Living in a society where capitalism is championed as the best means to economic prosperity has consequences. When a society’s schools focus more on how his students will get a job after graduation while undermining how virtuous that student will become later in life, a science like philosophy cannot be highly regarded trampled over. When we believe that being successful means having a lot of money, while being a good person is undervalued, philosophy of course will be underestimated. When a society values appearance, looks, and sense experience in such a profound magnitude, of course philosophy lost his seat of honor in the house of argumentation. I am not proud to say that philosophy in of itself loses the debate, but it is the sad reality. When a society adopts a distorted view of human nature where it no longer means striving for perfection or excellence, that society has issues. When freedom means having the power to do as one sees fit, of course that society will think that philosophy is futile and needs to be pursued only by those who has no need to pursue an ambitious career. Our society wants to devalue anything that does not bring money and fame. I want to tell those people who think this way, not so fast. Money and fame do not bring the happiness they yearn for in the deepest self. They don’t feel the God shaped vacuum in their heart that can never be filled by the fleeting things f this world. As human beings constructed with a physical and a spiritual nature, we were not made for fame and wealth; we were made to live in communion with Our Creator. Among all the sciences, philosophy and theology provide the quickest means to reach Our Creator’s hands. Therefore, philosophy must not be dismissed. It must not be dismissed because it helps us answer the deep questions of life that we are all concerned about. It is true philosophy students are one of the highest unemployed people in the country, which is again due to our view of it. It is no denial that philosophy is not discussed in our TV stations like history and the sciences. However, when everything is said and done, I mean when we get comfort, a roof over our head, a car, a decent standard of living, the first question we ask in one form or another is what the point of it all is. In absence of religion, philosophy is the first that allows us to ponder this non dismissible question. Relying on a lecture I have attended at Providence College and my own insight, I will give some of the reasons why we think philosophy is not beneficial, and some reasons why we are wrong.
The biggest reason behind our incorrect view of philosophy is due to the deep seated cultural view of life. Most people today think that good looks, wealth, and fame make people happy. Therefore, these aids to happiness are no longer seen as means toward happiness, they are seen as happiness itself. The happy life does not mean living in accordance with virtue and excellence. The happy life simply means following whatever allows one to get rich and famous. So our view is too tied up to one of the means that lead to happiness. Moreover, most people have a distorted view of happiness. They believe that happiness is the satisfaction of our desires. Since philosophers are usually concerned with the deep questions of life while seemingly suggesting little about how people can satisfy their desires, they assign philosophy a red card. So it is out of the game. Despite the fact that philosophy departments in our colleges and universities tout themselves as that which gives the tools to attain the highest thing of life, most students entering college don’t care about majoring in philosophy. Although philosophy majors outperform all majors except math in the GRE test for graduate schools, and have highest acceptance in medical schools, that is still not sufficiently appealing to people. Why do those people prefer a fish to the skill of fishing? Why do students not care about the almost guaranteed tool of success in a career and in life?
The most important factor behind that unfortunate choice is that we are too value-blind and money-oriented. We think we know when we actually don’t know. Value is thus very contingent upon people’s level of education. No one who cares about education, and who is actually educated would think that philosophy is impractical. Value is too contingent upon our subjective view of life. Since our culture rejects all her points of reference, since relativism is so prevalent in the mind of our people, of course we have to confuse the means of life with the end of life. Moreover, we never learn from our mistake and we have no role model. One would think that when it dawns upon us that money and what we value are unsatisfactory and leads us nowhere close to happiness, we would give philosophy a chance; everyone keeps looking away as if there is no past; they refuse to give such a noble path a chance. They suffer and the whole society suffers with them due to their foolish choice. Where has happened to our sense of sacrifice? We need to give up some worthless value in order to rise to our being, or in order to start moving toward our end. We should at least try to let go of things; if doing so makes us less happy, then we can go back to them, but if we become more content in doing so, it is probably the right thing to do and must be pursued further.
Have you noticed since this generation overwhelmingly rejects philosophy, they overwhelmingly reject God and religion? They think there is no such thing as first principles. Even if two ideas are contradictory, they still hold on to it. They only believe in what they cannot dismiss like the law of gravity and sciences; everything else is simply body of opinion. They believe that anything that cannot be proved scientifically is false although they cannot prove that statement themselves. We are not heading the right direction folks. It is time to wake up and realize that as a boat needs a captain, as a country needs a leader, as the body needs the soul and the soul needs the body, as matter needs form and the latter needs matter, so it is with us in relation to philosophy. We need it to trigger our mind to thinking about higher things.
The lecture was given by Dr Kelly, Associate Professor San Diego University on April 2013 at Providence College