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What is philosophy?

How philosophical debate affects everyday life

· Psychotherapy,Philosophy

A common misconception about philosophy is that the discipline is out of touch with ordinary life. Even if philosophical debates seem pedantic and abstract, philosophy addresses questions that are important for our everyday life. We all ask ourselves questions like: why do we need to respect nature?; what are human rights?; is it wrong to use animals for scientific research?; what is the mind?; is there life after death?; do I need to limit my freedom to live in a civilised society? The answers we give to those questions can profoundly affect our existence and have deep implications for the way we live in the world. There's more to philosophy than splitting hair on semantics. Philosophy questions politics, ethics, religion, mortality, the fundamental nature of reality (which is referred to as metaphysics), freedom, science, and so on. Of course we all have different opinions, and the philosophical debate is more than a simple exchange of opinions. This is because philosophers use a way of thinking and arguing that is bound by rigour and structure. Constructing a coherent argument is a fundamental skill of what it means to be a philosopher. It is important to build concepts on a solid and sophisticated line of thinking, and to back them up by more than simple opinions. In this way we can question beliefs, assumptions, and most importantly, dogmatism. Doing philosophy is an act of rebellion against preconceived ideas and prejudice. A lot of this rebellion is an internal conflict against our own preconceived ideas and biases. This is where philosophy and psychotherapy meet (see As long as they remain in our head, ideas and thoughts can seem ambiguous and blurry. We all experienced internal conflicts and dilemmas. Philosophy is an appropriate tool to clarify those thoughts in a structured way and articulate them better. The need to clarify thoughts is central in a lot of aspects of our everyday life, for example regarding human rights, politics, freedom and ethics. It is vital that we have a clear understanding of what we mean with those terms. Learning about philosophy is empowering and enriching and gives us the tools to debate coherently and to get our point across. On a psychological perspective, I believe that the ability to be explicit in articulate, affects the way we relate to ourselves and to the world.

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