Re: Why read philosophy?

Technotranscendence (
Mon, 4 Oct 1999 22:03:09 -0700

On Monday, October 04, 1999 5:48 PM David Lubkin wrote:
> While I have a personal philosophy, I have lumped philosophy as a
> discipline with the few other subjects I have no interest in, like
mah-jongg and
> motorcycles. When the list turns to Nietzsche, my eyes glaze over.
> What I've read or heard in the past has dealt with important questions,
> but always seemed like a waste of time -- people arguing back and forth,
> with very few verifiable facts in their arguments. And the books seemed
> too dry and dense to read.

Part of the problem is many people view philosophy as apart from life and few philosophers really show how philosophy is important to living life. All too often philosophy is equated with word games, academic puzzles, and unanswerable questions.

I've taken a page from Ayn Rand in my views. (See her "Philosophy Who Needs It") I agree with her about philosophy being a guide to living life. This is not something that she originated. Many philosophers from Plato on had this view, she just happened to be the one for me who made the most persuasive arguments for me. This does not mean one must accept everything else she says on everything. (See my site for some of my criticisms of her views.)

I've also adopted her three questions to dissect various philosophies. These are: What is it? (ontology) How do I know it? (epistemology) and What should I do? (ethics) This gives one an easy way to start digesting a given philosophy. They are good starting points and help to bring order to the seeming chaos.

> But many of you don't feel this way. So I'd like to understand why you
read and
> discuss philosophy, and what you'd recommend I read as a seductive

I'd like to recommend something by Martha Nussbaum, but fear her focus on Ancient Greece and literature might make David's eyes glaze over too.:) Her _The Fragility of Goodness_ should be on the reading list of anyone who takes philosophy seriously.

However, a better place to start for neophyte might be Rand's _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_. This is plainly written and, if one can ignore Rand's polemics, rewarding. (For the record, I do not take it as the final word on the subject.)


Daniel Ust