The value of philosophy

The only thing I can be certain of its existence and even this not fully is that exist. This is what the great philosopher Rene Descartes meant when he said I think therefore I am.

In his book the Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell says this about the man who does not like philosophy

the man who has no tincture for philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from habitual beliefs of his age or his nation and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason.

He continues to say

to such a man, the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects raise no questions and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected.

While admitting that philosophy is unable to provide us with some of the answers to the questions we seek, he has this to say

philosophy is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from tyranny of custom.

In this way

it greatly increases our knowledge as to what maybe; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.

In conclusion therefore,

philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can as a rule be known to be true but rather for the sake of the questions themselves, because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

6 thoughts on “The value of philosophy

  1. Well, that rules religion out from the start. LOL
    Why do theists think that new atheism is the problem for them? Oh, wait. My bad. I keep thinking they have an interest in factual history.


  2. new template? Looks nice. I like this quote about philosophy about having worth in just expanding the mind. I generally don’t like most discussions about philosophy since I have philsophical feet of clay, I’m about as concrete as it gets. Most philosophy strikes me as navel gazing, especially when people get wrapped up too much in the “what ifs” mostly those that have been shown to be not supported by reality.


    • makagutu says:

      Thanks, I like the template too 😀

      There are people who get involved in endless what ifs which almost becomes absurd.

      I find philosophy interesting for the simple reason that I can ask why and also ask when is it important to ask why?

      And you don’t do too badly yourself when you deal with philosophical questions on your site and elsewhere I see you comment 🙂


  3. Tabitha Cunningham says:

    I liked this quote from Yale Prof. Steven B. Smith:
    “The good human being, it would seem, would be a philosopher, or at least would have something philosophical about him or her, and who may only be fully at home in the best regime. But of course the best regime lacks actuality. We all know that. It has never existed. The best regime embodies a supreme paradox, it would seem. It is superior in some ways to all actual regimes, but it has no concrete existence anywhere. This makes it difficult, you could say and this is Aristotle’s point, I think, this makes it difficult for the philosopher to be a good citizen of any actual regime. Philosophy will never feel fully or truly at home in any particular society. The philosopher can never be truly loyal to anyone or anything but what is best. Think of that: it raises a question about issues of love, loyalty, and friendship.”


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