For the love of wisdom
Why Study Philosophy?
Q: What is philosophy?
A: It’s probably best to define the word in order to explain it. Love (Phileo) + Wisdom (Sophia) = Love of Wisdom. So, if you don’t love wisdom, then what do you love? Therefore, everyone loves philosophy.
Q: How do you learn wisdom at TWU? What does that mean?!
A: How does one learn to be happy? Happiness comes about indirectly from living your life a certain way. Philosophy is a way of life. Wisdom proceeds from self-discipline and illuminates your life and those around you. It sharpens your rationality, enhances communication skills, and equips you to make proper judgments in courses of action and in deciding what is of value! The reflective life can quickly form one’s character and outperform the best “self-help” book. I could go on and on.
Q: Does philosophy really prove anything?
A: Philosophy and physics engage in similar activities. The main difference between physics and philosophy are their scopes. Physical theories try to analyze and connect concepts of force, mass, and acceleration, etc.; on the other hand, philosophical theories analyze and connect concepts of reference, meaning, truth, intention, moral responsibility, necessity, physical laws, and so on. The bottom line is that physics deals with “physical” manipulation (i.e. observation, measurement, etc.), while philosophy deals with “mental” manipulation (i.e. thinking carefully and creatively about philosophical claims or problems). If done well, the effort can produce genuine progress in human understanding.
Second, philosophy is just as “objective” as physics. Some people think that disagreement on an issue means that no one is actually talking about an objective fact. But this isn’t right; otherwise, physics would lack objectivity, since the history of physics also includes disagreements on fundamental physical concepts and principles. In terms of objectivity, what goes for physics goes for philosophy.
Q: Isn’t philosophy just someone’s opinion?
A: No. Genuine opinions are simply beliefs concerning the facts, and sometimes such beliefs are correct. There is no inevitable conflict between fact and opinion, contrary to people’s common understanding. Why can’t opinions also be considered knowledge?
Q: Is philosophy hard?
A: If you’ve tasted the value of wisdom, you’ll do what it takes to spend more time with her. Philosophy is for those who desire to have true beliefs, to see the world the way it really is. I hated my intro classes; almost everyone does! I tried really hard in PHIL 105 and still got a B-. But think of “intro courses” as initiations! It only gets better from that point on!
Q: You can only teach philosophy if you study it, right?
A: No. While every discipline (HKIN, BIO, RELS, etc.) only gives you certain outputs for employment, all disciplines come out of philosophy (Ph.D “doctorate of philosophy”). Philosophy arises from of awe and wonder of the world; out of fear and reverence for God (Pr. 9:10). I’m scared of anyone who has never held at least one these attitudes. If you study philosophy as a major, concentration, or minor, then you’ll have the “mad skillz” to enter into any discipline in the future and succeed! Statistics show!
Q: Isn’t God’s wisdom higher than man’s wisdom?
A: Duh. However, Christianity and philosophy go together like “two peas in a pod,” so to speak. But, how do you know what divine wisdom is anyways? In response, philosophy is prior to theology. Who taught you the alphabet to read Scripture? Your teachers! Philosophy precedes theology, if not in ultimate importance as wisdom, yet as that without which theology degenerates into ideology (an incomplete picture) and fideism (blind faith) and the content of religion becomes a degenerate world indistinguishable in function from the world of nonlinguistic animals. Learn how to read before reading! Do good philosophy in order to do good theology (1 Pet. 3:15-16)!
Q: Ok, maybe philosophy is important, what classes do I take?
A: Take whatever interests you! There are classes that touch upon questions that may interest you? How do I think logically? What is knowledge? Is there a rational reason to believe in God? What is beauty? Does God exist? What is morality? What is friendship? What is my mind in relation to my body? Can science explain everything? Do miracles exist? Do I have a soul or is there an afterlife? What is the best regime? Do I have a free will? Is purgatory real? What is truth? How can God allow evil? Is abortion always wrong? Is time real? You’d be surprised how easy the answer is to the question, “What is the meaning life?” Get in the business of asking questions! You’ll probably never have as good an opportunity to get answers as you do right now at TWU!