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There is a new crisis in modern society that has endured from skepticism about the legitimacy and importance of the discipline of philosophy itself when science can provide all the answers. Why should people even care about philosophy or philosophers themselves when they live in a world where science is perceived to have a much more valuable and more important role in society than studying philosophy or the humanities? Philosophers are so unique because of their acute awareness of their activity in society and actively demonstrate their awareness by criticism from other people and disciplines as that is one of the core Socratic ideas of philosophy; that it is a form of self-knowledge (Loncar). Studying philosophy is one of the most practical things humans could potentially learn and apply to their life because philosophy is not characterized by its subject-matter alone, but also by its method. The values, skills, and methods that philosophers have are necessary to propose new ideas or arguments against old ones that could benefit society one day. Philosophers may question everything so that society can have new inventions, theories, and answers that the sciences alone could not bring about. Over time they propose new ideas that can instigate revolutions and ultimately change the way humans perceive their very own existence and reality to be (Hayden). Philosophers are comprised of individuals who strive to fundamentally challenge humanities core beliefs, by questions current culture and society’s values through their unique methods and skills that they have acquired by studying philosophy.
The are many popular misconceptions and stereotypes of philosophers. One of the most common stereotypes of what a philosopher is supposed to look like is some elderly, white, affluent male with a beard who claims to know the answers to everything but yet claims he knows nothing. There is also a misconception that philosophers are ignorant of science and are arrogant people who believe that they are always right because they know everything, and everyone else simply does not know the truth. People who study philosophy come from a broad range of backgrounds that are made up of entirely different races, genders, ages, socioeconomic statuses, sizes, and levels of intellectualism. The individuals who make up the discipline of philosophy are not all super sophisticated and extremely intellectual. Instead, they are human beings who simply like to think about philosophy, and can look like anything and come from any background of life. Stereotypes of individuals have a huge effect on individual performance and how individuals judge it. People can judge philosophers to be less good than other philosophers because they do not fit the typical stereotype of what a philosopher’s image is. Some people question their ability to study philosophy, and if they cannot understand certain ideas of one philosopher simply because they are too abstract to them, they might even avoid the ideas of philosophy altogether; they believe they are not the type of person who can understand and study philosophy (Loncar). In fact, studying the teachings of one philosopher and trying to apply their teachings to their life can be a rather slow, painstaking process at first, but over time the person acquires more knowledge that ultimately makes the person’s ability to think critically much easier and clearer to themselves (Tillman).
The disciplinary study of philosophy is becoming increasingly more important in the modern world, more than any other period in human history due to the rapid advancement of the sciences taking control over people’s lives through technology. If people choose to not ask questions about new discoveries and their ethical implications to society, then the whole discipline of philosophy will be discarded as being non-essential and unimportant. Adversely, it could create a society where no one has the ability or even need to think for themselves and would never ask any ethical questions about new technological and medical advances. Philosophers historically have always been perceived by others in their society to have the highest levels of achievement and intellectualism, with more knowledge than what any other discipline had to offer during that time. Now, culture is shifting away from free thinking, ambitious, reasonable and logical individuals who were seeking to ask questions about the very nature of the commonly held truths and values of our current culture and existence. A majority of people choose to take intellectual shortcuts in life and try to blame crutches for their life’s mistakes. They will believe whatever they hear from others to be true without even analyzing their beliefs and values to be even theirs as they lose the ability to reason and think for themselves over time. At the end of the day, the sciences do not teach a person actual moral values that are truly their own or ways to have an entirely different perception of their worldview and existence (Hadfield).
Individuals who study the teachings of philosophy and other philosophers can help improve not only their ability to think critically in situations but also their ability to provide themselves with more knowledge of logic that can drastically improve their critical thinking skills. Philosophers intellectually can reach the point of being able to propose logical and reasonable arguments to the commonly held values and beliefs of modern culture and society that most people hold to be true (Hayden). Philosophers are trying to attempt to understand the fundamental and important issues in society so that society can progress and gain further levels of understanding on how to address the most basic challenges and questions of modern society. Some of the questions that philosophers try to answer may never be answered, and may never even find one unified solution. There is always going to be a constant need of philosophers as their ideas are a crucial component of how each experiences their human life. Still, with all this advancement in science, why is there no unified empirical answer like, such as whether God exists, what the purpose of life is, whether there is any right or wrong in a true sense and, if there is, how such a priori values can be accessed. Philosophers have a certain way of thinking that makes them so much more valuable to promote real advances that affect human life experiences than any other profession. Their particular way of thinking about the nature of the universe and their existence in it, and by also asking fundamental questions about the nature of the universe, the nature of the human mind and thought, and all the interconnections between, make philosophers have so much more value in the modern era than the sciences have (Tillman).
Philosophers use a method that is logical, critical, analytical, imaginative, reflective, and always open-minded. Philosophers are not people who take intellectual shortcuts in life and will never assume that a certain point of view is empirically right merely because it seems plausible and vice versa. Society is currently in the modernism era that has come about from the Enlightenment; where over two hundred years ago, philosophers argued that above all else, reason should be used as the ultimate way to create an authoritative system of government, ethics, religion, and aesthetics, which would allow humans to access objective truth about the nature of reality. Philosophers often use the Enlightenment’s ideas as a basis for their modern ideas of liberalism, which bring about cultural revolutions that are against the ideas of intolerance and superstition. Most modern philosophers view the Enlightenment as a primary source of such critical ideas that are valuable to culture, such as the centrality of reason, freedom, and democracy in a modern society. From the Enlightenment’s point of view, the nature of philosophers is particular and authentic for their ability to apply rationality to every essential problem. This structural change away from circumscribed thinking allows philosophers to pursue their ideals and values of truth in whatever form it may be in, without a possible threat of sanction for violating currently established beliefs. The Enlightenment’s ideas are commonly valued among philosophers in the modern world and may bring about cultural revolutions through reason. However, pure reason alone will never be able to answer some of the most fundamental questions of freedom, God, and life after death because they have to be created through faith alone in a moral sense of duty (Earle).
“Philosophy Is Not a Science” is arguing for the fact that philosophy is not a field of science and that science rather comes from philosophy, but not only that, it has created most of the disciplines that modern society has today. According to Julian Friedland for the most of Western intellectual history, “philosophy was considered to be the mother of all knowledge,” but now we live in an era where a vast amount of people does not know whether or not philosophy is good for society and even what the discipline of philosophy is. Many people view philosophy as a highly intellectual and extremely sophisticated discipline that has little if any “bearing on objective reality” according to Julian Friedland. The subject as a whole has plenty of things to state about reality, but one of the main overarching assumptions of philosophy is that none of it qualifies as actual knowledge unless it is proven scientifically. Philosophers differ from the individuals who study the arts, religion, and literature in a fundamental way as the “etymological meaning is the love of wisdom.” According to Julian Friedland, the etymological meaning of philosophy implies an extended amount of objective knowledge, which this knowledge can only be attained “on its own terms, or else it would be another branch of science” (Friedland).
The Simpsons portray philosophy in an interesting and unique way by poking fun at modern society’s current fixation on trying to achieve success in life. In the beginning of the episode, “A Father’s Watch” Bart was not performing well in school, and after her mother, Marge looked online and found a video from an expert, that was known as “The Trophy Philosophy” and she thought almost instantaneously that Bart would start performing better in school if she followed the advice. Sometime later in the episode, “The Trophy Philosophy” gets abandoned due to a new belief proposed by another expert claiming that “too much praise creates narcissistic and entitled children” who will never go to college and will end up living with their parents. Bart later receives a pocket watch from his grandfather and then loses it and believes that he will be a failure without the watch because he believes the watch is the sole reason that he is currently achieving success in life. By the end of the episode, Bart’s dad finds the pocket watch and gives it back to Bart making him happy again and believing that he will be successful in life (“A Father’s Watch”).
The Simpsons episode “A Father’s Watch” is taking a funny, yet critical look at how current society believes that to be successful in life, one must get good grades, go to college and get a good job so that finally one may achieve success in life. Instead of forcing the idea upon their children that they will not be a success unless they do well in school or achieve certain goals their parents created for them, society must allow their children to set their aims in life and set up their versions of success. Modern culture shifts from one belief to the next view, and beliefs in anything they see or hear about even if the source is not credible or even logical. People in the society apparently believe in anything they hear or see about, while never thinking for themselves and choosing to believe in the hopes or goals created by others, therefore losing the ability even to question their beliefs and values. The constant need of approval set up by modern society’s culture is alarming and needs to be addressed for society to move forward, and by changing the beliefs and expectations of society, humans will be able created their success instead of living up to someone else’s (“A Father’s Watch”).
The Sunset Limited makes a few compelling arguments about why philosophers are so important to modern society, but it also actively portrays a critique of modern philosophers and how the Socratic method of debating philosophical questions can alienate a lot of people from philosophy. The entire movie is about a black man and a white, male professor discussing philosophical questions about religion, existence, and ethics to point out that philosophers are seeking the answers to things and how they came up with their replies, but realize that they cannot honestly answer fundamental questions of human life and most likely never will find answers with complete certainty. The movie pits two very different people with completely different values against each other by debating black and white fundamental questions of philosophy, and lastly asks what is the point of philosophers to ask questions in the first place if the answers never can be truly answered In the of their pursuit searching for truth they realize that they genuinely do not know anything at all about the world and that it is pointless to debate and criticize each other’s beliefs when it leads to nothing but hostility and anguished. Throughout the film, the two philosophers are both portrayed as critical, hypocritical, and narcissistic, while the black man has a more positive outlook on life, and the white man has a very depressive and negative one (The Sunset Limited).
Culture even changes the most narcissistic philosopher’s values into weak ones. Human’s experiences change values and beliefs, and the white man portrays this when he said “Maybe I have no beliefs. The things I believed in no longer exist. It is foolish to pretend they do. Western civilization finally went up in smoke, and I was too infatuated to see it. I see it now.” Philosophers make assumptions from the answers of previous questions that may or may not be true, and acquired knowledge through life experiences and studying the writings of fellow philosophers. They ask why we do things and believe certain things to be true, but may find out that even those once certain truths are liable to uncertainty. They way philosophers try to convince people of completely abstract things is by using allegories and narratives to show a black a white question and the proposed answer. According to the black man, through debate, you get the following reason “what you want in life is pain and happiness.” It makes logical sense to both of them after hours of questioning each other’s beliefs, and they both can agree to the statement, showing that philosophers may have different beliefs and values but through debating and simple intellectual craft that can make comments where they both agree that it is valid (The Sunset Limited).
By studying philosophy, individuals are able to gain more knowledge of the universe and have a much more in-depth understanding of how the universe functions, which potentially leads to new questions and ideas on how the universe should operate. Philosophers argue that it is important to learn about science, but the most important thing to learn is how to think. Studying philosophy allows individuals to carefully consider the nature of things, unlike any other discipline or field of study. They are also able to become more well-rounded people and better critical thinkers. The skills of learning how to analyze critically and closely, to think and write rigorously, and to thoroughly question everything, makes a philosopher invaluable to modern society. They hold so much more value to modern society. They can help current society progress far beyond the abilities of what the sciences alone can do. There will always be important questions in the future that will need to be examined and a constant desire to ask and answer the questions that future society will have, because of their unique method’s and skills, philosophers are best equipped to ask and respond to. Philosophy must now become the mother of all fields again, and its values need to be applied throughout all the disciplines and fields so that society can move on from this current state of non-intellectualism, to allow the further advancement of culture and society.
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