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The Value of Philosophy

By now we have read Bertrand Russell on the 'Value of Philosophy.' Politically, Russell was to the left - pacifist, anti-militarist, egalitarian, to mention only three of his ideological position. He was a professed atheist. And, he was simply a half-educated intellectual - he was a profound and erudite student of philosophy - both of the history of philosophy and of philosophy as a problem-solving technique. He considered philosophy a most - perhaps the most - valuable experience. This should give you pause. How could he be mistaken?.

Maybe, he had certain qualities - of mind or psyche, for instance, patience - so that he could take to philosophy; in other words maybe, he was 'philosophical' or philosophically inclined or somehow able and ready to study philosophy FIRST, so tnat he could easily take to the study and practice of philosophy. Notice, however, the kind of claims he makes in his essay. He essentially claims that PHILOSOPHY actually gives you good qualities, even if you did not have those qualities originally: philosophy will make you aware that there are other things besides and beyond one's limited subjective perspective; this fosters tolerance; this, again, leads to an enlarged critical imagination; and this indeed makes one intellectually perceptive, more patient with ideas, more discerning in matters of detail, better in checking for the logic of arguments - in a word, more philosophical. It is like swimming, or playing a sport: the more you do it , the better you become at it - the more you become of it. Even Russell himself would lose most of his philosophical abilities if he stopped practicing philosophy - reading and thinking about philosophical problems.

Russellf also tells you something about the objections of practical people - those who are inclined in favor of, and aspire to do well in, business and in the various trades. What does Russell say about this? How are such people going to benefit from philosophy? Go back and reread his essay.