The True Value of Philosophy in Life…

For a lot of people, ‘Philosophy’ is a dirty word; conjuring feelings of boredom, images of dry dusty books, and memories of long forgotten classrooms.  It is a term that a lot of people file in the: ‘not useful’ and/or ‘not interesting’ section of their minds.

This is potentially, one of the gravest, and most dangerous of errors…

Why on earth would I say this?  And how could knowing anything about philosophy improve, not only your life, but also your experience of it?

These are some Good Questions.  To answer them, let me talk to you about…

Philosophy

Some people believe that they do not have a personal philosophy, but this is simply a matter of terminology.  Put simply, philosophy is: an internal framework of ideas about what is true. This includes: beliefs, values, and thoughts.  It is one of the 2 main things that determine:

  • what you do, and
  • why your life is the way it is.  

(The other being: your state of consciousness in the moment.)

This framework acts as a filter, thru which: every decision, every action and every behaviour passes.  In this way, in a very real sense, the shape of your life is really determined by the shape of your personal philosophy.  Imagine life is like icing on a cake, and the shape of your philosophy is the nozzle thru which it passes.  Change the shape of the nozzle, and you change the icing on the cake.

Where do the ideas that make up this framework come from?  All over the place.  Things we read, things we hear, things we think, things we see.  Something someone we respect tells us as a child.  They can literally come from anywhere.  Our own personal philosophies are a hodge-podge pile of best-fit ideas that seem to be true to us, culled from any and every source available.

And why do they stick?  Well, it’s part of the way we are built.  We crave certainty and we are always looking for mental shortcuts, (which is all an idea is, really).  If something is true for us, then we don’t need to continually think it thru every time we find ourselves in a relevant situation.  We can just ‘act as if’ and forego the thinking process.

Is this a bad thing?  Well, not necessarily.  In fact, it can be pretty useful.  It only becomes problematic if: we begin to believe that our ideas are objectively rather than subjectively true.  If we stop questioning them and allow them to crystallize into rigid internal dogma.  This is dangerous territory.  Because if we believe something is objectively true for all time, then it opens the door to some really wacky choices, decisions and behaviours.  If history shows us anything, it shows us that: human beings are willing to do some crazy shit, even to the point of harming other human beings, in order to defend an idea that they have decided is objectively true, in order to protect a fragile sense of internal integrity.

So, why is any of this Important?

Well, the double understanding that: a) each of us has a personal philosophy, which: b) is a framework of ideas that we believe, rather than know to be true, creates some fairly major wiggle room for growth and evolution.  This is a good place to be.  Philosophy should be ever-evolving and fluid, like life itself.

Some ideas are obviously more useful than others.  Interestingly, I have found in my own life that: the ideas that make me happiest, improve the quality of my life the most, and improve the well-being of those around me to the greatest degree, are often the truest ideas

This is something which, I believe, warrants deep consideration.


My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist.  If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music.  Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.

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148 Replies to “The True Value of Philosophy in Life…”

      1. Yes and I hope You are well, too :))
        Your attitude towards life and music is really great.
        When I have some more time I will read more of your articles.
        Thank you and go on with writting and making music :))

        Like

  1. As someone who studied philosophy at university I really appreciate this post. Everyone has a valuable philosophy to share and discussions about philosophy really make some of the most meaningful conversations i’ve had!

    Like

    1. I absolutely agree.
      I studied it as my major at university in London, and still think it was one of the best choices I ever made. The discussions I’ve had have literally informed and changed my life for the better. It’s priceless. ;-)
      I really like your blog and the direction you take in your writing. I particularly liked your post about the ‘fast that lasted not so long’. Are you training to be a yoga instructor?
      Thanks for getting in touch, ;-)
      Hope you are well,
      – J

      Like

      1. It absolutely is it makes you realise what’s important and question everything which is so transformative!
        Thank you very much I appreciate that a lot.
        I’m currently training to be a yoga instructor i’m about to go out to Croatia to do it there so i’m excited for doing that.
        There will be a lot more posts about my fasting, Ayurveda, yoga and philosophy coming!

        Thanks for checking out my blog
        Namaste,
        Helen WAP

        Like

        1. I really does ;-)
          Good luck with the training and qualification. That is a good thing to do.
          I spent a bit of time in Croatia, it’s an exceedingly cool country filled with friendly people.
          Good to meet you. Have a great day.

          Like

  2. You know… I used to hate philosophy in high school :) If only the teacher would have talked to us like you write here :)
    Great article :)

    Like

    1. I really take that as a very great complement. Thank you so much.
      It is strange how being forced to study something so often kills any chance of discovering the value in it for ourselves isn’t it?
      I am now doubly glad you stopped by. ;-)
      Hope you are having a great day,
      – J

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  3. First Time reader. I love the language you use and how articulate your philosophy is presented. I’m already of fan of your writing style and writing voice.

    James I agree that philosophy is not only necessary but detrimentally for society if the basic tenants are ignored. Nothing is more frustrating than to hear someone discredit philosophy mis-using a philosophical argument or proposing a logical fallacy. When generations upon generations ignore the discipline of philosophy it breeds societies steeped in self-refuting worldviews and who have no idea why they believe what they say they believe it.

    Having said that, I want to challenge you on some of your propositions:
    “It only becomes problematic if: we begin to believe that our ideas are objectively rather than subjectively true. If we stop questioning them and allow them to crystallize into rigid internal dogma.”
    -I think you are talking about Relativism, where Truth and Reality are subjective to everyone’s personal preference or worldview. If I am misrepresenting what you are saying (it is late as I am writing this.ha), let me know so I can address it correctly.

    Here is my question, It is objectively true that Truth is subjective to and for everyone, or can it be relatively true for some but others can have objective truth?

    It seems to me that you are saying Truth is relative, objectively…meaning there is no alternative conclusion to your proposition. It appears to be a self-refuting statement. Are there any exceptions to your statement? Is your subjective belief objectively true, or is it only true to you? is so, then it only becomes true for me if I belief it for myself. The fact that you belief it or have any beliefs at all are irrelevant to my worldview and beliefs. Even agreement or a concert of like beliefs meaning nothing to each other and are independently verified. The number of like beliefs can not validate nor can it invalidate simply by majority rule.

    My life experience and the effects of my actions, reactions, and environment help shape my worldview but that doesn’t mean it is true, just because I believe it or it “works for me”. I honestly don’t think your solution is viable or sustainable. Just because I belief something doesn’t make it true, though I may think its true in that moment.

    The post-modern foundation of your argument seems like it alleviates people and cultures the chance for calcified corruption of cult-ish nonsense, but instead it creates an atmosphere of chaos and untenable uncertainty. Where the real impasse comes is when there are two antithetical or opposing beliefs that according to Relativism have to be true. eg. I think that there is objective truth, and I believe that that objective truth is true (whether I belief it or not)… but you say that my truth is relative and only true for me. You might be right. I might be right. We might both be wrong, but we can’t both be right. This also starts down the path of the difference between information and knowledge, and epistemology and ontology.

    I have been considering and wrestling this question for a while and would love an honest reply. If this seemed flippant or biting it was not. I am trying to work through my thoughts and philosophical notions until I can articulate and express them logically and comprehensively. I also challenge the notion that philosophy fluid, there by the truth is ever changing (I think that was your point). I believe truth is objective and absolute, and we are constantly having to challenge our perceptions and perspectives to allow us to understand truth more clearly than we do today. Some of our choices take us further from Truth, and some take us closer, but we must never stop wrestling our thoughts and beliefs. I don’t ever trust someone who refuses to question what they know and why they think they know it. We are so limited in our time in existence that we cannot let fear and pride weigh us down into “Crystallized rigid dogmas”.

    I welcome any one else to respond as well.

    ps. I am going to check out your album right now! I wish you the best in your future…from one independent artist to another! ;)

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    1. Hey there ;-)
      I am really happy you stopped by. Thankyou so much for your obviously well-thought out comment and question, you have obviously been pondering this for quite a while – which I applaud greatly. ;-)
      I will try and be as clear as possible.
      I think that you hit the nail on the head in your last paragraph when you said that it is your belief that some choices move us closer to truth and some move us further away. This is, I feel, the crux of the thing.
      Personally, I think that while you can potentially know truth thru direct experience, whenever you are operating from, or lost in a system of conceptual thought, you are moving away from ‘what is’.
      I don’t believe that you can arrive at a conceptual framework that is Absolute Truth. Knowledge can ‘have truth’ but never ‘be truht’ as truth is something found only in the living moment, which exists separate from conceptual knowledge. I DO believe however that the frameworks that we necessarily build, thru the mechanism of the mind, can be closer to or further from truth. That our beliefs and values can have more or less of the quality of truth, and that it is a worthy thing to constantly pursue this evolution of thought. The danger lies in thinking that the system of thought is either: all there is, or the end rather than simply the means to truth. Ultimately, it needs to be like the raft that takes one over the river. Useful, but to be left once the other side is reached.
      I hope that’s clear. ;-)
      I am glad to make your acquaintance. Please let me know what you think of the album, from your previous comment I think I would really value your feedback.
      Have a great day my friend,
      – J

      Like

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