Importance of philosophy?


W.C. Fields quipped,

Everyone believes in something. I believe I’ll have another drink."

Normally, the concept of philosophy gives me a headache. My philosophy is fine. That of others, not so much…


Academic philosophy is important in cultivating a right way of thinking (as you mentioned, critically). It is a method of organizing thoughts that (hopefully) seeks to eliminate the influence of preconception and fallacy.

There are also branches of philosophy that has real world applications - ethics and logic being two salient examples.

There are additionally other sub-branches that deal with other disciplines - it acts as a sort of meta-discipline. So where as biology discusses the subject matter itself. Philosophy of biology discusses the methods and implications of the discipline itself.


The Greek word-root meaning of philosophy is the “love of wisdom.” In the high Middle Ages, philosophy was dubbed the handmaiden of theology. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. If you think that theology is the highest science (branch of knowledge), then having its handmaiden alongside it is important to doing theology well.

The Middle Ages also emphasized the study and contemplation of the three transcendentals of being: truth, goodness and beauty. I suppose the corresponding philosophical disciplines might be epistemology (& logic), ethics and aesthetics. 20th century philosophy has sub-divided into all kinds of categories (phil of language, phil of science, phil of mind, etc), but sticking to core philosophical disciplines that correspond to the 3 transcendentals would serve one well. And don’t forget metaphysics (the study of being qua being)! Getting your metaphysics straight will always help with theology (and in dealing with atheists/unbelievers).


I would say part of it is extending potential knowledge given axioms that cannot be yet proven.


Ive found many of the great philosophers too difficult to comprehend. Especially Locke Hume era.

Plato is worth reading definitely. And its not beyond my limited capacity to understand some of his themes. I also quite liked Kierkegaard, mainly because of the Christian element and his aversion to the over-rational approaches of his era and just prior.
I think Philosophy is important but you need a good teacher.
One day I will read Aquinas but I’m kind of overawed by the size of Summa Theologica. Augustine’s Confessions is almost a must read too. For Christians in particular.

The hardest is Nietzsche. My advice. Just get a synopsis. Don’t go into depth unless you are quite the academic yourself. He of course is anti Christian which is why I wanted to read him in the first place. (not meaning I’m anti Christian btw :slight_smile:


Philosophy is the history of thought, isn’t it? You can look at how thinking and thought has changed over the years, and in a Christian context partly too. Ways of thinking really affect us. Just the way an atheist and Christian differ is an example. One putting God at the centre, one not.


Nietzsche was anti-organized religion. Not just Christianity.

Kant was a difficult read for me. He loved the sound of his own voice. Most of the Continentals (especially the Germans) are difficult reads, in their style and the translation issues. Schoppenhaur, Heigal, Heidegger, etc. especially hard.

GE. Moore was a delight to read, most good Aristotle and Plato translations are smooth reads. Russell and Frege we’re good reads if you’re into logic. And I found Wittgenstein a smooth read if you’re into language. Paul Price was a delight to read too, again if you’re into language. I also felt Descartes was an easy read

The WORST were a few more recent meta-ethics writers. Especially the noncognitivists.


I’d like to put in a good word for the philosophers of the Frankfurt School: Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin et al. There are good and bad things about their thought as with any philosophers. Perhaps the worst aspect is that they do come from an unabashedly Marxist perspective, and that may put them out of court for many here on CAF. However, this perspective does not prevent them from making many pithy and useful observations about life post-WW II, and if you are not sympathetic to their politics (as I am not), it is not difficult in most instances to ‘read around’ the political references, rather as a veggie-hater might ‘eat around’ the carrots and turnips in a beef stew, yet still get nourishment and enjoyment from the food. The main stumbling block for those students interested in Frankfurt thought is that they all wrote in German, and the English translations to date have been less than satisfactory, so unless your German is at least third-year philosophy level, you will find yourself swimming in grim waters, indeed. But I can recommend their works most highly. I found, when I first encountered their work, that they made many connections and points about society at which I had already arrived independently. This intrigued me, causing me to delve more deeply, and the result has been a most satisfying journey into modern philosophical byways. if you find yourself similarly intrigued, may I suggest you begin with Minima Moralia by Theodor Adorno. This is by far the most accessible of the many volumes by these gentlemen, and I can virtually guarantee you will find common ground with the author in more than one area. Also, if you do not read German, the available English translations of this one are the least offensive and easiest to read for those who are not yet familiar with Frankfurt thought.


YES! Plato is so accessible. If you begin with the Apology, you won’t go wrong. That little dialogue is a masterpiece.


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