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Personal Growth,  Science

Has Philosophy become an irrelevant subject?

If I ask you to do a degree on philosphy, will you do?

Most probably not. From a carrer point of view you might think

‘will there is even a job for philosophy degree?’

People do what most people around him/her do.

Tech is emerging so everyone want to do a degree in computer science.

Perhaps you don’t even know anyone among your friends who is studying philosophy.

Most young people today are not even aware of philosophy.

What is philosophy? Why should we study it?

What value does philosophy provide to the world?

I am sure these questions are never the topic of your discussion anytime.

Philosophy is not only becoming extinct from people’s minds but even scientists like Stephen Hawking, Neil Degrasse Tyson, etc are raising questions over the relevancy of philosophy in the modern world.

In one of his interview Stephen Hawking said-

“Most of us don’t worry about these questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics”

This comment ignited many debates among intellectuals about whether Philosophy is still a relevant subject or not.

But before diving into this discussion we must clarify first what exactly is philosophy as a subject and what is its relevancy?

Philosophy is the quest for understanding, of yourself and the world.

The word philosophy itself means love of wisdom.

It encourages you to think and ask deeper meaningful questions like

Who are you? Why are you here?

What’s your purpose in life? How can you lead a meaningful life?

What is logic? How should we behave?

In fact, Science and Philosophy are two faces of same coin.

Just like science, philosophy also encourages you to think critically before believing something.

What we today call Science was still called Philosophy all the way up to the 20th century.

In fact, the word ‘scientist’ didn’t exist until 1930.

People like Issac Newton, Galileo, Lavoisier, Maxwell, Darwin, etc were known as natural philosophers.

In those times people who worked on scientific streams were known as natural philosophers.

You might have read in textbooks that earlier scientists were known as natural philosophers.

There are many areas of philosophy.

There were no separate subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc. in earlier times.

The area of philosophy that dealt with Science was known as natural philosophy.

Similarly there are study of ethics, beauty, politics, etc in Philosophy.

But why are today debating about irrelevency of Philosophy?

Because some people including some modern scientists like Stephen Hawking, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and others have raised questions about the relevancy of philosophy at this age.

If you think carefully you will find that it has become extremely difficult for people of the 21st century to debate on philosophy.

We all feel that this is a fast modern age. People have no time to sit quietly and think about philosophical questions.

Maybe people feel that people like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle had plenty of time to sit on the streets of Athens and talk about philosophy.

Whether we talk about philosophy or not, the bigger question is whether it is useful or not?

I heard someone said ‘Science is just philosophy with better data which means philosophy is just science with less data

How true is that?

I would love to hear your opinion.

In fact. a lot of theories in physics are philosophy. Take for example Superstring theory.

SuperString theory conveys that we live in a multidimensional universe. Maybe there are multiple universes.

But it’s a theory at this point, there is data to proof this theory. Maybe in future it can be proved.

Similarly, Einstein’s theory that gravitational wave was a philosophy (backed by mathematics) until it was proven in 2016 that gravitational wave actually exists.

In fact, Einstein himself acknowledged the role of philosophy in his theories.

Einstein admitted the importance of 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume In developing his special theory of relativity.

He said in one of his letters-

“Without having reading Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, I cannot say that the solution would have come.”

Not only that, Albert Einstein was influenced by many other philosophers.

Science and philosophy go hand in hand. Albert Einstein had shown it long back.

The problem today is not with philosophy but the way we treat philosophy or it’s better to say the way today’s academic institutions treat philosophy.

Mario Bunge, a famous philosopher and physicist of this time (just died this year) wrote an excellent book on why philosophy needs to be treated in a different way than what we are doing today.

Has philosophy an irrelevant subject

There has been a rise of some pseudo-philosophy (just like pseudo-science) in recent times and people need to be aware of real philosophy vs pseudo-philosophy.

Pseudophilosophy relies on fallacious arguments to lead to a conclusion and based on factually false or undemonstrated premises.

Critical thinking has been considered one of the most important skills of today’s time.

Philosophy is all about thinking logically and critically about concepts and ideas.

With the rise of the tech industry, there is a high demand for people who can think critically on various subjects like morality, ethics, science.

Tomorrow there would be driverless cars on the street but with that, there would be a lot of questions on humanity and ethics.

You don’t have to be a philosopher to understand and apply philosophy in your daily life.

You just have to be able to tell good philosophy.

If you are interested to read some really good book on philosophy to begin with, you can read the following two books-

And if you are still skeptical about the relevancy of philosophy then remember the highest degree given in science or in any other subject is on philosophy.

There is a reason a Ph.D. is called Dr. of Philosophy.

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I would really love to hear your opinions on this matter.

Let me know on the comment section what you think on philosophy.

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    • Joy

      Thanks, Piyush for your compliment.
      I also wish the same thing.
      But even at this age, we can shape our minds to think like people in the renaissance era.

  • Mallika Dey

    Philosophy has another branch which is called ethics. So, I think this subject will be relevant as long as humanity exist.

    • Joy

      Not only because of ethics but philosophy as a subject has made humans think more clearly and deeply. As long as there are people who love to wander and imagine, philosophy would be regarded as a valuable subject.

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