The Renaissance painting “The School of Athens” is packed with famous faces, including Plato and Aristotle. Full of symbols, the painting is a love letter to philosophers of the past. Today, our love letters look a little different than Raphael’s masterpiece, but the world is still fascinated with philosophy. Why? Contrary to what many might think, philosophy is not a dry academic exercise without practical applications. Here are ten reasons why philosophy matters:
#1. Philosophy asks the important questions
No other discipline is as obsessed with big questions as philosophy. Whether it’s justifying human rights, pondering the meaning of existence, or figuring out the best form of government, philosophy has always steered humanity’s curiosity. Since ancient days, philosophers have dedicated themselves to exploring the thought process while analyzing their thinking every step of the way. No question is too big or too small for philosophy.
#2. Philosophy helps with critical thinking and reason
Besides asking the big questions, philosophy is all about the thought process. Critical thinking and reasoning are a huge part of what defines philosophy. For years, philosophers debated how to assess and categorize different styles of thinking, how to identify sound reasoning, and so on. The debate is always going on. When you adopt a philosophical mindset and learn to analyze statements and ideas with a critical eye, you become a better thinker. You’re able to tell when an idea is worth your time or if it’s relying on something that’s inherently weak and unsound. This is an essential skill that can be applied everywhere in your life.
#3. Philosophy helps guide the research process
When you’re faced with a research project of some kind, the amount of data can be overwhelming. Philosophy and its emphasis on analytical thinking and sound arguments help you sort through everything. You’ll be able to tell when an idea or argument isn’t going anywhere, so you can focus your attention elsewhere. Philosophy also helps you develop your own position using clear, sound reasoning based on the research you’ve done.
#4. Philosophy teaches persuasiveness
Besides critical thinking and reasoning, philosophy teaches people the importance of being persuasive. You can have the best argument in the world with lots of evidence, but if you can’t get anyone else to see that, what’s the point? Beginning in ancient days, rhetoric – the art of persuasion – was employed by everyone from politicians to lawyers to poets. When you study philosophy and rhetoric, you’ll learn how to develop and present your arguments in a way that appeals to your audience. This is an extremely valuable skill no matter what your goals are.
#5. Philosophy teaches problem-solving
Problems are a part of life. No matter what type of problem you’re facing, philosophy can help. That’s because philosophy teaches techniques like observation, intuition, and logic. Using critical thinking and effective research, you can break problems down to their essence and test solutions. Philosophy was developed as a way to solve problems in the form of big questions. It makes sense that it would be useful for any problem.
#6. Philosophy can be applied to every discipline
No matter what subject you’re dealing with, there’s a philosophical aspect that enhances the learning experience. In a sense, philosophy forces you to ask questions like “What?” and “Why?” Whether you’re studying literature or science, the philosophical piece makes you ask: What is the essence of the topic at hand and why does it matter? Philosophy is all about critical thinking and reasoning, which are important skills in any discipline. They make the learning process more organized and rewarding.
#7. Philosophy forms a good foundation for a variety of careers
Philosophy isn’t just useful in a classroom or learning setting. It’s an important tool for many career fields, including the business world. To succeed in business, a person must work through often-complex issues, write persuasive arguments for a position, and research quickly and effectively. Critical thinking and reasoning are essential. This is even more true for legal professions. A career in anything related to science also requires mastery of philosophical concepts and analytical thinking. Any career benefits from a bit of philosophy; it isn’t a subject that’s limited to academia.
#8. Philosophy helps you sort through your own beliefs
Most people go through life without questioning what they believe. Philosophy asks us to take a closer look at our lives and worldviews. You might realize that what you’ve always believed about yourself, the world, and so on don’t make sense anymore. On the other side, you might become more confident in what you believe. Even if you don’t ever defend them to another person, the process of questioning and collecting evidence for your beliefs can change your life.
#9. Philosophy influences the world today
While you may not be aware of it, philosophy has a huge impact on how the world works. We have democracy because of philosophers. Many of the issues people wrestle with daily – such as how to be a good person – are philosophical. If you ever wonder why the world is the way it is and you look back at history, you’ll find most things have a root in philosophy.
#10. Philosophy can fuel change and progress
Most of history’s biggest changes, whether they’re cultural or political, began as intellectual debates. This is because philosophy is all about caring about everything, including the questions and the thinking process. Philosophy encourages the world to take a deeper look at why things are the way they are and if they could be better. That’s how progress is made.