, it expands our understanding and helps us grow as humans.
Philosophy also deals directly with issues that arise in the world and aim to to answer with logic and reason.
I just feel like my knowledge and understanding of philosophy has expanded tremendously, and with it my knowledge and understanding of myself, people, and the world.