Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tips for Would-Be Philosophers

Here is a philosopher's letter to his Intro to Philosophy class, explaining what philosophy is and how to do it.

"Welcome to My Philosophy Class"

After sharing guidelines for how to read philosophy and write a paper for a philosophy class, Wayne Buck points to the value that can be found even in lower-level classes:

There are practical benefits to be gained from studying philosophy. First, it will improve your ability to reason, and to think originally. In reading and writing about abstract problems, you practice and develop analytical, critical and argumentative skills which are useful in many other endeavors. In turn, this will give you confidence in yourself and in your ability to think through problems and come to your own conclusions. It will make you less dependent on others and their thoughts, and put you in a better position to understand yourself and others.

Second, you will learn something about the philosophical tradition. Philosophy has been and still is a central force in Western culture and intellectual life. It is philosophers who have most clearly and thoroughly elaborated the values, ideals and theories which shape the way we live and think, even today. This is true not only for morals and religion, but also for the natural sciences, for political science, for economics and for literature.

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