People who are unfamiliar with philosophy and its approaches often wonder how anyone could benefit from it.
Many believe that philosophy can only benefit the well-educated. However, others also think that the act of philosophizing may be beneficial to anybody looking to examine their own views and beliefs.
So, we asked the question, “how can a person benefit from philosophizing?”
Here are some valuable insights:
Educational Professional | President, International Business University
There’s been a widespread movement, both within the academy and incorporating spheres, to work toward having a better grasp of the meaning of our everyday life.
For students grappling with entering an ever-changing industry and for professionals confronted with the impact of the pandemic on their priorities as they once stood, there seemed to be a collective call to take a step back, reconsider, and move forward with an enlightened approach.
But that process is much harder said than done, not least because of the challenge every human mind has to reframe their initial assumptions. It’s that stage in the process that can be immensely aided through philosophy.
Following is a brief overview regarding the power of philosophizing at watershed moments like this.
It can be a personal endeavor backed by a wealth of knowledge
The word philosophy comes from the Greek root words ‘philo,’ meaning love, and ‘sophos,’ meaning wisdom. Philosophy considers the fundamental nature of the pillars of our existence, namely:
- reality, and
And while this is a course of study well supported by educational institutions, philosophy can also be a personal endeavor.
Related: Why Study Philosophy?
But it’s an endeavor best supported by the wealth of knowledge on which we all stand, a study of the literature, or an engagement with the current thinkers. They are successfully recapitulating those viewpoints and highlighting their relevance to some of the societal struggles we’re facing today.
It can positively change the course of your life
One of the immensely beneficial insights that can come from an engagement with philosophy is the reframing of the agent-arena relationship. Throughout most of our lives, we’re the agent.
The arena is the space in which we exist; our social relationships, our goals and endeavors, our workplace, our education system, and our base-level understanding of the ‘big things’ like:
- knowledge, and
Mostly, we develop those concepts and relationships consciously and with the help of our social institutions.
But sometimes, taking a step back to reframe our sense of ourselves as ‘agents’ and our understanding of our reality as ‘arena’ can bring to incredible light insights that can positively change the course of a life.
Many practices can help people on their journey to doing so.
Great literature is an exercise in closely observing agent-arena relationships that are different than our own or imagining some of the consequences, both positive and negative, that can come from different understandings.
Watching great thinkers grapple with these same concepts and understanding their takeaways is an equally valuable experience.
Engaging in a mindfulness practice like meditation or yoga or seeking flow state experiences through creative work, team sports, or other outlets can be valuable ways to put the insights gained into practice.
Gaining a new understanding of what it is that we believe
In short, the mind is a self-organizing agent. What we believe can influence what we notice, and what we notice helps to shape our beliefs continually.
When we philosophize, we take a step back and make space to gain a new understanding of what it is that we believe.
Educational systems can be the beginning of that process. But the best thing that a learning professional can offer is an introduction, an invitation for students to have a relationship with this ongoing endeavor and to sharpen the tools they have to reflect, reframe, and reconsider.
That’s an exercise that should take place again and again over the course of a meaningful life, and when we support ourselves, our students, our employees, or our loved ones in doing so, we’re working together toward one of the most valuable projects available to our time: making meaning an active part of our lives.
John F. Tholen, PhD
Retired Psychologist | Author, “Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind“
What does “philosophizing” mean?
Philosophizing means speculating about an important aspect of life and using reasoning to discuss the possible nature of human existence.
The goal of examining and discussing our thoughts and beliefs is usually to analyze and better understand concepts and arguments.
Related: Why Is Philosophy Important?
Enhancement of our ability to manage emotions and behavior
Philosophizing is considered important for intellectual development and the advancement of knowledge. However, an even greater potential benefit lies in the possible enhancement of our ability to manage emotions and behavior.
Although it seems that our emotions and motivations result directly from the events and circumstances we encounter in life, they are instead reactions to our self-talk.
This internal monologue streams endlessly through our waking consciousness, interpreting our every experience.
The thoughts that automatically “pop” into our minds are determined by a complex interaction between our inherited traits and our early life experience—neither of which is under our control.
When that interplay has left us cynical about life or excessively self-critical, our spontaneous thoughts are often dysfunctional—causing distress without inspiring constructive action.
Common psychological illusions such as “negativity bias” and “confirmation bias” cause even those of us who have been more fortunate to experience automatic dysfunctional thoughts frequently.
And when we permit dysfunctional thoughts to occupy our attention-challenged, our peace of mind is disrupted, and our self-assertion becomes inhibited—even though such ideas are almost always incomplete, unreasonable, or completely wrong.
When we find ourselves distressed or inhibited, our best response is often to employ the closest thing we have to a “superpower,” our ability at any moment to shift the focus of our attention to a more balanced and reasonable (functional) thought likely to create a more reassuring, hopeful, or motivating perspective.
Examples of philosophical thoughts likely to improve our mood and motivation would include:
- Traditional Religious Philosophy:
- As these events and circumstances have been ordained by divine will, they must be for the best in some way that is beyond my understanding.
- My deceased loved one is now in a better place where there is no fear, conflict, or frustration.
- Rejecting my primitive desire for reality to be different will help me attain enlightenment and complete peace of mind.
- Knowing that life is short and that I will die can help me remember to “seize the day” and make the most of my limited time on Earth.
- As both my actions and the actions of others are determined by forces outside our conscious control, all mistakes and bad acts—either by me or by others—are inevitable, understandable, and forgivable.
- Everything I need to survive—and even to thrive—is within me or within my reach.
- Some of our best feelings come from surviving and overcoming what seemed like a disaster.
- Success or failure is less important than “sincere, positive effort,” as only the latter is under my control.
- Life is unpredictable. I can’t prepare for every possibility or control what life brings, only how I respond.
Chaye McIntosh, MS, LCADC
Clinical Director, ChoicePoint
Philosophy mostly urges you to ask questions that challenge your assumptions and beliefs. It fosters the ability to think clearly and to provide answers.
There are numerous advantages of philosophizing, but here are a few:
It solves fundamental real-life questions
Philosophy raises questions about everything; there is nothing to be afraid of. It not only raises challenging real-life dilemmas for you but also provides solutions.
- What is reality?
- Is your source of information reliable?
- What is the difference between good and evil?
- Is there a God?
- Is there an afterlife?
Philosophy contains no secrets.
Philosophizing creates logical thinking
Critical thinking is one of the most significant tools Philosophy provides. Critical thinkers are comfortable asking questions, viewing situations from several angles, and providing valid and logical solutions.
Related: 9 Critical Thinking Examples
You can learn a little bit about everything around you
Philosophy provides a glimpse into everything. You can learn a little bit about everything around you.
You will learn how to think correctly while studying Philosophy, but more importantly, you will question and discuss key ideas about all themes of human interest.
- Law and Politics,
- History, and
- many other subjects
It helps understand the human mind
You will begin to comprehend the relationship between how people think now and how they used to think while studying Philosophy. You will see how small ideas have grown into important discoveries or subjects of serious inquiry.
University Student Tutor, tutorspot
Philosophical thinking is based on the science of perspective, logic, and critical reflection.
Through philosophizing, people can unlock a deeper understanding of the world and develop a more insightful and comprehensive way of thinking, which they can use to seek answers to the most pressing and obscure topics.
In this day and age, it is even more crucial to look to philosophy to reflect on the state of our world.
It can unlock critical thinking
Philosophy is derived from two Greek words, philein and sophia, which together mean ‘lover of wisdom.’
The study teaches you to develop a critical eye and see beyond what is currently understood, bringing scientific thought and logic to the unknown.
Philosophizing can aim to answer such questions as “What is consciousness?“ and “What is the meaning of life?“ However, even sillier inquiries like “How did Cinderella’s slippers fall off when they supposedly fitted perfectly?” can be explored through the practice.
As a result of philosophizing, individuals can better answer profound questions and develop their critical eye, thus learning skills such as reasoning, which will prove invaluable in life.
While practicing improving our critical thinking abilities, we can look to a very good philosophical example. Hume’s Happiness Experiment is an infamous philosophical example.
In this scenario, the question arises of how we experience happiness. Say there is a machine, and when you are in the machine, you feel amazingly happy, more than you would in your regular life.
The majority of people think that happiness is everything and should be pursued, yet many would not want to live in a machine where they can only experience happiness. So, what could this mean?
Philosophizing about such situations can really boost one’s critical thinking. People can discover and question every emotion and try to figure out their life’s goals, and this can be beneficial to the development of character.
Philosophizing is a fun and novel activity
Philosophizing introduces new concepts and allows a person to question reality whilst also encouraging them to come up with their own weighty answers for topics often overlooked by others.
Through developing these skills, a person will begin to view and comprehend the world in a new light.
Philosophizing is also a fun and novel activity. It’s never dull to engage with or talk about because there are many profound and enjoyable issues to discuss. For example, thought experiments like Schrodinger’s Cat or the Trolley Problem are fascinating topics to discuss and philosophize.
In summary, philosophizing is never tiring, and in fact, it will significantly benefit a person since it will allow them to see the world in a new, more intriguing light.
Let’s examine a thought experiment that pertains to reality and perception to see just how the practice of philosophy can change our view of the world. Our very perception of the world can be challenged.
Human vision is very different from that of most other species; even our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, has a unique pattern of visual perception much different from our own. So, exactly does this mean?
The world is perceived by every species differently. Snakes see the world in infrared, while dogs see the world in dichromatic vision.
So, what is the most accurate perception of the world, and how can we even tell what the real world looks like or what species sees the world in the most accurate way?
Philosophers appreciate questions like this because they provide a deeper understanding of the world and make it even easier to understand how to analyze reality itself.
Now, let’s take a look into a different branch of philosophy, moral philosophy. Not many think that morals can be evaluated or justified, but one can analyze ethical behavior by philosophizing.
Not only can philosophy change the way we see the world in terms of perception but also in the way we interact with one another and hold our morals.
Many moral scenarios can be evaluated while philosophizing.
For example, the very nature of right, wrong, and morality can be questioned in ethical scenarios. We will look at a moral scenario to see how philosophizing can have such an effect.
Imagine that there is an evil scientist who wants to harm his village. He creates a potion and adds it to the village’s water supply in order to poison it.
However, this poison turned out to be a miracle cure and helped fix all the villagers’ illnesses and diseases. So how would we determine how good or bad the scientist is? He had evil intent, but the outcome was very good and perhaps world-changing.
As you philosophize, you will come across many situations like this that will cause you to question how you define morality and what is right or wrong.
It builds character by introducing fresh perspectives and emotions
Cognitive activity from a philosophical standpoint allows you to think critically and get fresh perspectives, both of which are highly beneficial. A person gains new critical skills and develops a more profound understanding by philosophizing, in a process that is always exciting and entirely rewarding.
Studying philosophy is very rewarding; it develops character by allowing one to see things and think about topics and emotions in new ways.
There is a reason why philosophy has been a prized study since pre-Socratics; it is one of the only subjects that can help shape the way a person sees and comprehends the world they live in whilst also assisting the improvement of skills such as reasoning and critical analysis.
President, Beyond Better
It allows us to examine things outside of the factual universe
Philosophy gets a bad rap. But most people don’t recognize that philosophy is the foundation of our choices and decision-making. Without exploring our own beliefs about how the world is and should be, our decisions tend to be based entirely on emotions rather than any apparent logic.
To gain clarity requires spending time thinking and discussing your own ways of perceiving and interpreting the world and your beliefs about it—philosophizing.
The arena where philosophy may be most apparent is in politics and policy generally. But it’s not the only area. Most of our thorniest concerns cannot be answered by reading Wikipedia.
Science gives us answers to facts. But Philosophy gives us a way to look at those things that lie outside of the factual universe.
For example, many of us will contend with serious illness at some point in our lives. If a family member is on life support, without any brain activity:
- Is it compassionate to turn off the machines? Or is it murder?
- Should we allow assisted suicide for people in agonizing pain?
- What about people with Alzheimer’s disease?
There is no perfect answer.
The only way to think about questions like that is philosophically. You are forced to weigh your own values and determine which you feel most strongly aligns with the situation. Likely you value life itself and do not want to be responsible for ending a life.
But, you might think, is this— being hooked up to machines without brain activity —a life?
If someone knows they will succumb to severe dementia and lose all of their brain’s ability, should he be allowed to plan for an assisted suicide at some point in the disease’s progression?
These are difficult questions without perfect answers. But, consider a simpler one.
If you know that there is a dire need for housing in your region and hear about a plan to build a low-income apartment building, do you support the plan? What if they are building it on your block? There are philosophical foundations for whatever your answer may be.
Until you explore those themes, your reaction may be purely emotional.
We are always using philosophy. It underpins our decisions and thinking about everything from tax policy to whether to return your shopping cart to the store entrance or give money to the homeless.
And without spending time and mental energy thinking about philosophical questions in the general sense, we won’t have those principles available to make specific decisions in our lives or communities.
Instead, we will react through impulse or reflex. But those reflexive responses are usually a function of little more than self-protection.
As human beings, we can transcend our impulses. Philosophy gives us the road map for how to do that.
CEO, Cleaning Green LLC
To properly comprehend the benefits of philosophizing, we must first understand what philosophizing is in the first place.
For the most part, it is analyzing and speculating about an idea, option, or issue uniquely and unusually that challenges one’s critical logic, thinking, and problem-solving skills.
The best part of philosophy is that since it covers a massive variety of topics, an individual can philosophize and apply its mental practices in virtually any field.
It does wonders to achieve a better version of ourselves
We can all use a daily dose of philosophy to improve our daily lives. When we try to think about our daily problems and issues that we face in our communities, we are able to see them from a very different perspective, which allows us to ask the right questions that will eventually lead us to their optimum solutions.
When talking about individuality, philosophizing can do wonders when it comes to achieving a better version of ourselves. We tend to think of the issues about our personality habits from our own perspective.
But when we philosophize about them, we are introduced to a whole new, broader understanding and viewpoint of the inappropriate habits that our behavior carries.
This realization allows us to realize that the problem lies within us, and to be better, we must eliminate them.
In my personal opinion, Philosophy seems to have existed ever since a person learned to be aware of himself and the surrounding reality.
Philosophizing benefits us in many ways. I have listed some benefits below:
Philosophy forms the concept of utility
The most helpful thing that Philosophizing does is form the concept of utility. The idea of utility is the philosophical sense. It is abstract, subjective, multifaceted, and ambiguous. There is no unambiguous benefit for everyone.
As a result, it is necessary to reflect on it and develop one or another understanding of the benefits.
For example, are modern achievements in helpful technical science? Many people who have studied scientific philosophy will respond positively.
But, for instance, Buddhists who are primarily engaged in spiritual practices may recognize that modern technologies are useless or even harmful to achieving their goals, as they cause attachment.
Forms the concept of Mathematics and deals with its comprehension
We live in a mathematical society wherein Mathematics is both a science, an economy, and even art. But the very mathematics that we use today was created by Greek philosophers, particularly the Pythagoreans and Platonists.
Pre-Pythagorean mathematical propositions also seem to have been made through productive thinking (Philosophizing) since they require abstract review and are realized through the idealization of natural objects.
Philosophy creates cultures
Since philosophy is productive thinking, it necessarily becomes a phenomenon at the foundation of any culture.
We often create certain positions within the framework of a culture that is already engaged in philosophy in one way or another. When creating something, the first thing that comes into play is thought.
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