What Is Philosophy For?

(This multimedia presentation was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, March 7, 2015.)

This brief video does a good job of answering its title question. It was produced by London based The School of Life which “is devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture. We address such issues as how to find fulfilling work, how to master the art of relationships, how to understand one’s past, how to achieve calm and how better to understand, and where necessary change, the world.”

The School of Life tries to bring philosophy backs to its roots—as a search for wisdom. Thus the school isn’t interested in esoteric philosophical problems, but in how philosophical insight can help us to live well. The video is divided into five parts.

1) Philosophers should ask questions about life’s meaning, and how to find inner peace.
2) Philosophers should question so-called common sense.
3) Philosophers should seek self-knowledge.
4) Philosophers should teach us how to live well.
5) Philosophers should do all of the above publicly.

Having spent more than 40 years in the academy, I can attest to the disappointment at how detached much of academic philosophy is from the concerns of life. I applaud the School of Life for its effort and I will try to continue this blog’s focus on big questions like: What does is all mean? Who am I? How do I know myself? How do I transform myself? Well, here we go.

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