Monday, May 07, 2007

The Value of Learning

A little while ago, I was reading The Value of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell (from Problems of Philosophy). And now, it seems to be quite related to the previous post on finding powerful reason to learn.

Once upon a time, I was the biggest critic of philosophy. I couldn't understand it's appeal and thought it was totally useless. In fact Russell describes my old sentiment quite nicely:
[M]any men, under the influence of science or of practical affairs, are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than innocent but useless trifling, hair-splitting distinctions, and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible.
However, Russell goes on to describe that the main value of philosophy is to give us many different perspectives on even the most simple matters. In this way, we will not become so dogmatic in our ways, allowing us to accept the possibility of new ideas. (We should be humble in our knowledge.)

Russell writes in such a way as to make the idea of learning philosophy exciting and life-altering. I would tend to agree.

In a similar way, after reading this, I found that many of the benefits conferred upon learning philosophy apply to all learning in general. Our solutions to problems come from the framework of our knowledge. If we have many frameworks (if we know a lot from varied schools of thought), then will be able to find a greater number of creative solutions.

The quest for knowledge should not be limited only to one field, the sciences say, because then we will have only one perspective from which to view the world. In learning that there are more ways to perceive life, we are liberated.

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