Does Philosophy Help?

I kind of like to think that studying philosophy can help--e.g. by taking my class on the meaning of life, students can actually think better about life decisions, head in a better direction, etc.  Well, maybe ... at least some of the class has "helping" potential.  The trouble is, alongside my desire to think about real life issues and help, I also have a strong interest in puzzles, paradoxes, and philosophy just of the sake of philosophy.  We have done a lot of that this semester--lately entertaining three puzzles of existence that are just fun, if you have a slightly twisted sense of fun.  What's so bad about being dead?  What's so good about coming into existence?  Would it really be all that great to live forever?  People have to tackle these questions with a large helping of Woody Allen-esque black humor (see "Love and Death").  The problem  is, Real Life can step in and at least temporarily exclude the possibility of that kind of humor.    The life of a college student isn't always quite the carefree thing you'd want it to be. (Enough said...)

For philosophy in a very, very helping key, here's a new book by Mark Vernon.  It comes with a quiz. I haven't seen the book, but the chapter titles are enticing.  Cheerful too.  Not one chapter about death!


Right, there's a joke in there, relating to my poll.  My blog evidently doesn't have a lot of superatheist readers, but it's hard to say for sure. Over a thousand people visited the blog in the last week, but just 27 took the poll.


Wayne said...

I'm totally with you on the fun with the puzzles Jean. I've always thought that philosophy really appeals to the nitpicking geek in me. I've always been the sort to ask questions like, how the hell can the millenium Falcon completing the Kessel run in 12 parsecs be an impressive feat when parsecs are a measurement of distance? And of course I giddy myself over trying to puzzle out solutions (I'm pretty impressed with the Star Wars novelization's solution to the problem).

I think its the same with philosophy. I like banging my head against the gettier problem. Of course, I also like looking at ethical issues as well. But its the puzzle and the relishing over some of the clever arguments that make me really love it.

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