Why Is Philosophy Important?


Often times when I tell people that my major is philosophy I am met with a confused stare followed by a series of questions asking why and of what use philosophy will be. Many have made jokes about my choice of major and not taken it or myself seriously. This response and the lack of outreach within the field has prompted me to want to show people why philosophy is important.

Those are the words of third-year college student Zoe Wolfe, who is majoring in philosophy at the University of Florida. She continues:

I am very passionate about philosophy. When I took my first philosophy class I found what I would later refer to as “my thing”… Philosophy has been something that I have grown a large appreciation for over time because I have immersed myself in the curriculum and the ideas. I find it most valuable because it has taught me how to think… However, I know few people with this experience because philosophy majors are so few. Instead, I know many people who have only taken a single philosophy class and who found the class challenging and of little use to their every day lives. Discouraging as this may be I have remained absolute in my resolve to study philosophy.

Ms. Wolfe is planning on starting a podcast about the value of philosophy and to explore different answers to the question, “Why is philosophy important?” She wrote to me to ask if I could pose that question to all of you.

That’s a big question to which it is tempting to reply at length, but I think what would be most helpful at this stage is a large number of relatively brief answers to it; you could put an answer in a sentence or two if you’d like—perhaps it’s just part of your answer, or one of your answers. Don’t worry, we won’t assume your blog comment represents the entirety of your view. (I’ll put an answer in the comments.)

If you use your real name, Ms. Wolfe might follow up with you for more detail for her podcast. Thanks.

(Also, see the in-need-of-some-updates Value of Philosophy Pages.)

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