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Four Reasons Why Philosophy Is As Relevant As Ever

Philosophy is one of the oldest fields of study in the world and is just as relevant today as it was centuries ago. Acknowledged as one of the most important disciplines a student can learn, here’s everything you need to know about what philosophy is and how it can shape your thinking.

Feb 23, 2024
  • Education
Four Reasons Why Philosophy Is As Relevant As Ever

What is philosophy?

Philosophy is the study of existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language. In other words, it’s the academic exploration of life’s big questions. It’s a discipline that can be applied to any field or subject and it helps to develop critical thinking skills. Philosophy is one of the oldest disciplines in the world and its history can be traced back to ancient Greece. The works of Plato and Aristotle, who were some of the earliest philosophers, are still studied and read today. Philosophy has had a significant impact on many areas of life and professions including the arts, science and politics.

1. Philosophy teaches critical thinking

Philosophy teaches critical thinking by encouraging students to question everything they are taught. Students are encouraged to develop their own beliefs and to think for themselves. This is a valuable skill, particularly in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction. Philosophy also teaches students how to argue effectively. This is important, as it allows students to defend their beliefs against opposing arguments and helps them to develop a better understanding of other people's views.

Four Reasons Why Philosophy Is As Relevant As Ever

2. Philosophy can help people understand themselves

Philosophy can help people to understand themselves and their place in the world. One of the main benefits of studying philosophy is that it can teach us how to question our assumptions and beliefs. Many of us take certain things for granted, without ever really questioning why we believe them. By exploring how thoughts and beliefs are formed, and how this has evolved throughout history, we can begin to understand our own frame of beliefs.

Philosophy can also provide us with a framework for making ethical decisions and for exploring important questions about life and death, meaning and purpose. By studying philosophy, students can develop their reasoning and abstract thinking skills, which are essential for success in any field.

Four Reasons Why Philosophy Is As Relevant As Ever

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3. Science can’t answer every question

Science is one of the most important components in our lives today. We rely heavily on it for both personal and professional reasons. However, science can't tell us what makes something right or wrong. Blogger David Calhoun adds, “At its core, philosophy is a striving towards figuring out what is true and worthwhile, and what it means to live a meaningful and worthwhile life. That’s something off-limits for science, because science can tell us how things are empirically, but it can’t prescribe how we should then live. [...] In short: science helps us live longer, whereas philosophy helps us live better.”

Four Reasons Why Philosophy Is As Relevant As Ever

4. Philosophy is important for business

At first pass, a “soft” science like philosophy may not seem especially relevant to business. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. From a business perspective, philosophy is an important and highly relevant field of study.

Businesses today need to think about how they will operate in 10 years as well as the types of employees they want working for them in the future. Philosophy is a great way of looking at problems that could affect companies down the line: ethical issues like corporate citizenship or unfair labor practices; questions regarding technology such as whether automation should be allowed since it can replace human workers so much more easily than before.

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management professor of philosophy Christine Tiefensee explains that anyone who wants to succeed in a challenging, leading position in business, public administration, politics, or the wider society needs a crucial set of skills. She adds, "You will need to see quickly through complex issues, put together convincing arguments for or against given proposals, filter relevant from irrelevant information, check the consistency and soundness of policy papers, decide which problems are crucial and identify the issues that are still badly understood. These skills of rigorous analysis, sound argument and critical examination are the bread-and-butter of philosophy: no subject trains our ability for consistent, systematic thought better than philosophy.”

These skills aren’t limited to the business world, however. They can be applied in virtually any context -- both professionally and personally.

Four Reasons Why Philosophy Is As Relevant As Ever

5. Ancient philosophers continue to influence humanity

While Plato and Aristotle are often credited with shaping future civilizations, and their influence is still felt today, Publishers Weekly insists, “The ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle may seem like the quintessential Dead White Males, but in fact they are very much alive. Twenty four centuries ago they laid the foundations of Western culture, and their ideas and insights still dictate essential features of our world right now, from what we eat to what we see on the internet.”

Four Reasons Why Philosophy Is As Relevant As Ever

Philosophy is a subject with extraordinary staying power and potential. It does not just stand to change the world; it might just change the course of your life. Students interested in studying philosophy can choose to study a traditional four-year bachelor's degree, or they may opt for a more specialized program such as a master's degree or doctorate. Philosophy degrees can be found at both public and private colleges and universities, and many are offered through online learning programs. With a degree in philosophy, you will be prepared to tackle any challenge life throws your way.

Joanna Hughes

Author

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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