Why Study Philosophy?
Since studying philosophy will not directly result in an ability to program a computer, manage a company, or diagnose and treat a disease, perhaps one might wonder why it is worth studying at all? The answer is simple. While the study of philosophy does not provide one with a particular set of "skills for a trade," the lifelong benefits it inculcates are virtually limitless. Here are just a few. The study of philosophy enhances one’s ability:
- To think, speak, and write clearly and critically,
- To communicate effectively,
- To form original, creative solutions to problems,
- To develop reasoned arguments for one’s views,
- To appreciate views different from one’s own,
- To analyze complex material, and
- To investigate difficult questions in a systematic fashion.
What should be clear, even from this brief list, is that studying philosophy develops abilities that are not only essential to almost any vocation, but instills qualities vital to one’s growth as a person. Moreover, for many students such qualities quite often produce practical benefits as well. For example, because studying philosophy improves one’s analytical skills, it affords a greater probability of success on standardized tests such as the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT.
Finally, studying philosophy is not merely useful for the benefits it bestows. It is also intrinsically worthwhile, since many of the issues with which philosophers grapple are fundamental to human existence. Is there a God? What is truth? What can we know? What is beauty? Wrestling with questions such as these and learning the history of responses to them enriches one’s life in way that no other discipline can.