What is Philosophy for?

From a distance, philosophy seems weird, irrelevant,
boring… and yet also – just a little – intriguing. But what are philosophers really for? The answer is, handily, already contained
in the word philosophy itself. In Ancient Greek, philo means love
and sophia means wisdom. Philosophers are people devoted to wisdom. Being wise means attempting to live and die well. In their pursuit of wisdom, philosophers have
developed a very specific skill-set. They have, over the centuries,
become experts in many of the things that make people not very
wise. Five stand out: There are lots of big questions around: What
is the meaning of life? What’s a job for? How should society be arranged? Most of us entertain them every now and then,
but we despair of trying to answer them. They have the status of jokes.
We call them ‘pretentious’. But they matter deeply because
only with sound answers to them can we direct our energies meaningfully. Philosophers are people unafraid of asking
questions. They have, over the centuries, asked the very largest. They
realise that these questions can always be broken down into more
manageable chunks and that the only really pretentious thing is
to think one is above raising big naive-sounding enquiries. Public opinion – or what gets called ‘common
sense’ – is sensible and reasonable in countless areas. It’s what
you hear about from friends and neighbours, the stuff you take in without
even thinking about it. But common sense is also often full of daftness
and error. Philosophy gets us to submit all aspects of
common sense to reason. It wants us to think for ourselves. Is it really
true what people say about love, money, children, travel, work?
Philosophers are interested in asking whether an idea is logical – rather
than simply assuming it must be right because it is popular and long-established. We’re not very good at knowing what goes
on in our own minds. Someone we meet is very annoying, but we can’t pin down what the issue is. Or we lose our temper, but can’t readily tell what we’re so cross about. We lack insight into our own satisfactions
and dislikes. That’s why we need to examine our own minds.
Philosophy is committed to self-knowledge – and its central precept
– articulated by the earliest, greatest philosopher, Socrates – is
just two words long: Know yourself. We’re not very good at making ourselves
happy. We overrate the power of some things to improve our lives – and
underrate others. We make the wrong choices because, guided by advertising and false glamour, we keep on imagining that a particular kind of holiday, or car, or computer will make a bigger difference than it can. At the same time, we underestimate the contribution
of other things – like going for a walk – which may have little
prestige but can contribute deeply to the character of existence. Philosophers seek to be wise by getting more
precise about the activities and attitudes that really can help
our lives to go better. Philosophers are good at keeping a sense of
what really matters and what doesn’t. On hearing the news that he’d
lost all his possessions in a shipwreck, the Stoic philosopher Zeno
simply said: ‘Fortune commands me to be a less encumbered philosopher.’ It’s responses like these that have made the very term ‘philosophical’

a byword for calm, long-term thinking and strength-of-mind, in
short, for perspective. The wisdom of philosophy is – in modern
times – mostly delivered in the form of books. But in the past, philosophers
sat in market squares and discussed their ideas with shopkeepers
or went into government offices and palaces to give advice. It wasn’t
abnormal to have a philosopher on the payroll. Philosophy was
thought of as a normal, basic activity – rather than as an unusual,
esoteric, optional extra. Nowadays, it’s not so much that we overtly
deny this thought but we just don’t have the right institutions set
up to promulgate wisdom coherently in the world. In the future, though,
when the value of philosophy is a little clearer, we can expect
to meet more philosophers in daily life. They won’t be
locked up, living mainly in university departments, because the points
at which our unwisdom bites – and messes up our lives – are multiple
and urgently need attention – right now.

100 thoughts on “What is Philosophy for?

  1. Could you make a video about philosophy at university / wether studying philosophy at university could be damaging or beneficial? I'd love to hear your opinion on it. I've just applied to philosophy at university but I just feel like how philosophy is taught isn't really about loving wisdom but rather about fulling your brain with what philosophers once said…

  2. Comment section is a bunch of wannabe scholars with inflated egos circle jerking, but the videos themselves are amazing.
    I can't believe they don't have as many views as Vsauce or similar channels. Subbed so hard.

  3. Know yourself. I found myself liking people who I thought I should loathe and despise people I thought I should love. I realized it was their ideas that determined whether or not I found the person appealing.

  4. Firstly, i learned that like a philosopher, I must not fear to ask big questions. Though I will attain uncertain answers, this will challenge what I know to be true, however it may give me a sense of enlightenment for opening myself up to what I don’t know, and being humble enough to accept this. Next, in relation to challenging “what I know to be true”, I recognized my tendency to be shackled by what is “common sense” or accepted truths that one usually does not dare to question, making it a habitual judgement. I learned that philosophy aims to bring out my ability to think critically. Thirdly, I learned that it is essential to take time in contemplating my own thoughts, and thought process; what it’s influenced by, how and why it is influenced. Philosophy teaches us that perhaps, knowing myself is enough. Furthermore, the way that the video shines light on materialistic and falsely perceived happiness reminds me to never underestimate the happiness brought about by what was not constructed for me. Lastly, with what is recorded on texts and history about philosophers, we must make do of, meanwhile, looking forward to a world where we rid of the prejudices, and the stigma towards philosophers; a world where we pay attention to the questions instead of giving such value to the answers we perceived to be obvious. I do believe that like philosophers, we must also be on the pursuit for wisdom, yearning to live well and to die well.

  5. I think philosofy today isn't undervalued – if that word even exists – it just so happens that everyone has philosophy as a part of their education in school, thus it isnt needed an expert in filosofy. Everyone has the basics of it. I'm not saying that that's enough,and even if it is, is enough enough ? What I want to say is the reason philosophy isnt seen as it was in the ancient greece.

  6. I enjoyed my philosophy degree so much, that I feel like doing it all over. Possibly the best time I had intellectually.

  7. I would love very much to question the world and its workings with people, but no one I try to talk to seems to be interested. They often don't want to leave their man made realm of perceived normality and its perceived certainty. Its frustrating because I only have myself to converse with. I would love to share my ideas and the ideas of others I have learned from, either through reading, observing, or watching videos such as this one, and consider these thoughts, dissect and attempt to create coherent reason with them, only to pick apart the conclusion that we might draw and restart the process to find perfection in exsistence. Consider everything in an attempt to find the path to happiness, and then question why and what is happiness, to perfect the human life and bring true fulfillment to it.

  8. i wanted to be a psychologist but im having a hard time understanding philosophy but im trying my best to to understand more and widen my knowledge /sighs

  9. Philosophy is the ability to question your own thinking, and also expand on the philosophers thoughts that came before you.

  10. My opinion as a philosopher is that philosophy is the vault where you put all questions that cant be aswered by science or other disciplines. The problem is that that vault is getting empty. Sciences are solving the questions for long time attributed to philosophy, for example, how to be happy, what is love, how to control our moods, whats the mind, etc. And the possible remaining questions would be either imposible to answer or senseless or doesnt have an objective answer. Some of those questions are important, but philosophy is not an authority on them, philosophy is not a science its just mere speculation, opinion. If the question is for example, what is the purpose of life, and your opinion is: to be happy, sciences (psychology mainly) would tell you what is happiness and how to get it. We can answer those kind of questions conventionaly or democraticaly too, just ask the community how they want to live. But philosophy doesnt yield any knowledge. Thats why I think philosophy should not be a career. I love this channel by the way.

  11. Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems , concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, logic and language. It is the rational investigation of the truths and principles.

    There are two main reasons people study philosophy. The first is simple curiosity, and the love of wisdom.
    Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. Meaning , Philosophy comes from our consciousness , When the people started become curious about everything in this world . We started to questioning, like What, Who , and How. That is why religion , science , and beliefs exist because of our thoughts , or consciousness. If you think deeply , everything in this world like, innovation ,technology , and inventions starts with a questions , questions that originated from our thoughts , questions that may answer a problem . Without our consciousness no one will exist ,our society will not gonna move and grow .

    Philosophy addresses problems and questions , that arise in all areas of human thought and experience , and in all disciplines. What does it mean? Meaning if someone invent and create, or initiate something, a new questions will arise , This is why I love Philosophy, because it is the balance of everything, and no one wins . I think, therefore something exist 🙂

  12. I love philosophy, but there's only one important question and that question is: what matters?

    Nothing matters, there are just wants and desires. Life has no value over death. Life just is.

  13. Divine Inspiration
    Fri 23 Feb 2018
    Key Text: Hebrews 12:5 KJV – And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.

    Would one blame the sheep that is going astray when the Shepherd of the sheep has gone astray himself? How could one give counsel when he himself has no Counselor? Majority of the believers have become wayward for lack of the genuine Word of God. No one wants to be chastised because chastisement is never part of them. Many Christians have become like children without parental care. It's now very difficult to differentiate between a prostitute from a chorister. What a shame! Matthew 15:14 KJV

    The Blind Leading The Blind: It's not surprising to see so many churches going the way they are. What would a mother that lacked home training offer to her children? Today, majority of the church leaders are not concerned about Jesus Christ and the pain He went through to save humanity. Some so-called men of God were never born again not to talk of having disciplinary training from the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 9:16 KJV

    What Heaven Are You Going To? So many believers are expecting Jesus Christ to rapture them in their worldliness. They are okay with the commendation of their pastors who have settled for the passing away riches of this earth. Many believers don't care about what the Word of God says or what the Holy Spirit is saying as long as their pastors are okay with them. Note, Satan is expecting more than ninety eight percent of Christians in hellfire; the choice is yours to make. Isaiah 42:18 KJV

    Prayer: O Lord, lead me to a Shepherd who is a sheep to you; that would lead me in the way you are leading him; in Jesus Christ mighty name; amen.

    Reflection: And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? Luke 6:39 KJV

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  14. From reading every comment I, believe philosophy would help people if they feel like questioning everything from life, knowledge, religious faith, morality, and reality. But today many ignore such questioning nature as if modern technology will solve everything. I would love to be a philosopher and teach other's It is better to be rational, thinking logically and maintain knowledge within myself

  15. The philosophy is very excited.. I like to study about Sartre and Nietzsche, despite being difficult a lot.

  16. true philosophy is the science of all sciences .with it you may get and be anything you want. it seems just unbeleivable even foolish or insane even .first you must start with guidance from a special school whose lineage goes back to the times of greek philosophers .you must learn the laws and principles that rule the universe the world society and your own mind studying matter energies soul mind life death ETERNITY infinite and see and discover their interactions and connections .it is a fascinating trip into greater realities and of course you will get a glimpse of the immensity beauty power intelligence of that great universal mind that we may call GOD !!!

  17. Hopefully, it can lead me to have a more critical thinking in my life pathway. I'm studying anthropology and philosophy, the latter as a second major, and for sure it will expand my notions that will help me complement the other. I'm glad for choosing these two!

  18. We really need the public space like the markets in ancient greek for philosophy. So has become a part of psychology. But it should be something public, a public daily acivity. To discuss, to think, to reflect … it would be so healthy and would get the speed down of our lifes.

  19. The main subject of philosophy: to know yourself(not in the positivist knowing but to understand, familiar with yourself) in turkish we call this: “Kendine asina olmak.”

  20. Some things only come from the Spirit of God and some things are none of your business. In addition we will never understand everything. You should be focusing on yourself and where you're going to spend eternity

  21. The most essential or important fields in philosophy is metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of religion. Question like: "what is the meaning of life" or "is there objective morality which is known as moral realism) is very much based on all areas, but primarily on the philosophy of religion. Here is the issue: without life being purposely created or caused, there is no such thing as a purpose or meaning in life. No matter what subjective opinions or ways of looking life you have, the problem lies on the idea, of what can be objectivily said to be true or false. What i would recommend for this manner is the opus called: The Blackwell Companion To Natural Theology.

  22. Philosophy can lead you to nihilism and you simply have no reason to assume that killing your neighbour is wrong and thus you become an antichrist figure, but on the otherhand it can lead you finding yourself as an theist or something opposite of nihilism who has reason for assuming that something is meaningful or purposeful at the first place (like your life has meaning or that morality exists as an objective thing)

  23. Philosophy is wrong. They assume too much. Some things can't be reverse engineered, or forecast. Much less categorized & as understood as philosophy follows think things always are.

  24. I miss old greece. imagine going to a shop in the morning and stumbling upon socrates sitting in the street just waiting to engage in a conversation. nowadays i cant have a philosophical discussion without a proper set up and a good deal of alcohol

  25. “Know thyself “ antedates Socrates as it was a Delphic Precept written on the wall of the Temple of Apollo centuries before Socrates …Get your facts straight ,

  26. Wait, and mind you i'm not being sarcastic, but normal people don't ask big questions? I thought that is what drove motivation and curiosity! I guess I was wrong…

  27. from all off the shelf philosophy….none really conclude what the truth of life is and what happens afterwards , and what really is the purpose of our existence and learning . all are self centred narcissists on pedestals to be admired , apart from Diogenes . He lived his experiences than write about it all … was reaching his truth on it !

  28. I agree that there is an urgency in promoting the public to study philosophy and other humanity majors. I am an architect myself, and the popular architects are so much worse than the popular architects in the eighties. I could feel that the people are more materialistic and simply stupid intellectually.

  29. You are describing wisdom philosophy, which has not been popular in over a century. One in five Americans insists the sun revolves around the earth, and you don't need a weatherman to know the boob tube was left on too long, when half of them make up their own definitions for words, never suspecting or caring that the dictionary merely contains popular definitions. The question is not why philosophy is unpopular, but why does society frown so much on sharing their words and playing nice.

  30. One thing I've learn from philosophy is always question yourself. Even when you think you have all the answers.

  31. We don't ask big questions?….Whoever made this has never read any of my notes..Philosophers ask really BIG questions.

  32. Or as Karl Marx put it:

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point however, is to change it.

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