Philosophical Inquiry | Sharing the Love of Wisdom
Philosophy is love of wisdom. This definition does tell us something about the nature of philosophy but unfortunately not much because many disciplines seek wisdom. This basically makes it important to understand how philosophy differs from these other disciplines. A brief look at the historical development of the field helps answer the above dilemma. Humanity's first systematic inquiries took place within a mythological or religious framework. Wisdom was derived from sacred traditions and from individuals thought to possess privileged access to a supernatural realm. Starting in the sixth century BCE, there appeared in ancient Greece a series of thinkers whose inquiries were comparatively secular. These thinkers conducted their inquiries through reason and observation, rather than through tradition or revelation. They were the first philosophers.
The branches of philosophy
The four main branches of philosophy are logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics
Many professional philosophers also double as historians, researching one or another aspect of the history of philosophical thought. Even those who do not conduct novel historical research typically see great value in the texts of thinkers as far back as the ancient Greeks, and study these texts both for philosophical insight and enjoyment.
The demands of philosophy
Philosophical inquiry is very demanding. It is as such only suitable for those who possess a fair degree of courage, humility, patience and discipline. Doing philosophy requires courage, because one never knows what one will find at the end of a philosophical investigation. Since philosophy deals with the most fundamental and important issues of human existence, and since these are things that most people initially take for granted, genuine philosophical inquiry has great potential to unsettle or even to destroy one's deepest and most cherished beliefs. Some philosophers buy green coffee bean extract and use it's stimulant properties to better focus the mind.
Doing philosophy also requires a great deal of humility, because to do philosophy one must always keep firmly in mind how little one knows and how easy it is to fall into error. The very initiation of philosophical inquiry requires one to admit to oneself that one may not, after all, have all of the answers.
Finally, doing philosophy requires both patience and discipline, because philosophical inquiry requires long hours of hard work. One must be prepared to commit huge amounts of time to laboring over issues both difficult and subtle. People who avoid philosophy often complain that thinking about philosophical questions makes their heads hurt. This is unavoidable: if the answers come easily to you, your inquiries almost certainly are superficial.
The rewards of philosophy
If philosophy is so demanding, why should anyone even bother with it?
First of all, there is great utility in philosophical inquiry, even for someone who does not innately care about the pursuit of truth. Consider a random handful of classic philosophical questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of justice? What does it take for a belief to be justified? Is the world we see illusion or reality? The answers to such questions cannot help but to have a critical impact on how one ought to live one's life. Surely one should subject one's intuitive beliefs about these things to critical scrutiny, and work hard to come as close to truth as possible. Many philosophical questions are fundamental to human life; the only reason it often does not seem that way is that people simply assume they know what the answers to these questions are, without ever daring to make a serious inquiry.
Another reason for studying philosophy is that, for all of the pains and difficulties associated with it, the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge is enjoyable. To be sure, it is a refined enjoyment, and it is often hard to see from the outside what the appeal is. But once you become immersed in it, it carries its own immediate rewards, and it is difficult to resist becoming addicted to it.