Philosophy: Is it really that bad?

Olga Steblyk / Lead Photographer

My adoration of philosophy is something that I love to talk to others about. It has helped me understand my place in this weird and wonderful society, how to not only love myself but others in these trying times and how to fall in love with the absurd nature of this world.

However, when I talk about my love of philosophy, I am met with confusion and blatant annoyance at some points. I have never really understood why philosophy gets the hate it does. Having talked to others, the hatred of my beloved genre comes out of not fully understanding what it is.

Philosophy is such a broad word used to describe so many brilliant subgenres that deal with so many different topics. It can range from absurdism explaining how life’s purpose is to find what makes you happy in this absurd life to metaphysics trying to find what is real or not by processing what’s around us in nature. Besides from questioning life’s purpose and meaning, subgenres could be as simple as conversations over harming others or self-love, not all philosophers blab about life’s meaning and the existential questions that have been pondered for hundreds of years.

Another misunderstanding of philosophy is that it was only written by a bunch of dead white men. When talking to my one roommate, she said they are just long books written by a bunch of dead white men, so why would she read them? For the most part, a lot of popular philosophers are Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Plato and my personal favourite dead white man, Fredrich Nietzsche. However, there are so many wonderful philosophers that are people of colour and some of them are even still alive!

One of my favourite philosophers of colour is bell hooks. Being a Black woman who lived in America, her writings range from topics of gender, femininity, race, love and how these fit into society. Her writings do not use complicated language and are looking at perspectives of topics that are often missed in philosophical debates. The best part about hooks is her writing style, her way of writing captures the mind and feeds the soul. In her book, All About Love: New Visions, she writes, “Knowing love or the hope of knowing love is the anchor that keeps us from falling into that sea of despair.” How could you not just fall in love with that sentence?

Lastly, philosophy is what you make of it. Reading philosophy with a closed mind means you will get closed-minded results. This does involve some pondering for some philosophy, however, what you get out of it makes it all worth it. Take this quote from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: “The stench of decay. Rotting meat in a bag. Look at it clearly. If you can.” At first glance, you may think that it is the oddest quote that I could have found. But, when you look into it, he is writing about how the truth may not be the most appealing, but to look at it clearly to understand the reason of the ugly truth. If you just breeze past the quote, Aurelius seems like the writing of a madman, but there is meaning behind the odd wording and without trying to understand it, you will get nothing out of it.

Reading philosophy, I know, is not for everyone. Take my roommate for example, as I was talking to her about this piece, she said that although I make good arguments for philosophy, she is still not going to read it. So, in the end, as my last plea to you to read philosophy, I leave you with a prime example of a dead white man using Latin to convey a simple message. In the words of Nietzsche, “Sum, ergo cogito; cogito, ergo sum.”

This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 8 on Thursday, April 4.

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