The man who has no tincture of philosophy goesthrough life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, andfrom convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason.
Apart from its utility in showing unsuspected possibilities, philosophy has a value -- perhaps its chief value -- through thegreatness of the objects which it contemplates, and the freedom from narrow and personal aims resulting from thiscontemplation.
Honor, discipline, integrity, and honesty are just a few of the most important values that a human being can possess in modern society. Throughout his childhood, a younger brother may at times resent his older brother for playful bullying or roughhousing (what brothers don’t do that as children?), but with the guiding hands of responsible parents, they will learn to respect each other. Respect, as we all know, is an incredibly powerful value that they can learn from each other.
It is exclusively among the goods of the mind that the value of philosophy is to be found;and only those who are not indifferent to these goods can be persuaded that the study of philosophy is not a waste of time.
Another example is the honesty that comes from brotherhood. If one sibling breaks a vase in a household, his first instinct may be to blame the other. But once realizing the damage this dishonesty does to his relationship with his brother, he quickly learns that “the truth will set you free”. Honor and discipline can best be learned from a sibling when, later in life, they truly begin to depend on each other. Each brother will do all in their power to uphold that dependence and not let the other one down. All these values will serve the brothers in school, work, and all other relationships they will ever have.
Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answersto its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questionsthemselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminishthe dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universewhich philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe whichconstitutes its highest good.
This view, if ourprevious discussions were correct, is untrue; but in addition to being untrue, it has the effect of robbing philosophiccontemplation of all that gives it value, since it fetters contemplation to Self.
The life of the instinctive man is shut up within the circle of his private interests: family and friends may beincluded, but the outer world is not regarded except as it may help or hinder what comes within the circle of instinctive wishes.
Hence, once more, the value of philosophy must not depend upon any supposed body of definitely ascertainable knowledge tobe acquired by those who study it.
Hence also the free intellect will valuemore the abstract and universal knowledge into which the accidents of private history do not enter, than the knowledgebrought by the senses, and dependent, as such knowledge must be, upon an exclusive and personal point of view and a bodywhose sense-organs distort as much as they reveal.
Is consciousness a permanent part of the universe, giving hope ofindefinite growth in wisdom, or is it a transitory accident on a small planet on which life must ultimately become impossible?
There are many questions -- and amongthem those that are of the profoundest interest to our spiritual life -- which, so far as we can see, must remain insoluble to thehuman intellect unless its powers become of quite a different order from what they are now.
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We know them. We depend on them. We call them out on cold, rainy nights. Now, college professor Sarah Adams tells us why her life philosophy is built around being cool to the pizza delivery dude.