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Why is Philosophy Important According to Bertrand Russell

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Why Philosophy?

Philosophy can be confusing to almost all who studies it, mainly because for many of the questions, there are no definite answers, just more questions. Philosophy is studied simply to not only to attain knowledge, but to create speculation of all that we currently think mankind understands. Unlike finding answers such as in other sciences, philosophy opens the mind to continue to ask questions not only about the world that a person lives in, but about also about the mind and body they currently hold.

Bertrand Russell explains in his book “The Problems of Philosophy” how philosophy is important to study even though many believe it to be “useless trifling, hair-splitting distinctions, and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible.” Some of this is true, as much of the controversies are regarding knowledge which may be impossible for the mind to understand, however Russell explains how trying to understand these impossibilities are important, not to find answers, but to find more questions about the world around us. Russell explains how as soon as philosophy does find answers, it is no longer philosophy, but a new type of science such as how the study of stars and what is above us was once philosophy, but has now moved to astronomy, and psychology, the study of the mind, was once philosophy as well. By removing the restriction of what is possible in the universe Russell explains that we find the importance to questions, and keep a “speculative interest in the universe.” The idea of philosophic contemplation is also brought up in his book as he explains it is an escape from the thinking that man is stuck without exploring the outer world. Philosophic contemplation is something that is the growth of self as Russell puts it. “Knowledge is a form of union of Self and not-Self; like all union, it is impaired by dominion, and there by any attempt to force the universe into conformity with what we find in ourselves.” People must force idea of knowledge to expand past what they think is possible, and deny conformity if it restricts the advancement of self to release oneself from the prison which is constraint.

Russell brings up many points that have not been important in lives such as myself, but need to be. Russell explains the value of philosophy: “through the greatness of the objects which it contemplates, and the freedom from narrow and personal aims resulting from this contemplation.” He explains how the life of a normal man is to be within his private interests, and that the outer world is not often thought about or regarded. Many uneducated, and even those who are thought to be educated with an expansion of knowledge still often think only of what is applicable and not what is possible or even impossible. These lives are confined and not as free as they could be. There are not only a possible infinite amount of worlds just out of our reach, but a truly infinite mind right at the center of our being which is left alone and barren. Social bounds of our tiny blue planet already tries to tell people what is important, and what is a waste of time, which is why philosophic contemplation is important. Philosophic contemplation “does not, in its widest survey, divide the universe into two hostile camps – friends and foes, helpful and hostile, good and bad – it views the whole impartially.” Instead of dividing people to think that everything could be objective and either good or bad, it brings speculation and subjection into everyone’s everyday lives, allowing each person to make the decision for themselves. Philosophy allows anyone and everyone to ask any and all questions to expand their own personal knowledge, not for the sake of answers, but for the sake of knowledge and a personal understanding of the world around them and mind within.

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