By Ru Benhamou, Features Editor
Many seem to believe the field of philosophy is pointless nonsense that has no practical meaning or application. One can forever go in circles trying to understand just a singular concept or phenomenon that even famous philosophers have never been able to solve. What then is the point of studying philosophy? Can’t science tell us all we need to know about human life and existence? Why do people choose to study philosophy in college or even pursue higher education in this field? I can only answer this question with what the realms of philosophy have given to me. Besides a childlike curiosity and awe of the universe, it has also provided me with three great skills I use to guide my daily life.
The first of these skills is the impactful tool of thinking and analyzing critically and logically. These analytical skills and processes which I utilize to comprehend different philosophical arguments and ideologies translate into all things I read and learn. Whether in science or literature courses, or even Judaic studies, I find myself applying the same logical structures and codes I use to decipher philosophy to these fields as well. The numerous patterns of rational thought allow me to approach a topic with a multifaceted lens, one I have gained only through my study of physical texts. To approach a subject as purely and objectively as possible has allowed me to devise well thought out and nuanced responses to the different questions posed in each area.
The second practical application I have developed from my study of philosophy is the ability to define or categorize terms and apply them in concrete forms of argumentations. Philosophy has given me the skill and integrity to argue effectively both inside and outside of a classroom setting. It has taught me the importance of defining terms properly and wholefully in order to thoroughly understand the way we live and conduct our lives. With detailed terminology, I can fashion valid arguments that convey and affirm my opinions and ideologies as soundly as possible, making them difficult to refute. An unintended consequence of creating rational systems of argumentation, however, is that it allows you to notice the subtleties of other people’s speech as well as the legitimacy of their claims. Through this refined viewpoint, one can assess how truthful or correct another is and detect if they are being deceived in any manner. With this tool, one is equally capable of being the deceiver or knowing they are being deceived.
The last tool that philosophy has given me is the joy and humility of obtaining knowledge for the sole pursuit and sake of knowledge. In this day and age, especially among college students, it seems as though everything is “for the grade” or “the GPA.” When was the last time you picked up a good book and read it of your own volition, not as a part of a school assignment? I bet it has been a while. Studying philosophy has given me this impassioned joy to just learn for the sake of learning and acquiring new ideas and perspectives. To gain a passion and love for something that never expires, something that will make you a lifelong learner, is truly priceless. These three tools are what I believe to be a few compelling reasons as to why philosophy is so impactful, and why it continues to thrive and prosper in the academic world.
My urge to you is that, at least once during your college career, you enroll in a philosophy course. Whether it is for a general requirement or an elective, allow the words of the gifted thinkers of both past and present to permeate your mind for it will instill in you the greatest tools to enrich your life, and open your eyes to a newfound awe and wonder of the world. I assure you, you won’t regret it.