Opinion: Philosophy and its unrecognized importance

Carlyle Addy is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected] 

Carlyle Addy

You know all of those thoughts that you have in that space between turning off your phone for the night and actually falling asleep? You should share them with people.

Humans are naturally curious creatures. We want to know how things work. It stands to reason that we would be curious to know how knowledge itself works.

That’s where philosophy comes in.

There’s this perception in our culture that philosophy is synonymous with someone’s worldview, or that it’s just something cool that people think about.

We don’t really consider how it impacts us; how it is part of us.

There’s a quote from Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” saying, “There’s something to be said for hunger: at least it lets you know you’re alive.”

College students hunger for plenty of things: money, jobs, study hours, and fewer pop quizzes.

One of the things we should hunger for the most is knowledge. That’s what academia is designed for.

The answer to life is not on Google and it’s probably not 42. The answer to life probably isn’t a single answer, but a hundred more questions leading to a thousand other questions leading to even more questions.

Only after the collective of humanity finds every answer to every one of those questions will we understand what being alive really means.

The issue is that humanity doesn’t treat itself as a collective. We rarely share our deeper thoughts with each other, and when we do, it’s always a diluted version of those thoughts.

When you talk about philosophy, you’re talking about something all of us share. Something that not only makes up a part of us, but is made up of every part of us. There’s no way to separate philosophy from humanity, but we can ignore it and far too often we do.

Most majors require a basic psychology course as a core requirement.

Not every major encourages students to take an introductory philosophy course or even a class in critical thinking. We’re college students. We should be able to ask questions that don’t have answers and we should definitely be able to understand our own thought processes and find our own flaws.

I know suggesting yet another required class isn’t gaining me any points with my classmates here. All anyone wants to know is: Will this help me with my career? In the case of philosophy, the answer is probably a resounding no. That’s not the real issue at hand here, though.

No one is completely defined by their career, any more than they’re defined by their major while they’re in school. It’s a big part of your life, but it will never be your entire life.

Philosophy is that part of your life you are largely unaware of; those thoughts that come to you late at night that you never share.

If you have an elective spot to spare, taking a philosophy class might give a real voice and a name to the concepts you’ve been toying with. Someone else has probably written about them before and explained them in depth.  

Carlyle Addy is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].