Many students ask themselves, “What is philosophy and why should I care?” To put it simply, philosophy can enhance, or even change, your life.
On my first day at VSU I, like many other freshman, entered my first class not knowing what to expect. The name of the course I took was Fundamentals of Philosophy. Immediately, I knew that philosophy was what I wanted to major in. However, when I told the news to my mother, a schoolteacher, she did not share the same enthusiasm. Like the reaction I get from most people, she said, “What can you do with that?” “Anything,” I said.
Later, I discovered that the teachers in her school system had been instructed to implement a new factor in their teachings: stimulating the students’ creative thinking skills by having them “think outside the box.”
A fundamental part of philosophy is that it teaches you to take a different approach from traditional methods of thinking and problem-solving, and it allows you to look at something from several different directions.
Serving as the basis of many subjects, studying philosophy also helps you to improve in your other classes by forming skills in logic, essay writing, creative thinking, and other areas. In fact, many universities offer philosophy courses that are coordinated with other subjects because of this reason.
“[Philosophy] is a way of thinking as critically as one can, clarifying ideas, evaluating arguments, avoiding fallacies in reasoning,” Dr. Jim Hill, VSU philosophy professor said.
These same skills can also help you to debate that one person in every class who always speaks out loudly and thinks they have the right answer to everything. In studying philosophy, you will find that you can refute that obnoxious student’s opinion with a factual claim that cannot be disproved.
Just because you major in philosophy doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get a career in philosophy or teaching. As we grow older and become more rational, we tend to form a narrow idea of success as well as a narrow way of thinking. We are told that once you graduate from high school, you go on to college and major in something practical in order to get a well paying job and become successful. As Hill said, “Before I became a philosopher in disguise… I actually worked for a living.”
However, when we are kids, we are told to believe we can grow up to do anything. Some kids want to be doctors or lawyers, and some kids want to become magicians or actors. Philosophy can bring success to any of these careers and careers like them; a philosophical way of thinking can improve your approach to your latest trick, or your approach to create your character.