Why study philosophy?

I have recently found some refections on the why we should study philosophy: according to Frederick Copleston,   if you like to be called an educated man or an educated woman, you cant’t ignore mankind’s achievements in philosophical discourse. If we really want to appreciate the work of some of the greatest Scholastic philosophers, the reference to Plato’s and Aristotle’s ideas must be accepted: so, in a certain sense, we can argue that all philosophy develops from Greek founders, as they gave lots of principles and the most premises of our way to think.   Professor Copleton said clearly that there is a sort of perennial philosophy, a sentence which can appear unbelievable an even exaggerate!

Plato’s bust

Thus means, in fact, to negate all the historical development of philosophy, because it remains at the same levels – and agrees the same conclusions too – of its own origin. This is an absurd statement, you can argue!

But Copplestone didn’t want to state something incredible, as if you have studied Plato and Aristotle, you could stop reading the following pages of philosophic History! It may well be that we have something to learn from modern thinkers, because not every principle was already completed neither in Hellenic period nor in Middle Ages. Discoveries can come from an insight subsequent to actuality or to reflections which underline a change in our point of view! But the germs of philosophy, the cradle of rationalist way of thinking, grew up in Ancient Greece, not everywhere else.


Somebody can believe that philosophy is a collection of relics from a dead past! Already Hegel neglected this persuasion! Hegel’s triad, the movement from a thesis to its antithesis and finally to the synthesis, wanted to demonstrate that every piece of philosophy, every step walked along the path of thought can’t be destroyed and threw out, but everything survives in the Spirit’s awareness.

Though, Kant stated that European Thought may be represented as littered with metaphysical systems, abandoned and unreconciled (Copleston, 1993 p. 3).  This conviction provokes in our students some attitude to escape from philosophic investigation. The common perception on History of thoughts is that you can collect lots of opinions, without deciding if there is anyone true: every position is challenged by another forward, so you can’t get verity at all! What a wrong prejudice in that statement.

If you don’t run the risk of proceeding down blind alleys, Copleston reports, you must learn from the mistakes of your predecessors, as you have to be minded that there always is something to learn from  every theory arisen to sunlight. In that sense, philosophy is a science, with logical proceeding, logical way to argue positions, because of the possibility of falsifiability.

Democritus' effigy

Hence we find novelty in the way of considering philosophy, in contrast to the false idea of collection of mistakes and littered speculation! Indeed, this latter position is overthrown. We can purify what is illogical and mistaken, as the Gospel suggests to separate the chaff from the grain: metaphorically, we can throw off everything wrong and maintain all elements necessary to elevate our Spirit to a real comprehension of Real. “The history of philosophy exhibits man’s search of Truth by the way of the discursive reason”, Copleston states.

There is some truth in every untruth. This discovery is essential to understand why we study philosophy. Anyway,the concept of discursive reason underlined by Copleston determine in ourselves some forward questions, because in philosophy we have to justify every word and every claim . What does discursive reason mean? Are there any bounds in this concept? Should we accept it doubtless?

These questions confirm but philosophy has a scientific basis, it grows on solid field, having a strong epistemological foundation. By man’s reason we are able to realize the research of truth!


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