Why (and How) to Study Philosophy

written September 11th, 2020

I started studying computer science full time this week. One of the classes I'm taking is Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality.

Our teacher was talking about the value of studying philosophy. The intrinsic value of it was especially interesting to me. I'll admit, I've always doubted I could understand philosophy. I didn't think I was smart enough. I've tried reading some old texts and the words flew over my head.

So what does this have to do with the intrinsic value of philosophy? I hope that philosophy will help make me a better thinker. A better writer, reader, and communicator. All of these things will likely come true but maybe the reason I have had difficult reading philosophy texts isn't because I lack intelligence. Maybe it's something else.

I was reading an excellent post by Paul Graham wrote about philosophy. He says, "if you write in an unclear way about big ideas, you produce something that seems tantalizingly attractive to inexperienced but intellectually ambitious students." He criticizes texts by Aristotle didn't do a great job communicating ideas clearly.

You might not agree with what Paul Graham writes but I think it is an interesting perspective. It gives me hope. Instead of worrying about being smart enough over the course of this semester, I'm going to worry about how clearly I'm communicating my ideas.

Maybe I'm not smart enough to understand philosophy. But I think the intrinsic value still stands.