What is Philosophy?
Philosophy, at its best, is the best of good advice. It’s care for the soul. It’s the art of living.
Etymologically, the word simply means the love of wisdom. And what, then, is wisdom? Good guidance, a proper perspective, the truth about living well, discernment, the ability to see beyond appearances to the realities beneath.
Philosophy is, globally, our collective treasure of great insights about the human journey.
It is, individually, every person’s responsibility to wonder and think and act well.
Philosophy, to the ancients, was a way of life, not just a mode of thought.
In our universities these days, philosophy is often presented as a fairly esoteric and abstract enterprise of rigorous thinking about human life, language, logic, and the world. It can become intricately difficult and immensely precise in its expressions. But untethered to the real issues of life, it always becomes a game, or a sport, for those who enjoy exercising their minds on the highest levels.
Throughout history, there have been two major traditions of philosophy, in the east and the west: Theoretical Philosophy, and Practical Philosophy. I believe that the purpose of theory is first and foremost to enhance practice. Because of that, I’ve taken it as my job for the past twenty-five years to rediscover and reclaim the relatively forgotten practical side of philosophy, sadly neglected for nearly a hundred years in favor of what, on the surface can look more like science, or mathematics. But scientists and mathematicians, like grocers and salesman and executives, and all the rest of us, are people living an adventure. And we all need good guidance for what comes next, whatever it may be.
That guidance is given by philosophy at its best. Philosophy, done right, and lived, can help us steer through our adventures properly, day to day.