Why Philosophy is important...........
--By: Maarten Maartensz
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Why should a human being be interested in philosophy? Isn't philosophy fit for fools only, or isn't it a merely academic trifling and hairsplitting in search of unobtainable knowledge?
Or isn't philosophy mostly a set of false illusions from the past - sophistries designed to comfort one's desires by wishful thinking and presumption - that these days have been replaced by science and mathematics?
I can be fairly brief about why philosophy ought to be studied in some
sense and why the opinion that it is useless trifling, hair-splitting or in search of unobtainable knowledge is inappropriate.
More specifically, philosophy is concerned with such problems as raised by:
· logic: what are the foundations and principles of sound reasoning
· science: what are the foundations of our scientific and technological knowledge
· language: what does language have to do with human thought
· meaning: what is meaning and how do we succeed in representing one thing by another
· ethics: what are the foundations of the judgments that acts or the men who commit them are good or bad, and in what sense are such judgments true or different from mere matters of taste
· aesthetics: what makes beautiful things appear beautiful or ugly, and what is the use of having an aesthetical capacity
· self: whether there is a self, and if so, what it is and what is its foundation, or, if not, what is the reason for this popular delusion
· free will: whether human beings are in any sense free to act as they please and responsible for the consequences, or only determined to falsely believe they are free to believe as they please
· death: whether death indeed is final, what is the point of fearing something one will never experience, and whether there is anything else than self-contradiction in the belief in a life or a judgment after death
· happiness: what is happiness; how does one find it; and why should one look for it, especially if everyone seems naturally to know what feels good and what does not feel good
· the good life: what a human individual should and should not do, believe and desire to lead a good life
· the good society: what relations between human individuals contribute to the good life
That many of the questions properly raised within philosophy so-called in earlier days are now raised and answered by special sciences is true - and changes nothing about the fact that human beings are such as to lead themselves by general ideas and values, and that one of the tasks that remains philosophical, however many of earlier philosophical questions have now turned into problems of some specific science, is to try to integrate whatever specialized knowledge different sciences produce into one comprehensive view of reality and humanity.
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