Why Is Philosophy Important?

Philosophy is a subject that most people tend to ignore or avoid. However, experts say that philosophy is an essential part of understanding and appreciating the world around us.

So, this leads us to the question, why is philosophy important? Will it help us with our day-to-day life?

According to experts, here are the top reasons why:

Scott Foulkrod, J.D.

Scott Foulkrod

Associate Professor of Philosophy and Legal Studies, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

It illuminates and helps us ponder and create at the boundaries of what we know

Philosophy is important because it illuminates and helps us ponder and create at the boundaries of what we know and what we would like to know or create in science, religion, politics, and many other fields of inquiry and life.

To begin with, it is human nature, what we know and inquires into areas that we explore and can only imagine at the moment.

It starts from a base of accepted knowledge and then expands with a thought, “what if?” Einstein imagined what it would be like to travel on a beam of light.

Many have wondered whether and what God is. Psychology and many other fields that we endeavor to understand as science are ever-changing explorations and explanations of thought.

Philosophy is where reasonable people disagree on a topic, where we live in so many issues such as religion, politics, law, and even scientific inquiry.

It allows us to push the boundaries of what we know

It allows us to push the boundaries of what we know into what we would like to learn next or challenge what we think we know.

Some of my former students have told me that our philosophy class was the most important one they took in college because it put all else into perspective with career, life, and moral reasoning about not only can we, but should we, or how should we go about this?

It helps us explore topics with reason and humanity

For millennia we have endeavored to solve questions about our existence, the beginning and nature of the universe, the presence and intent of God, who should govern us, and how laws we should live by.

We should use reasoning to decide our actions’ morality, and as important as these questions are, we have not reached any specific agreement.

Philosophy helps us explore these topics with reason and humanity in our attempt to come to solutions we can for a time live with, even while we continue to debate and study them as society changes and boundaries of our technology dissolve.

It put all else into perspective: career, life, moral reasoning, etc

It is human nature to imagine and explore, and philosophy lives at these boundaries in specific fields such as science and technology.

Former students have told me that our philosophy course was their most important because it put all else into perspective: career, life, moral reasoning, asking not only can we, but should we, and how we should go about doing it.

It is crucial in teaching us to debate with civility

The value of philosophy today is as crucial as ever in teaching us to debate with civility.

When we leave mere personal passion and use reason, evidence, and empathy, we bring people with us and to us, not to win, but to offer others with our informed hope as we try to create something better for ourselves, our planet, and other species with whom we share it.

Karen Southall Watts

Karen Southall Watts

Instructor of Humanities and Success Skills, Bellingham Technical College | Author, The Solo Workday

It is a fundamental part of being a human

Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Those of us drowning in dirty laundry, unpaid bills, or endless task lists are now collectively rolling our eyes.

Yet, the search for meaning in life is not limited to academics in ivory towers. When given a bit of time and space, we all long to know why we’re here and how we fit in.

Not everyone will get the luxury of taking philosophy classes, but philosophy—the study of the nature of existence—is a fundamental part of being human.

Philosophy courses build skills

Ask employers what they want in new hires and what job candidates lack.

You will hear some combinations of the following:

Related: Why is Critical Thinking Important?

Philosophy courses, and other humanities-based classes that fall under this broad heading, build these essential skills. Students in these classes learn how to examine the human experience and discuss issues that are sensitive and often complex.

Philosophy and related courses teach us how to think, and having carefully thought about something, how to share those thoughts with others.

Textbooks are excellent but not always required

People love to gather and talk about life, from early morning coffee groups to book clubs to Death Cafe’s to the comment section on YouTube. Connecting with others and pondering the meaning of our lives is normal, natural, and not limited to formal classroom settings.

Philosophy, and the shared language of philosophical discussion, give us the means to find society in a world that is often overwhelming, chaotic, and cruel.

Philosophical discussion is the arena where we learn to argue with respect, debate with civility, and analyze with care.

Dr. Anneke Schmidt

Anneke Schmidt

Educational Researcher | Founder, Skill & Care

There are many reasons why teaching Philosophy in schools can benefit students’ development. Here is a brief list of the main advantages:

Promotes critical thinking and reasoning skills

The discipline of philosophy provides students with the thought processes necessary to analyze issues, solve problems, and make decisions.

Philosophy can improve students’ reasoning, argumentation, listening, and speaking skills by engaging them in inquiry and debates. Students who study philosophical works develop more vital reasoning skills through class discussion.

Increases ethical awareness and self-reflection

Another benefit of teaching philosophy in schools is that it encourages ethical thinking. The study of philosophy helps students develop a sense of right and wrong, enabling them to apply their knowledge of ethics to their everyday lives.

Philosophy is more than just an academic subject. It requires students to reflect on the important moral issues in their lives, examines why these are considered “moral” problems, and understand the consequences of acting upon one’s convictions.

It can also cultivate respect for different cultures and ideas through exposure to different philosophical theories about life and death, happiness, beauty, etc., and challenge one’s preconceived notions about self and society.

Furthers a passion for learning

One common criticism of teaching philosophy in schools is that the discipline only helps students be eloquent in their verbal expression but fails to teach them any factual knowledge or common sense.

This, however, is a narrow view of what philosophy entails. Philosophy has been known as the “love of wisdom.” It requires systematic and rigorous thinking to understand the complexities of human existence.

The discipline can thus stimulate a passion for lifelong learning and lead students into subjects like history, mathematics, science, or literature.

Getting children involved in philosophy at an early age will help them develop a sense of wonder and instill a love for reading.

It will enable them to ask questions about the things around them that they do not understand, thus encouraging their learning abilities.

Brian Gawor

Brian Gawor

Vice President of Research, RNL

It can open people to the world of ideas at an early age

We’re moving, as a society, away from “stuff.” We’re in an idea and experience economy, and people care more about their purpose and meaning today than the next shiny thing they can buy.

Philosophy opened me to the world of ideas at an early age and has made me more able to connect with people and make a change in every organization I’ve served.

I remember buying a “philosophy for dummies” comic book series my first year in college. And great professors helped me dive into the world of ideas. It changed my life.

I learned about marketing and technology on the job. But because I was introduced to the world of ideas and purpose early, I’ve been better and more resilient as a professional.

In a time of stress, turmoil, and demands from the world, It’s easy to get caught up in the “when” and “how.” Philosophy allows us to focus on the “why,” and that’s crucial to happiness, success, and fulfillment.

Lynda Fairly 

Lynda Fairly 

Co-founder, Numlooker

Philosophy has been around since the very beginning of time, so it’s no surprise that it continues to be a topic of interest.

While many are laughing at the thought of a career in philosophy if they can’t see any practical applications for its study, this field is worth exploring because it can teach you about yourself, love, and even help you understand other people better.

Here are just some of the reasons why it’s an excellent subject to take up and consider as a career option.

You’ll gain valuable insight into human nature

Philosophy will teach you the psychology behind why we think, act, and react to the things in life that we do.

It will teach you about human nature, which is essential for understanding others and predicting the actions and reactions of your fellow humans.

You’ll learn how to understand yourself better

Many people mistakenly believe that only other people know how they feel or think, but we experience life much like everyone else when it comes down to it.

If you consider yourself a “soulful person” or a “hard-headed thinker,” philosophy will show you specific ways of learning more about yourself through literature.

You’ll learn how to be a better person

Many people know that philosophy can help you become a better person, but it’s the most important aspect of this subject.

It will teach you about the things that we can all do and understand

Philosophy will teach you about the things that we can all do and understand but don’t because we may not have experienced them first-hand or been taught about them on a deep or meaningful level.

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