All people should philosophize
“What is the point of philosophy?” - 7 answers
A short introduction to the great realm of thought
Does the word philosophy scare you off or do you find it fascinating?
It fascinated me from the beginning.
Perhaps because philosophy was only revealed to me in the last class of high school, while before that I knew the term, but never knew what exactly it was.
So I waited for years to get to know this science better and became more curious and curious.
Perhaps also because I have always been enthusiastic that philosophy deals with the LAST QUESTIONS and looks for answers to them.
Final questions! Doesn't that sound exciting?
Okay, not everyone is a freak like me. Not everyone freezes in awe at the names of great thinkers whose ideas have endured for decades and centuries.
It is quite possible that the philosophy class bored you to death.
It is quite possible that you wanted to brood more about the weekend party experiences than about the outpouring of a thinker.
It is quite possible that your lousy philo teacher was simply unable to get the thinking party going in your head.
It is quite possible that you never came into contact with philosophy.
What is philosophy anyway?
The term is made up of the ancient Greek words "philein" = "love" and "sophia" = "wisdom". The philosophy is thus the "love of wisdom".
That doesn't help us a lot.
The best way to explain philosophy is to take a closer look at what it deals with.
A little hint at the beginning: It deals with pretty much everything.
Philosophy begins where you can no longer get any further with normal means ...
And it is actually the case that in every science or in every part of life you come to a dead end at some point.
Let's take the political round table discussion in the pub;
There is endless ranting about this or that politician. This party praised to heaven, that doomed. One discusses current politics and the developments in the future. And at some point it comes to more fundamental questions about politics; “What would be the best way to govern a country?” Or “Is democracy still appropriate?”.
And the answers to that?
- "Hmm ...", "Difficult ..." or "I need another beer now."
We have come to the realm of the last political questions and thus into the realm of political philosophy.
Max and Moritz discuss whether their friend Asterix was telling the truth or not. Max is convinced that he is lying, Moritz thinks the opposite is the case. After a long time both of them run out of arguments and Max hesitantly says: "What is this shitty truth anyway?". Moritz looks up in surprise, frowns and says: “Good question!”.
Oops. Our two friends slipped into philosophy unexpectedly. And so they continue to debate the essence of truth for two hours.
Incidentally, this question is dealt with in epistemology. Another part of philosophy.
Philosophy is roughly divided into theoretical and practical philosophy. This dichotomy goes back to the great Aristotle. While theoretical philosophy aims at understanding, practical philosophy focuses on action. The political philosophy mentioned above belongs to the practical, the epistemology to the theoretical philosophy.
What does philosophy bring?
This question is probably as old as philosophy itself.
The philosophy enemy often answers them very simply:
I see it differently:
1. Philosophy helps you to penetrate your thinking uncompromisingly to the source of a problem
The two examples above have shown that many conversations at some point slide into the philosophical.
For me, this fact alone is proof that philosophical speaking is essential for us humans.
We want - at least most of us - to get to the basics of certain questions. Philosophy does that, it continues to ask uncompromisingly, asks the fundamental (last) questions and does not allow half-truths or vague assumptions to apply.
If you want to think and ask without restrictions, then deal with philosophy.
2. Philosophy provides orientation and orientation helps with decisions
By asking uncompromising questions with the help of philosophy, you are penetrating further and further to the foundation of a problem.
And the further you go to this, the better you can orientate yourself in a problem area.
And the better you can orient yourself, the better decisions you can make.
Example: Let's say your seriously ill mother can no longer communicate. You don't know if she is suffering, you wonder if her life is still worth living, you despair because you only want the best for her.
Bioethics as part of philosophy has dealt with this dilemma and can offer you orientation here.
She can teach you which values conflict with one another in such situations. By analyzing the terms “autonomy”, “suffering”, “right to life” etc. in more detail and thus getting your bearings in this area.
With the help of this orientation, you can ultimately decide better and more reasonably what is best for your mother.
However, this point is controversial - we will also see this in the future. While philosophy has given me a better understanding of a problem and a stable foundation in certain areas, the opposite has happened in others. The further I got into the problem area, the more clueless I became ... - But that too can be instructive and fascinating!
3. Philosophy challenges your "common sense" again and again
It is often not as healthy as it might appear.
He is usually just too comfortable to think for himself.
Actually, this blender should be called “lazy common sense”.
Philosophy challenges him again and again. Of course, she respects him and asks herself why we as a mass tend to take a certain side in this or that matter. But it also exposes it when it is outdated and no longer up-to-date.
Another reason why philosophy is so valuable.
4. Philosophy enables you to look at problems from different perspectives
Every philosophy student knows that a problem is usually more complex than it looks at the beginning.
And every philosophy student is desperate that the big questions can be examined in such different ways and over and over again.
You learn from this experience. You learn to break down problems and look at them from different perspectives.
At the beginning of my studies, I still remember shyly announcing to a group of around twelve people that I was now a philosopher. This was followed by a smile and the typical question “What do you want to do with it?”.
Before I was able to strike back on my first defense (which would probably have gone wrong at the time), a 35-year-old colleague took the floor at the table. He said that his boss (he worked for a medium-sized company in the computer industry) had hired two philosophers in the past two years because he had always loved their "unconventional and outside-the-box" skills, and both of them have exceeded his expectations so far.
Suddenly nobody at the table was smiling anymore. Nobody had a reply either. I was doubly happy; On the one hand, I was no longer under pressure to justify myself and, on the other hand, from now on I was even more convinced of my philosophy studies.
5. Philosophy can help you find a happy life
A great many philosophers have asked the question of a happy life.
The question of what a happy life is, but also the question of how to become happy.
The philosophy is full of instructions on how to be happy.
I'm sure I'll introduce you to one or the other here in the blog.
6. Philosophy shows you what is (not) “good”
The question of the good deals with philosophy in ethics (which in turn is part of practical philosophy).
What's the good How do you become a good person?
The philosophers have tried to find answers to these questions. And these turned out to be very different.
I will also talk about that here in the future.
7. Philosophy is fun!
Because it's unbelievable what has already been thought.
Because it is astonishing that a new thinker keeps popping up and conjuring something that has never been there out of his pocket, something that the next generations will worry about.
Because it is a pleasure to follow the feuds and battles of thought between philosophers.
Because it is good to notice that with every step that you venture into in the universe of philosophy, you become more and more familiar with yourself, you look through more and more connections.
Because many of the great philosophers were also excellent writers, full of observation, wit and accuracy in formulating.
Because you can tap into the realm of philosophy the way you prefer to do it yourself. It doesn't matter whether you start with the old pre-Socratics or with the philosophers of the 20th century. It doesn't matter whether you dive in more person-specific or more topic-related. YOU decide where to start and how to move forward.
If you do need help with this, I recommend the following:
1) Get my free "reading, thinking, writing" freebie right here on this page to delve deeper into the realm of lensing, thinking and writing.
2) Get the crisp, very understandable and enthusiastic introduction to philosophy. The philosophical backstairs: 34 great philosophers in everyday life and thinking (*) from Weischedel under the nail. If you do this via the marked affiliate link (*), I will receive a small commission (in the cent range) for my work on the thought nomad.
3) Take a look at more philosophy articles on my blog. As an introduction, perhaps something more practical from Russell about happiness would be fine. Or would you prefer Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics as harder fare? Perhaps even a life philosophy from Suzuki or another from Zippel, both of which have the potential to fundamentally change your perspective on the world?
Are you new to philosophy or already familiar with it? Which philosophical topics or thinkers have you already dealt with? What / who did you like and what / who didn't? What philosophical problems would you like to know more about?
Leave your questions and comments or whatever else is on your mind in the comments below this article. Above all, philosophy is also a discussion. So let's have a discussion here so that we can all move forward together!
see you soon,
Photo: Álvaro Serrano
Blog article published on: 1.1.2017,
updated on 6.1.2017
The philosophical backstairs: 34 great philosophers in everyday life and thinking (*)
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you in this form. I would like to comment on the question “What is the point of philosophy?”.
I want to start with point 5. I agree that philosophy can help you to be happy. However, it can also do a lot to make you unhappy. What do I mean by that? If a person realizes through intense reflection that everything in life is not going as it should be, this leads directly to reduced well-being. Good, that could be fixed. Thinking finally enables solutions to problems to be found. The committed thinker finally finds a solution - a theoretical one.
And now comes the supreme discipline. Putting theory into practice. The problem is usually that putting theory into practice involves work. Work that sometimes includes unpleasant arguments with other people. You are aware that the current situation is not ideal, but at the same time you would counteract a great deal of uncertainty by changing the situation. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. So it often remains with philosophizing. The implementation and the life of one's own knowledge remains behind. The fact that you know how it would be better coupled with the impotence to act increases the unhappiness. Philosophy or thinking makes you unhappy when you fail to be a law yourself.
My thoughts are based on experiences from professional and private life.reply
Thank you for your constructive comment. This is how I would imagine it to be here in the future. So to everyone else too: don't be too shy!
I want to answer in two steps:
1) I see your objection that philosophy can also make you unhappy. Especially when it shows us dead ends in our thinking, regardless of the area. And yet pure thinking is always a pleasure for me, because it challenges you, takes you along and leads you to new places, even if some of them are dead ends.
Maybe it also depends on what kind of person you are.
While some despair of superficiality and mainstream without depth and find a place of retreat in their thoughts that makes them happy, the problem with a "living person" is the other way around. The latter becomes unhappy when you tear him out of his worldly pleasures and let him think about life. When he suddenly realizes that all his joys are just distractions so that you don't have to ask yourself certain serious questions ...
I consider myself to be the first kind of person and therefore philosophy will probably always make me happy.
2) When thinking about a happy life (your comment is clearly in this area, i.e. ethics), in my opinion it must always be about implementation. It is well known that there have been ethicists who have laid out hundreds of pages how one should live, but who themselves have done exactly the opposite of it.
I think powerlessness and uncertainty are often excuses not to have to start making changes in order to be happy in the long run and deep inside. I am convinced that the path to happiness can begin with pain.
But what I find interesting about your comment is that you show this connection between theory and practice. Yes, this is often difficult to walk, sometimes unbridgeable, sometimes not wanted or considered at all.
One reason why I am so fascinated by Zen Buddhism, for example, is that it represents a “philosophy of life” that is also a practice at the same time.
An important upcoming blog article that I've been planning for a long time will revolve around this connection between theory and practice, including the connection between the brain and the heart. Sounds a bit esoteric now - and I know that you can use it to drive out some “real” philosophers - but I'm a little more open in this direction ...
I hope I was able to bring you interesting replies to your thoughts.
See you soon,
Hello Philipp, 7 x YES!
"Love and wisdom are two wings"
I'm already looking forward to your brain and heart article!
See you soon,
Thank you, he's sure to come.
See you soon,
“Philosophy does not find solutions, it asks questions. Your main task is to correct the questions. ”Slavoj Žižek, philosopher
Greetings from the Freethinker Gallery, exhibition "What is Philosophy?"reply
Also a good description. I've wanted to take a closer look at Mr. Zizek for a long time anyway ...reply
Hello Rainer, I am exactly of your opinion: Philosophy does not find solutions (never?), Only asks questions. But the search for answers is "crazy" fun!reply
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