The benefits of reading (or studying) philosophy

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When I am asked what I do for living and I answer that I am a philosophy teacher: usually I get rolled back eyes or some couple of seconds shock. These reactions are also followed by this question: do you read people’s minds? Can you analyze a person?

A philosopher is not a medium, nor a psychotherapist. Even the latter can’t objectively analyze a person from a glimpse. Let’s rewind and define philosophy and why it is needed urgently.

Philosophy is simple yet so difficult. It is a rational discipline that starts with astonishment which leads to questioning. The reason why I mentioned astonishment is because one is never able to question anything as long as everything seems normal. Questioning is critical thinking, bringing us all the way to conceptualization and redefinitions.

After this tiny introduction, here are the benefits of reading (or studying) philosophy:

  • Obviously, the first point would be critical thinking. Needless to say that the world today is chaotic due to bad managements and greed. Only rethinking the world, even as a solitary exercise, can broaden the horizon of thinking itself and open the mind to new possibilities.
  • Deep thinking and focusing on essentials or what matters the most
  • It makes us simultaneously more sensible and sensitive, capable of being affected by the abnormal.
  • It sharpens the eye and the mind so they become a radar to abnormalities (which are completely normal to others).
  • Philosophy is not only a theoretical discipline but it is practical also: for self-help, for ethics, for a better society and for a better human being.

Philosophy, like music, makes people smarter and braver. I haven’t read a philosopher who wasn’t brave enough to speak their minds and tell the truth, no matter where each one of them stood regarding the truth and other themes.

So are you to get a rolled back eyes reaction?

37 thoughts on “The benefits of reading (or studying) philosophy”

  1. That there be any individual benefits at all in reading philosophy is a moot point, and my conclusion is that this is why it should be compulsory reading at one stage or the other of one’s schooling. The most obvious answer to the question about what the benefits of reading philosophy are is, if we follow Heidegger, that there are none for the individual: He or she will be no worse a cog in the machine if he or she completely lacks philosophical culture (or even plain and simple culture, as philosophy is part of culture). Yet when one gets acquainted with culture and philosophy, one needs it as one needs oxygen. There are no benefits, only one more need, and this is of being a human in the full sense of the word. Were it not compulsory during one’s education to read philosophy and work on these readings, in most cases one would not wish to get acquainted with it, as, precisely, the benefits of it are immaterial on the monetary market that we tend to see as “our future” in this life. Even when compulsory at some point, philosophy is discarded by many when the subject is no longer required for grades (and for getting in the marketplace). One underlying reason may be that, as the Hungarian economist Tibor Scitovsky once put it, “culture is the occupation of the leisure class.” Where one’s vocation is to be a cog in the machine, philosophy has no place. That the activity of thinking should make some people roll their eyes is no surprise, as it comes as no surprise either that sometimes feathers fly when some wealthy bank manager hears his son telling him he wants a degree in philosophy or in other “humanities.” I stop here;

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    1. I totally agree with you but I think philosophy should be marketed in order to be read/learned. Philosophers never really market themselves because they are above this and I agree with them. However the world today functions with marketing. While some silly stuff are followed by millions, I don’t see why we should not market philosophy and make it (look) accessible

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      1. This is what happens already (philosophy is marketed) and I’ll tell you how this is done, from what I can see, in my place. There is this wealthy banker or industrialist of whom I talked; his son had his own way and studied philosophy instead of the business of trading bonds and securities. This son of his, not too brilliant as a matter of fact, has got his degree in philosophy anyway. What is he going to do? His daddy takes off the phone, calls the manager of the weekly newspaper that his bank or holding owns, and tells him or her: “I want a column for my son in your paper.” Aussitôt dit, aussitôt fait! A new “influencer” is born, an abortive mind of rabidly conservative tendencies. People who ask what the point of studying philosophy is, deserve no reply, or the reply of one’s shoulders shrugging. Truly. This is why among the few things I find good in my place is that philosophy is (well, not sure that I shouldn’t have to say “WAS”, in fact, must check) compulsory for all students at least a couple of years till the baccalauréat. What about your place?

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      2. Chez nous, tout le monde fait la philo pour passer le bac. Plus tard, une minorité étudie la philo et certains prennent des cours optionnels de philo.

        Je suis d’accord avec ce que vous dîtes mais ce genre d’influence existe sans le marketing de la philo, du moins chez nous. Tant qu’à faire, alors faisons la pub à la philo

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  2. Reblogged this on I can't believe it! and commented:
    I’ve always been drawn to philosophy, as the love of wisdom, read quite a few books over many years, but never been drawn to studying it in an academic way. This post by maylynno expresses well many of the benefits of reading or studying philosophy. In short, it makes us wiser.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Philosophy has played an important role in my life. I love the way you used “astonishment”. That is what I found….my beliefs being challenged and being forced to think for myself.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Why does it matter if people roll their eyes? If you’re proud of what you do that should be all that matters . I’m an English and philosophy undergrad. Sometimes I wonder though, if most of those skills I learned could be learned somewhere else. I mean, if they’re tools to assist me in my future (which is how I see my studies), can’t I get them from being curious about the world myself ?

    I also wonder what isn’t philosophy, since philosophy is so broad. What makes a sophist any less philosophical than a bona fide philosopher? And what if our incredibly biased inclinations are informing our social systems?

    It was, after all, John Locke who built arguments proving that non whites were subhuman and therefore God didn’t want them to have land.

    All of this being said, I still think philosophy is important and I’m glad that I had philosophy teachers in my life, but I expect that they’ll win every argument after 20 years of studying the discipline and in my experience that’s how it goes… But it doesn’t make them definitively correct. So what’s the difference between those guys and the sophists.

    I guess what I really think is that the best philosophy teachers in my life were actually the ones who rolled their eyes and told me my degree was bullshit, and then go on to explain their very nuanced interpretations of philosophy, politics and ethics. I don’t think anyone will like philosophy teachers. Socrates was put to death and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. I think philosophy is an action more than it is a description of someone’s identity.

    Sorry if this comment is coming on strong, your post just got me thinking (which is rare for me lol). I’m definitely going to sleep on it and keep thinking about it now that I’m at the tail end of my degree.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I loved your comment! I guess the difference between a sophist and a philosopher would be the intention: one wants to manipulated while the other wants to tell the truth. Honeslty i have always had this question in mind.
      I hope you enjoyed your philosophy classes and don’t care if people roll back their eyes. I sincerly find it funny.

      thank you for appreciating my posts and that you for your smart comment. Keep coming back plz !

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    2. Your comment was even more thought provoking ! I think that is the point of philosophy is to have these deep and meaningful conversations into the meaning of our existence, what matters and what doesn’t! It’s about being open minded and not so closed off to the philosophical experience of others.

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  5. Personally, I think there is no more satisfying feeling than enlarging the mind. Being enclosed within the intellectual and psychological limitations of the point where we are in life, it is impossible for us to even conceptualize what lies beyond these limits. Have you ever had the sudden feeling you get when a limitation that had hitherto existed crumbles upon a deep insight, permanently enlarging what you can see and understand, allowing you to see that a problem you had been caught in does not actually exist?
    This satisfaction needs no practical justification – it is love of life itself.
    For me, this is not limited to philosophy – it encompasses religion, spirituality, psychology, and history – but all of this is philosophy in the literal sense of the word – “love of wisdom”.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hey, I’m a new blogger, and I used to read your works before I started blogging. Thanks for being an inspiration. What you’re saying makes perfect sense, philosophy is imperative in both our perception and our questioning of the world.
    I’d request you to go check out my blog and critique it if you have the time. I’ve just written a little on how we identify ourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great piece, I am always perplexed at those who can’t see the value in philosophy.

    I think one of the issues however is that philosophy has moved away from ‘a way of life’ towards to a focus on semantics in a primarily academic and university setting.

    I am an admirer of those philosophical traditions which focus on cultivating practical wisdom which we can utilize to live ‘the good life’ (ie. the Stoics).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like philosophy in all its branches. But I keep asking myself when i read an article or a book: how this can help me being a better person or a happier one? This is where some types of philosophy fail to answer these questions. So as you said i like philosophy linked to a practical wisdom. thank you for visiting and commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Philosophy graduate here (among other things). It is a hard task explaining philosophy is a serious matter although philosophers can be witty and well, odd.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you for this wonderful post ! I love philosophy and always seek to be stimulated intellectually! I crave to know people and what makes them different. Philosophy is an expansive way to have deep thoughts and brings forth depth to the human genome!! Philosophy brings me passion for living!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Agree! Great Post. the problem nowadays is that people don’t think anymore. They take everything for granted and go along with the accepted dogma of their surroundings. Philosophers spent most of their time pondering about the most important question of all: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ According to the ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to “Know Thyself”, I wrote an article a while ago titled “Do you know Who you Are?” – Seems to be an easy question, but there is no easy answer – https://authorjoannereed.net/do-you-know-who-you-are/ – Feel Free to check it out! Sometimes, Philosophy can literally save one’s life?! Rene Descarte’s quote” I think therefore I am” literally saved the life of the folk singer Jewel – I wrote a post about this recently – https://authorjoannereed.net/jewel-kilcher-a-hidden-treasure/. Feel free to stop by!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your articles I will read them. Yes I totally agree with you: it is all about information and no critical thinking. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

      Like

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