Regardless of your degree or career path, there is a subject that is directly applicable to your daily life and it’s probably something you’ve already used; you’ve probably used it this very day. This grand topic you’ll want to invest some time in is philosophy.
Philosophy is not so much concerned with answers as it is with questions. This field aims to look at many kinds of questions, especially big ones like “Is the world real?” “Are you obligated to love your family or any other person for that matter?” or “If you get the right answer by accident, do you deserve recognition for that right choice?” Philosophers aren’t particularly interested in answering definitively any of these questions, because that’s not the point of philosophy. Philosophy is about forming ways of thinking about the world.
We’ve already defined philosophy as a field, but what makes up philosophy? Like most areas, there are subdivisions of philosophy concerned with different areas. This is so philosophers can organize information and engage with others interested in the same topic. Some more prominent branches of philosophy include metaphysics (the study of reality itself), epistemology (the study of knowledge), and value theory (the study of value). Value theory can be further broken up into ethics (the study of morality and human conduct), and aesthetics (the study of beauty and art).
You might be asking yourself how philosophy and its various disciplines can apply to your life. Philosophy is something you have already done. Every time you make one decision over another you are doing philosophy on a small scale. When you decide, you are examining your place in the world and how your actions and choices might have consequences, even if that examination is subconscious. Leveling up in philosophy to more conscious effort can be beneficial to you because you end up examining things in greater detail.
One of the most important principles in philosophy is that nothing is automatically on the table from the start. Much like one of the most influential figures in philosophy, René Descartes, we must upturn the ideas we have and deconstruct them, or at least the ideas we want to examine through a philosophical lens. This might be a tough sell for some because there are all closely held beliefs that we have. However, the benefit of having absolute justification for your beliefs that hold up to logic, the philosopher’s strongest tool, is worth the temporary discomfort of setting your beliefs aside.
There are plenty of excellent resources out there to get started on this learning journey. Some online resources include two YouTube channels, “Crash Course” and “Philosophy Tube.” “Crash Course” has a multitude of educational videos, but their series on philosophy is excellent for anyone wanting to break into this area. “Philosophy Tube” was started seven years ago by actress Abigail Thorn after the United Kingdom increased costs on students for college courses. Thorn wanted to give out the knowledge she earned from her degree so that everyone could learn about philosophy. Her channel features theatrical presentations on big questions for society including capital punishment, monopolies, and political philosophy.
Engaging in philosophy can enrich your daily life and career field and make you a more well-rounded and empathetic citizen of the world. Happy thinking!