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Author Topic: The point in philosophy?  (Read 4163 times)
PurpleCrow
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« Topic Start: July 13, 2009, 11:49:50 am »

When I went to college (for the second time... mucked up my first time there  Roll Eyes) I enrolled on the Philosophy A level course. I attended for an entire two weeks... On my last lesson I was a bit drunk (it was my birthday Tongue) and I asked the teacher "What is the point in Philosophy?" - Not just in relation to "studying" it, but as a whole. He couldnt answer my question (actually didnt even attempt to answer it as he was so stumped). So, I was wondering what everyone who posts in this part of the forum, those who study/ed philosophy, thought the point in Philosophy was? Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?
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« Reply #1: July 13, 2009, 12:00:30 pm »

<snippage> So, I was wondering what everyone who posts in this part of the forum, those who study/ed philosophy, thought the point in Philosophy was? Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?

I'll start with a definition, taken from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles (an abridged version, of course, of THE OED). The definition that seems to apply best is: "that department of knowledge or study which deals with ultimate reality, or with the most general causes and principles of things." And, I'll add to that another one from farther down the line: "The system which a person forms for the conduct of life."

That said, my personal take on the subject is: It's a means by which to structure my actions so that I cause the least harm to anyone (myself included) and bring about the best outcomes for as many people as possible (myself included). Do I adhere to any one philosophy in particular? I try, yes--Tibetan Buddhism has come to be the system that speaks loudest to me, and its precepts are those I try hardest to follow.
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« Reply #2: July 13, 2009, 12:10:21 pm »

When I went to college (for the second time... mucked up my first time there  Roll Eyes) I enrolled on the Philosophy A level course. I attended for an entire two weeks... On my last lesson I was a bit drunk (it was my birthday Tongue) and I asked the teacher "What is the point in Philosophy?" - Not just in relation to "studying" it, but as a whole. He couldnt answer my question (actually didnt even attempt to answer it as he was so stumped). So, I was wondering what everyone who posts in this part of the forum, those who study/ed philosophy, thought the point in Philosophy was? Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?

might be he couldn't answer it because it's too BIG a question.  I mean really - what's the point of math?  Or science?

Philosophy helps us look at the theories underpinning our own reality.  Are we savage monsters?  Are we decent?  What are we, and where do we go from there?

It's not even so much that it answers questions - it's that philosophy gives us the questions we need to answer.  And without the questions, it's very hard to come up with answers.
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« Reply #3: July 13, 2009, 12:55:35 pm »

When I went to college (for the second time... mucked up my first time there  Roll Eyes) I enrolled on the Philosophy A level course. I attended for an entire two weeks... On my last lesson I was a bit drunk (it was my birthday Tongue) and I asked the teacher "What is the point in Philosophy?" - Not just in relation to "studying" it, but as a whole. He couldnt answer my question (actually didnt even attempt to answer it as he was so stumped). So, I was wondering what everyone who posts in this part of the forum, those who study/ed philosophy, thought the point in Philosophy was? Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?

yeah...i would say that we study philosophy in order to think about the "whys" of things. asking the why of studying philosophy is very philosophical.
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« Reply #4: July 13, 2009, 05:00:56 pm »

When I went to college (for the second time... mucked up my first time there  Roll Eyes) I enrolled on the Philosophy A level course. I attended for an entire two weeks... On my last lesson I was a bit drunk (it was my birthday Tongue) and I asked the teacher "What is the point in Philosophy?" - Not just in relation to "studying" it, but as a whole. He couldnt answer my question (actually didnt even attempt to answer it as he was so stumped). So, I was wondering what everyone who posts in this part of the forum, those who study/ed philosophy, thought the point in Philosophy was? Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?

I have always thought of philosophy as a means of gaining understanding; tools with which to examine anything and everything.  At it's best, to seek knowledge, to truly "love wisdom".  Those times make it worth enduring all the sophistry, pedantic blowhards, and contests for who can come up with the most wordy obfuscation of reality that one runs into reading/studying philosophy.
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« Reply #5: July 13, 2009, 06:38:04 pm »



To me philosophy is a few things. At its simplest, its an application of reason to the world we find ourselves living in. It is undertaken for a range of reasons, the foremost of which would be sheer joy in the enquiry; increased understanding of what it is to reason, how reason works and what it can and cannot achieve; establishing consistency between different beleifs and understandings about the world; and determining how to live in the world. To my mind, it's this last that is most important and least emphasised in modern times. The goal of the philosopher is to understand the world as it actually is, to understand what it means to live in the world, and to fit ones actions to this understanding. Essentially, philosophers want to know "What's really going on here?" and "What is the right thing to do about it?", with the intention that they will then go on to do that thing.
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« Reply #6: July 15, 2009, 11:58:16 pm »

. . . Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?

PurpleCrow

I never took courses in or properly studied philosophy, but had a pretty big interest in different branches when I was younger. What drew me to it in the first place was basically "There's people who write entire books on these crazy things I'm thinking?". I couldn't believe it, but it made me eager to hear their opinions on the questions I'd ask myself or friends(the first was what's the meaning of life of course). The more I read, the more my outlook on the world and life in general changed, however much I agreed or disagreed with the authors.

Basically what I'm saying is to me philosophy gets broken down into what I think of everything outside and inside my self.

The first thing I got into was Existentialism . . . that didn't do much in the way of brightening up my dusty 14 yr old outlook on life, but it did feel good to hear that other people (celebrated and educated people) shared some of my opinions. Later on it was a few different eastern philosophy(/religious) books that came my way. These ideas made my outlook on life and people much different, and somehow made things feel more simple and direct. In the end everything that I've read has helped me to understand what things I do and don't believe. My perspective would be a lot different without the little bit of philosophy that I've known.

I guess that's it.

- Manny
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« Reply #7: July 25, 2009, 07:15:04 pm »

I was wondering what everyone who posts in this part of the forum, those who study/ed philosophy, thought the point in Philosophy was? Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?
I think that the point of philosophy is to consider the big questions of life--The way things are and why--in an attempt to understand the world around us so that we can act appropriately.  The questions and answers provided by philosophical inquiry allow us to make informed decisions in our lives.  Philosophy can examine things like ethics such that we can act as we feel is morally and ethically responsible according to our philosophies, or it can be studying metaphysics in order to come to terms with the events of life.  There will certainly be those who do not see the use of questioning one's life and existence in general, but to some it is very important.  Myself, I am very interested in patterns in life, which seem to suggest to me a metaphysical map, as it were, that deserves exploration.  If it be none to you, then perhaps there is no purpose FOR YOU to study it.
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« Reply #8: August 11, 2009, 02:53:56 pm »

I think that the point of philosophy is to consider the big questions of life--The way things are and why--in an attempt to understand the world around us so that we can act appropriately.

This was pretty much what my philosophy professor told us.  Philosophy is the root of all other studies.  It's not until that school of thought has been fleshed out, so to speak that it branches off.  Chemistry, psychology, even dentistry have their roots in philosophy.
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« Reply #9: August 24, 2009, 03:07:16 pm »

....So, I was wondering what everyone who posts in this part of the forum, those who study/ed philosophy, thought the point in Philosophy was? Why learn about these things? Is there any real reason (except for a basic interest) in philosophy generally?

It depends. Everything we do, we have reason whether a not so important one or whatever. I love philosophy. I like it because it makes me wonder. We all know that there is a large amount of things we don't understand. But, I like to try and make up explanations that sound plausible or close to it. Sometimes, not close at all, but it is ... fun I suppose to question things. Besides, if we didn't question everything, we would still be cave people. I don't think we could survive without looking for answers anyways. Philosophy is pursing the truth even though we might never really get there. Think of it as a treadmill. You jog and run getting nowhere until you can't handle it, seems pointless, but it isn't. It's to exercise our bodies. With philosophy, we exercise our minds, evolving I suppose.
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