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  • The Value of Studying Philosophy:

    "The great virtue of philosophy is that it teaches not what to think, but how to think. It is the study of meaning, of the principles underlying conduct, thought and knowledge. The skills it hones are the ability to analyze, to question orthodoxies and to express things clearly. However arcane some philosophical texts may be…the ability to formulate questions and follow arguments is the essence of education." The Times of London (August 15, 1998)

    This editorial captures the value of the study of philosophy and goes on to comment that “Philosophy is, in commercial jargon, the ultimate ‘transferable work skill.’” The U.S. Department of Labor indicates that today’s college student can expect to make a major change in career at least two or three times and probably work in a dozen different job placements. Employers and professional schools place a high value on candidates with well-rounded undergraduate preparation and the ability to be a “lifelong learner.”

    Philosophy and the liberal arts not only provide an inquiry into every dimension of human life, but they teach techniques that can be applied to problems in any field or endeavor. The ability to systematically question relationships between fields of study, one’s personally held beliefs, and worldview is significant and should serve to deepen an understanding of the meaning of human existence.

    Thinking about the study of philosophy

    Some might say that the study of Philosophy is “up in the clouds thinking” that only deals with broad general questions. Although it deals with the big questions such as the meaning of life and absolute rights and wrongs, it also focuses on the general-practical questions of everyday life such as the following:

    • How should we understand and protect ourselves from the deceptive practices of others?
    • What practices produce a just society?
    • Is our society the type of society we desire and how can it be maintained or improved?
    • What is quality of life?
    • How do I wish to live a good life?

    An understanding of these types of questions then produces a clearer understanding of the special circumstance issues that life provides. For example, in the medical arena:

    • When should a family member’s life support be terminated?
    • Whether to have or perform an abortion.
    • How to assist someone with a dangerous addiction.
    • When to donate a kidney or other organ.
    • To buy or not buy health insurance.
    • To practice a wellness lifestyle.