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We Don’t Ask Big Questions
There are lot of big questions around : what is the meaning of life? How should society be arranged? etc. Most of us entertain them very now and then, we despair of trying to answer them. They have the status of jokes. We call them “pretentious”, but they matter deeply because only with sound answer to them can redirect one’s energy meaningfully. Philosophers are people unafraid of asking questions, They realize that these questions can always be broken down into more manageable chunks and the only really pretentious thing is to think one is allowed raising big naive sounding inquires
We Are Vulnerable To Errors Of Common Sense
Public opinion or what’s get called “Common Sense” is sensible and reasonable in countless areas. It’s what
you hear about from friends and neighbors, the stuff you take in without even thinking about it. But common sense is also often full of daftness
and error. Philosophy gets us to submit all aspects of common sense to reason. It wants us to think for ourselves. Is it really true what people say about love, money, children, travel, work? Philosophers are interested in asking whether an idea is logical – rather than simply assuming it must be right because it is popular and long-established.
We Are Mentally Confused
We’re not very good at knowing what goes on in our own minds. Someone we meet is very annoying, but we can’t pin down what the issue is. Or we lose our temper, but can’t readily tell what we’re so cross about. We lack insight into our own satisfactions and dislikes. That’s why we need to examine our own minds. Philosophy is committed to self-knowledge – and its central precept – articulated by the earliest, greatest philosopher, Socrates – is just two words long:
We Have Muddled Ideas About What Makes Us Happy
We’re not very good at making ourselves happy. We overrate the power of some things to improve our lives – and underrate others. We make the wrong choices because, guided by advertising and false glamour, we keep on imagining that a particular kind of holiday, or car, or computer will make a bigger difference than it can. At the same time, we underestimate the contribution of other things – like going for a walk – which may have little prestige but can contribute deeply to the character of existence. Philosophers seek to be wise by getting more precise about the activities and attitudes that really can help our lives to go better.
We Panic And Lose Perspective
Philosophers are good at keeping a sense of what really matters and what doesn’t. On hearing the news that he’d lost all his possessions in a shipwreck, the Stoic philosopher Zeno simply said: ‘Fortune commands me to be a less encumbered philosopher.’ It’s responses like these that have made the very term ‘philosophical a byword for calm, long-term thinking and strength-of-mind, in short, for perspective. The wisdom of philosophy is – in modern times – mostly delivered in the form of books. But in the past, philosophers sat in market squares and discussed their ideas with shopkeepers or went into government offices and palaces to give advice. It wasn’t abnormal to have a philosopher on the payroll. Philosophy was thought of as a normal, basic activity – rather than as an unusual, esoteric, optional extra. Nowadays, it’s not so much that we overtly deny this thought but we just don’t have the right institutions set up to promulgate wisdom.