Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, June 16, 2014

What is Philosophy – and what’s it for?

"People are understandably confused about what philosophy is. From a distance, it seems weird, irrelevant, boring and yet also – just a little – intriguing. But it’s hard to put a finger on what the interest really is. What are philosophers? What do they do? And why does one need them?



Luckily, the answer is already contained in the word philosophy itself. In Greek, philo means love – or devotion – and sophia means wisdom. Philosophers are people devoted to wisdom.

Though a rather abstract term, the concept of ‘wisdom’ isn’t mysterious. Being wise means attempting to live and die well, leading as good a life as possible within the troubled conditions of existence. The goal of wisdom is fulfilment. You could perhaps say ‘happiness’ but ‘happiness’ is misleading, for it suggests continuous chirpiness and joy, whereas ‘fulfilment’ seems compatible with a lot of pain and suffering, which every decent life must by necessity have.



So a philosopher or ‘person devoted to wisdom’ is someone who strives for systematic expertise at working out how one may best find individual and collective fulfilment.

In their pursuit of wisdom, philosophers have developed a very specific skill-set. They have, over the centuries, become experts in many of the general, large things that make people not very wise. Six central ones have been identified..."



What is Philosophy – and what’s it for?

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