Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. MatrixGravity
    Offline

    MatrixGravity Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York

    Will studying Philosophy make me wiser?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by MatrixGravity, Jun 5, 2012.

    If I were to purchase some books on Philosophy, and if I read them thoroughly, would I be able to attain wisdom from them and become more wiser as a person and be able to understand the world better?

    I spend a lot of time reading quotes on websites that were spoken by Philosophers and I wish I was able to possess a profound outlook on life like they have. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    NYC
    From personal experience, no.

    But it does make you more of a jaded smart a** so I think it was great.
    Or maybe being a jaded smart a** is a manifestation of wisdom?
     
  3. dave_c
    Offline

    dave_c Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2010
    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    st helens, near liverpool
    I would say no, I know a couple of people who have studied it and they are the most closed minded people I know.
     
  4. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Memorising quotes will not make you wise. Wisdom is an abstract concept anyway. Will studying philosophy teach you about philosophy? Maybe, that really depends on you.

    In the end, I think wisdom can only come from life experience, including what you spend your time studying, but more important is what you do with it, and how it affects you.
     
  5. RusticOnion
    Offline

    RusticOnion Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2011
    Messages:
    306
    Likes Received:
    8
    Studying anything has the potential to make one wiser.
     
  6. AmyHolt
    Offline

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Warsaw, IN
    I agree with this. If I really want to learn about something I use whatever means is available at the time and often it's reading a book but just reading a book doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to be wiser. I think the key ingredient is desire.
     
  7. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    Philosophy is not about being 'wise' it's about building arguments around some pretty fundamental issues. But it all really depends, in the case of this thread, on what you consider to be 'wise'. If your goal in studying philosophy is to be wise then I suggest you rethink this, because you might easily miss the point. Many philosophers, especially the ones I enjoy the most (Hume, Nietzsche) do not really give 'answers' but more ask questions; and they build up systems of ethics and values based on their own interpretations of these questions.

    Philosophy as well is a very large subject, and it depends on what kind of philosophy you want to know about. For eras you have (and these are the main ones):


    The Pre-Socratics - these guys go really undervalued today. Almost criminally so.

    The 'Socratics' - Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato are the main players here really, two of which are essential reading for anyone interested in philosophy, and the third (Socrates) you can't read, you only have his students and friends notes on him. There are more philosophers during this time, especially the Roman philosophers, but these three are essentially the philosophic tag-team of this era.

    Medieval - This is an area of philosophy that is currently gaining a great amount of criticism and appreciation. It's actually pretty amazing, the number of philosophers that we now know of from during the Medieval period that we didn't know a mere 10 or 20 years ago. Mostly the figures of this era are the Christian Saints St. Thomas Aquinas and such. We find at this time Islamic Philosophy, which has a fine tradition that should not go unnoticed.

    Renaissance - This era has a lot of interest and attention. Descartes is the main guy here, because he essentially marks the end of the Church's, and Aristotle's, monopoly on thought, and Islamic Philosophy is also strong during this period. This era is pretty good because it's a reawakening to the ideas of the Pre-Socratics, with the rise of Political Philosophy and theory.

    Enlightenment - This is my personal favorite era, People like Hobbes, Hume, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Locke, ect. All of these thinkers in some way have had a tremendous effect on us still, and we still study them because they are in many senses still relevant to modern philosophy.

    Modern Philosophy - This era is something I'm beginning to seriously really look in to to be honest so I don't know too much about it yet. The people found here are, for example: Sartre, Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky.

    Keep in mind that these 'eras' I have organized purely for convenience, attempting to show in some way the evolution of Western philosophy, based largely on Russell's book 'A Brief History of Philosophy'. Some consider Hume, Locke and Nietzsche to be 'Modern' philosophers for example because they are still relevant to formal, academically accepted philosophy. There are also different fields, such as Existentialism, Humanism, Ethics, Political Theory, Metaphysics, Empiricism, etc.

    Just reading a philosopher can leave you very much in the dark unless you know something around their subject. Nietzsche is probably my favorite philosopher, but I wouldn't dream of reading him first without at least being aware of the Socratic and Pre-Socratic tradition that he comes from.


    Ditto this, hard.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    My grandfather had a saying. "Send a fool to college, you'll get back an educated fool."

    Wisdom doesn't come from accumulating knowledge. It comes from learning to apply what knowledge you have to life situations to create a better outcome.

    My grandfather didn't complete high school. He was kicked out late in his senior year for smoking on school grounds. But he was a well respected man with a good heart and a sharp mind, who built his own house (my mother lives in that house today), and who rose through the ranks of his company as a troubleshooter, and eventually held the number three position -- the two brother who owned the company held the top two positions. This was a gravel and paving company with over a dozen locations and hundreds of employees.
     
  9. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Sure, studying anything has the POTENTIAL to make one wiser. But wisdom does not emanate freely from dusty old books. You get out of any study what you put into it. The books can help, but you will have to build your own wisdom yourself. This isn't really a great analogy, but it'll do for six in the morning: You're the raw material; the books can be treated as a limited set of assembly instructions. In other words, they're useless without the raw material, and they're useless if you don't carry out the work.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    This is so very true, and very well put. Without your own independent input into the study of philosophy, or even a philosopher, then the entire point of philosophy is missed.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i've been a full-time, practicing philosopher for 17 years, have become pretty 'wise' by now [at 73], and i didn't get to be one or 'wise' by studying the famous philosophers, but only by observing and studying the human race and its behaviors throughout history and during my own lifetime... and i've no college degrees, never took any college courses other than auditing 2nd and 3rd year french and an italian one, fairly late in life...

    but i've read/studied extensively and constantly since earliest childhood, always been a 'people-watcher'... i have traveled the world over, lived among peoples of all sorts of cultures, religions, lifestyles and have lived many different 'lives' myself, from 'ordinary' to very poor, to quite wealthy, to homeless and possessionless [by choice]... from all of this comes wisdom, but only if you 'keep the top of your head open,' as the wisest of us all, the hopi say... yes, i lived with them for a while, too...

    one of my own 'greatest lines' is: Philosophy is not something you can learn, but you can learn to think philosophically.

    for more philosophy and wisdom [my own and many others']: http://www.saysmom.com/maia/content.asp?Writing=112
     
  12. indy5live
    Offline

    indy5live Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Houston
    In terms of critical thinking, it might be useful...but for the most part it's just playing devil's advocate to every scenario.
     
  13. Slappydappy
    Offline

    Slappydappy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2011
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    I believe so, yes. I've read most of the works of Plato, and works from a few others, and I can say I already feel smarter and wiser. Let me explain why. As Plato believed, there is a world of Opinion and Knowledge. Almost everything we say and do, everything we perceive, falls into the world of Opinion, not actual Knowledge. Understanding this, you can see that the physical world is constantly changing, and only unchanging principles have any "truth" to them, since they are eternal.

    How does this apply to real life? First off, it keeps you from believing assumptions about everything. It makes you realize that 99% of everything someone does, or says, it purely opinion (not Knowledge).

    Next time you read a political article online, you can start to pick it apart, and realize that nothing being said is actually true. This keeps you away from taking sides, and from getting involved in thoughts that are pointless. Instead of wondering about the morality of gay marriage or abortion, the wars, the economy, etc. you begin to roll your eyes at the arguments, realizing that people are simply arguing based on emotion, and that there is no right or wrong in these arguments.

    I read an ENTIRE article the other day about how the Republicans are trying to hurt the economy and blame in on Obama. The article used a lot of vague terms like "they" "them" "their" and other vague notions about people who may or may not even exist. There would have been a point a time ago where I would have nodded at everything I read in the article. Now I dismiss almost all of it as trash. I dismiss almost every single article I read on the net as trash, unless it's just relaying factual information (such as the plane crash in Nigeria).

    This is just the realm of Opinion. Once you see it for what it is, you truly are wiser, trust me. There is a day when you were passionate about something, and after reading much philosophy, you will realize how dumb your attachment to the many "shadows" in this world are.

    Most of what worried you, will simply pass by you. You will recognize that you don't really know a single thing, and can't prove anything either. And before you realize it, you will die, and none of the attachments even mattered.

    It's helped me immensely. I find I argue less with people, I get less emotional about things, and think more about finding knowledge or wisdom in things. I also find my math skills and other skills have gone up, even my writing skills a little bit. It's improved much of my life, even made me more confident in person.
     
  14. Mark_Archibald
    Offline

    Mark_Archibald Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    3
    Study philosophy in school?

    It'll put you in a room with a few wanna' be Shakespeare's. Makes a crabs in the bucket scenario.
     
  15. lex
    Offline

    lex Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    525
    Likes Received:
    32
    Yes, probably. Partly because people reading Philosophy books are likely to make fewer assumptions, and I think that tends to correlate well with an enhanced ability to understand the world better.

    I recommend "Sophie's World" by Jostein Gaarder as a pretty good and highly readable starting place and general overview. [​IMG]
     
  16. pinelopikappa
    Offline

    pinelopikappa Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Hellas
    Anything you learn is helpfull of course, but it matters how profoundly it makes you think. Intelligence, kinder heart? Some people study philosophy and all they get is knowledge, but no thought of their own. You should find something that really stays with you, makes you think, makes you use your brain more than before. After all, philosophy litteraly means the love for wisdom. What is wisdom, according to you? Start with that. Socrates would have.
     
  17. ithestargazer
    Offline

    ithestargazer Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    the big M, Australia
    Will studying philosophy make you wiser? Well that's a philosophical question in itself. As people have said above, philosophy is only one disciplinary area of many. I'd like to think that wisdom is attained throughout a lifetime of mistakes and successes, through reading, writing, observing, risk-taking and travelling. Most things can give you wisdom in one way or another. Scholarly and academic wisdom is something which I think is misunderstood sometimes as what wisdom looks like.

    I love what Cog said:

     
  18. growingpains
    Offline

    growingpains Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Maine
    I think it all really depends on what you do with what you learn. I mean, unless you're applying theory to practice then you're just walking around with all these words in your head. You can study philosophy and get insights on certain things but unless you draw you're own conclusions - rather than just accepting someone else's conclusions - then you won't really be any wiser. Wise people make their own opinions and ideas on the world. They don't listen to the opinions and ideas of others.
     
  19. mugen shiyo
    Offline

    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Liked :) This goes in my list of great quotes.

    I once heard wisdom is a habit or a consistent behavior, not a degree of knowledge. You can be very smart but do very foolish things. Therefore you are not wise. You can also be very knowledgeable of wrong things or wrong information also.
     
  20. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I agree with the first sentence here. I strongly disagree with the second. Wise people DO listen to the opinions and ideas of others, carefully consider them, and accept or reject them, in all or in part, according to their own lights. Blindly shutting out the opinions and ideas of others is a pretty sure path to ignorance.
     
  21. lallylello
    Offline

    lallylello Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Sunny England
    I agree with lex about Sophie's World - it's a great read and it will help you decide if you want to learn more about philosophy.
    Anything that makes you think is worthwhile as far as I'm concerned. It's too easy to surround yourself with like-minded people who never argue the opposing point with you.
    Studying philosophy is a different matter though, I had a friend who started a philosophy degree and they wanted him to regurgitate other people's opinions rather than introduce any ideas of his own. He got fed up and gave it up.
     
  22. Fullmetal Xeno
    Offline

    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,364
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Kingdom of Austniad
    For the most part, no. My sister took a philosophy class for the first time and she said it was the worst class she's ever taken. But i'd give it a shot anyway, you never know. I'm just going by what my sister experienced, so don't be discouraged.
     
  23. MatrixGravity
    Offline

    MatrixGravity Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    New York
    So I'm getting a lot of mixed feedback from you guys. Half are saying studying philosophy is beneficial, the other half is saying it's not worth spending time doing.. Then what should I do? I just want to expand my horizons and acquire a deeper level of knowledge of the world. I want to be the type of individual that others seek whenever they are troubled and need guidance. I just want to become more reliable, more wiser, I just want to grow and develop, and I want to just be more intelligent..
     
  24. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    NYC
    then become a bartender
     
  25. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Read some of the responses again. You get out of any study what you put into it. Just reading Plato or Spinoza won't make you wiser, but thinking hard about the work of these and other philosophers can help you. Also, when you read a classic philosopher, it helps a lot to have a first-rate commentary text to help you with the difficult parts, and there will always be difficult parts.

    That said, expanding your horizons and acquiring a deeper level of knowledge of the world will also involve getting out and meeting real people, traveling, reading history and current events (the world is really interesting these days - check it out!), etc. All of this takes time and a great deal of effort - honest, hard-thinking effort. A one-term college course in philosophy won't make you wise, especially if you do only the minimum of work needed to pass the exam. Lightly skimming one of the many survey-of-philosophy books available won't do it for you, either.

    So if you're serious about this, prepare yourself to take on a load of work for years, with your brain fully engaged and committed. Becoming wise is NOT easy. If it were, everybody would do it, and it's depressingly clear that they don't.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page