Philosophy and Why it is Important

 
Philosophy and Why it is Important

Philosophy is a necessity for a rational being: philosophy is the foundation of science, the organizer of man’s mind, the integrator of his knowledge, the programmer of his subconscious, the selector of his values. – Ayn Rand

Philosophy is about very fundamental aspects of our existence, such as worldview, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. These are universal elements that no human being is able to escape.

Few people have a conscious relationship to philosophy, and probably think that it seems far removed from their own daily life, complicated and even useless. Still, every individual benefits from taking an observant look at what philosophy is and how it affects us.

Our Operating System

Every single person has an «operating system» that determines how they think about the world, themselves, and others, whether they want it or not. For example, most believe that it is wrong to steal or kill, and this is related to ethics – one component in philosophy. Philosophy is divided into the following hierarchy, where each part is dictated by the foregoing part:

  1. Metaphysics (the study of reality)
  2. Epistemology (the study of how we gain knowledge)
  3. Ethics (the study of values)
  4. Politics (the study of social organization)
  5. Esthetics (the study of art, contingent on the first three points)

What is right and wrong? Is it possible to gain accurate knowledge about the world? How can you get a good life? How should you act toward other people? Such questions are at the core of our own operating system. As we go about our lives each day, relating to the world and other people, we must, consciously or subconsciously, make up our minds about such questions, as we make choices.

If you become aware that you have this framework, you will have a better chance of confronting yourself and discovering why society and culture are the way they are, what might be done about it, and how you can have a better life.

Ideas Govern the World

Thoughts of a philosophical nature have always existed, and integrated set of such ideas about the way society should be organized are called ideologies. In other words, ideologies are complete «laundry lists» guiding the actions of most people. In Norway, for example, the ideology of social democracy is strong, and therefore most Norwegians, whether they realize it or not, are social democrats. All ideologies and religions, be they socialism or capitalism, Islam, or Buddhism, must employ philosophy as foundation.

Once you realize this and begin to explore what i.e. social democracy fundamentally involves, or if you perhaps begin to explore options, you will probably develop a more critical attitude to politics, ethics, dissemination of knowledge, and so on. You may even start to challenge established conventions and traditional systems when you realize that the world does not necessarily have to be the way it is.

Ideas govern the world, and with ideas we can change it.

Summary

  • Philosophy is like an operating system and determines how you think, react, and relate to reality
  • Ideas govern politics
  • Being aware of this can give you a more critical attitude about what is going on
  • When you are critical, you may try to change yourself and the world for the better

Resources

 
 

Thirsty for more knowledge?

Read about ideology, practical politics, rights, law, economics, and philosophy in our knowledge base.

Read more