Yes, Philosophy is Practical.

The single most common question I get about my choice to study Philosophy is whether it is practical: “What do you do with that?”

My answer is – EVERYTHING.

Philosophy is a tool, but more than that, it is a more deliberate and deliberative way of using other mental faculties.

What exactly does Philosophy offer us?

  • Philosophy guides, organizes and disciplines our curiosity
  • Philosophy prompts us to ask about the nature of our world and how things work
  • Philosophy exposes our subjective bias and protects us from making hasty decisions
  • Philosophy helps us become more virtuous people (we need all the help we can get)
  • Philosophy trains us to constantly ask, “How could I approach this differently and do it better?”

With such obvious benefits, how could we not all choose to pursue Philosophy at some level?

Yes, there are those who think that perpetually playing the devil’s advocate and making snarky remarks is what philosophy is really about. There is no love of wisdom in that.

Real philosophy gets stuff done.


Wanted: An Unpractical Man

There is a temptation in any high-pressure situation to act immediately.  This is understandable and natural.

But it would be untrue to elevate this ability to act quickly over and against the ability to act after deep and thorough consideration.

Personally, I think the ability to act quickly is only a positive thing when one has a practice of careful reflection needed to effectively guide and empower such action.

We tend to rush through life, decisions and experiences, assuming we grasp and understand them at face value.  There is a face value to things, but there is always more.  And that is why sometimes it is important to have the discipline to be impractical.

To be a truly effective decision maker, one needs both urgent practicality and disciplined impracticality.

There has arisen in our time a most singular fancy: the fancy that when things go very wrong we need a practical man. It would be far truer to say, that when things go very wrong we need an unpractical man. Certainly, at least, we need a theorist. A practical man means a man accustomed to mere daily practice, to the way things commonly work. When things will not work, you must have the thinker, the man who has some doctrine about why they work at all. It is wrong to fiddle while Rome is burning; but it is quite right to study the theory of hydraulics while Rome is burning. –Chesterton, What is Wrong with the World, Wanted: An Unpractical Man