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Philosophy Is Hard, but Essential to Best Know Reality

Brett Nichols

Posted on July 4, 2020 21:26

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Taking philosophy classes over the last four years has made me realize that while it is heavy mind work, as a discipline it entails learning the very foundations of how we think. Thus, it is crucial for us to dedicate at least some of our time to what it can teach us.

One semester in 2017 when I was only a few credits away from graduating with my Bachelor’s degree, I felt compelled to pick up an introductory philosophy class to satisfy some of my last few elective credits. I thought it was going to be one of the smoothest semesters I had ever had, as most of my other classes were just enriching the knowledge I had already gained from my core classes.

Boy, was I wrong.

That one philosophy class alone made it one of the most mind-bending semesters I've ever had. Whereat the time I didn't appreciate it in the slightest, I wouldn't have had it any other way. My understanding of the world has been changed by that class and the many other subsequent classes I took afterward and that knowledge is truly priceless, especially in such a time as 2020.  

To not go into heady detail, the study of philosophy teaches its learners, amongst many other things, how to understand how ideas and beliefs are obtained and how these beliefs become the very lens that people see the world, and whether one's views are justified true beliefs or unsound under the light of scrutiny. It teaches that a considerable amount of our beliefs are based upon both A priori reasoning (that is, the concepts first established within our minds), and A posteriori reasoning (reasoning that is based upon observation and analysis).

The idea of which type of reasoning is predominant was debated far back in the B.C.'s and is still heavily debated today in philosophical circles and even in our everyday conversations (even when we don't even realize). Philosophy also teaches us how we can challenge our own beliefs in a similar way, allowing users to apply logic and critical thinking to both our own values and to life itself.

If this type of rationale sounds familiar, few seem to know this but these ideas are the very foundations that the modern establishment of science is based upon. In fact, prior to the classification "science," the study of the natural world was delegated to the sub-discipline of philosophy called "natural philosophy." Before we had the scientists we have today, we had natural philosophers like Aristotle and Galileo, the former analyzing change within reality and the latter observing the rotation of the planets. Both of them contributed invaluable elements to the sciences, including Aristotelian logic, early concepts of geology, biology, and physics, and a heliocentric galaxy to name a few. 

With all of this being said, philosophy is deeply ingrained within the culture, its history, and the academic systems we see within universities. It can definitely be said that studying philosophy is no easy task to most, however, being able to have the intellectual tools that philosophy provides is priceless. I can tell you that I have chosen my battles more wisely thanks to philosophical study and would implore those who have steered clear of philosophy to give it another go. 

Brett Nichols

Posted on July 4, 2020 21:26

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