It seems that no matter how many times we declare that the end for literature has come, people read more and more. Well, I have no stats to back this up, but it just looks as if they do. Everywhere I look there are people reading something – mostly on their phones, but hey, that is better than nothing. I think pretty much everyone reading this blog post is well aware why… well, reading is essential to us and how many benefits it has. Let us then take the game up a level and ask a question that I have been asked way too many times in my life: in this day and age unless you are an academic why on Earth would you ever read philosophers?
I admit, that’s a tough one. Mostly because no matter what I am trying to say, I automatically feel like a self-absorbed know-it-all. You know, only snobs and wannabe intellectuals read philosophers unless for research purposes. People don’t do it for fun, do they?
Well, I think I do.
Nothing will help your logical thinking as much as reading philosophers
You may think that reading essays by a guy who thought that the entire world is just different configurations of water cannot give you much in terms of learning – I mean, we progressed a bit throughout the ages and we do know that is definitely not true. Wrong. There is still plenty left to munch on.
Nothing will teach you the power of logic as much as reading philosophers. I am not saying you should go ahead and re-write old books into logical statements (great exercise… I have heard; somehow I managed to avoid it at school completely!) – but following through their arguments will teach you a great many valuable lessons about action-reaction chains and answering the pesky why questions. Philosophers may make little to no sense sometimes with their extremely detached from reality points of view, but if there is one thing about them, they do now how to create a consistent and well-organized argument.
You won’t believe how much your writing will improve!
If you are one of those chaotic thinkers with a million thoughts at the time who struggle to express themselves in an understandable fashion – I think we just hit a sweet spot for you.
Once you start buddying up with philosophers, you will start to apply their way of thinking – to some extent. It may not reflect on your style or the topics you choose, but will have a fundamental impact on the flow of your writing. You will be quicker to spot patterns and links, you will be able to prioritize certain arguments over others and in general all your writing will become more consistent as what you are presenting will just naturally follow one another instead of jumping into the reader’s face haphazardly.
There is a side effect to that, though
You know how sometimes you are just listening to someone who seems to make sense but there is something dodgy about the way he or she is presenting it? Well, after your affair with philosophy you will most likely realize that these people don’t actually have a clue about what they are doing and all their arguments are just… either simply wrong or at least overcomplicated.
Trust me, it will drive you crazy or at the very least cost you a friendship or two.
Reading philosophers will open a world of new thoughts
This applies to any book really, but since philosophy tends to be so abstract, somehow it is more prominent in that field.
If you think that right now you ponder way too much over irrelevant stuff, wait till you start reading philosophers. Not only will they point you in directions you were never expecting and distract you with endless questions about mundane things. No. Suddenly you’ll realize all these things you considered separate beings are magically connected, and the train of thoughts has no limit to its reach.
What a fantastic world to live in!
You’ll learn a great deal of history too, and art, and politics, and…
Philosophy is the mother of all science – and like a good mother it can tell you quite a lot about its children. By reading philosophers not only will you learn plenty about the times they lived in; you can explore a great many fields such as physics, art (my personal favourite, philosophy of art – countless hours I have spent reading Sartre!), religion, pretty much anything.
Which also means you don’t have to stick to reads you do not enjoy. If moral dilemmas mean nothing to you, you can just focus on something else. Philosophy is such a broad subject; the possibilities are virtually endless.
And with the entire Internet to guide you and so many little Philosophy for dummies books (I have no clue how good they are – I assume they are good enough to give one a direction) you are bound to find something that suits you just fine.
And finally: reading philosophers is fun!
Do you know the famous quote, a favourite of all Physics students around the world?
Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.
The exact same principle can be applied to doing philosophy; but also to reading it. Reading anything. Sure, there are many benefits I presented to you here and a great many more, but at the end of the day reading is a pleasurable experience. Full stop.
I don’t know how you guys feel about it, but personally I get really bored if I read the same thing over and over again; I need fresh air from time to time. And jumping from one action packed book to another doesn’t quite do it for me. Philosophy does.
It has a different pace and purpose and structure, it carries me in a completely different direction and makes me focus on brand new problems. It is my breath of fresh air. And now that summer is almost here, it is calling me stronger than ever.
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