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The Importance and

Relevance of Philosophy
 Philosophy should be an Educational Requirement in High School & College
 Objections to its Importance
 Should you take a Philosophy Major/Subject?
Philosophy needs to be a requirement in high school and as part of “general education” in college within the
USA. It is important that everyone (a) know more about being reasonable and (b) know more about being moral.
Both reasonableness and morality are of the utmost importance and are the specialization of philosophy. I will
discuss (1) the importance of philosophy education, (2) evidence that philosophy benefits people, (3) defend
philosophy, and (4) make a suggestion about the sort of philosophy requirements we could introduce to high
schools and colleges.

1. Why Philosophy Education is Important

There are two main philosophical fields that are of the utmost importance to us: Reasonableness and morality.

 Reasonableness

Learning to be reasonable is of utmost importance because we all have to make choices and accomplish
goals. Being reasonable enables us make good choices, accomplish our goals, live a better life, and become
better people. Just about everyone knows that other people are often unreasonable and could benefit from
taking classes that specialize in reasonableness, like logic; but almost everyone is biased about their own
reasonableness. We can often see the shortcomings of others, but not of ourselves. If “everyone else” should
learn to be more reasonable, than so should we.

“Reasonableness” is the essence of philosophy and it can be taught in the specializations of logic (good
argumentation) and epistemology (the study of knowledge). Everyone is already a philosopher insofar as
they are reasonable, and everyone does some philosophy insofar as they think reasonably. However, no
one is perfectly reasonable and philosophy has a lot to offer. There are many mistakes people make that
roadblock their ability to be reasonable known as “fallacies” and a greater understanding of reasonableness
can help us improve our ability to be reasonable because we can do so deliberately rather than merely
believing whatever “seems reasonable” in an intuitive sense.

Learning to be more reasonable can be aided by an understanding of good argumentation, formal logic
(argument structure), informal logic (common unjustified assumptions and other fallacies), reading
philosophical arguments, writing philosophical arguments, and practice philosophical debate.

The fact that people don’t learn enough about reasonableness is exemplified by (a) our increased interest
in “critical thinking,” (b) the fact that we aren’t always getting enough “critical thinking” in our education,
and (c) common unreasonable beliefs and behaviors.

The fact that we are interested in “critical thinking” already reveals how unreasonable we are because
“critical thinking” is such a general and meaningless word. Someone with “critical thinking” doesn’t
necessarily know how to think well. “Thinking well” is more about being reasonable than “critical.” I’m not
against critical thinking, but learning about critical thinking is about lowered standards. If we know how to
be reasonable, we know how to think critically (and more). If we know how to think critically, we don’t
necessarily know how to think reasonably.

The fact that we aren’t always getting enough “critical thinking” in our education is a preoccupation of
many educators and it exemplifies the fact that we are a long way from expecting people to know how to be
reasonable. One extensive study lead by Richard Arum found that “critical thinking, complex reasoning and
written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education” and I suggest
that philosophy could very well help considering that he found that “[s]tudents who majored in the
traditional liberal arts—including the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics—
showed significantly greater gains over time than other students in critical thinking, complex reasoning
and writing skills.”

Common unreasonable beliefs and behavior is revealed by the manipulative behavior of politicians,
propagandists, and advertising agencies that try to deceive people by using flawed reasoning and quite
often succeeded. Deception in politics is described in “Top 10 Logical Fallacies Used in Politics.” Deceptive
advertising is described in detail in the wikipedia article on false advertising. Much of the deception and
propaganda found in the US media was discussed in the free movie, PsiWar, which is on youtube.

 Morality

Morality is of the utmost importance because our decisions can have a powerful impact on ourselves and
others. Our decisions can help or hurt people. We want less criminals, more people to help the poor, less
CEOs who dump toxic waste in third world countries, more people to demand that the government stop
handing out billions of dollars to oil companies in “subsidies,” less corrupt cops and politicians, less judges
who accept bribes, and so on.

Those who “specialize” in morality are philosophers. A reasonable understanding of morality is known as
“moral philosophy” and “ethics.” Philosophers provide us with moral theories and the most reasonable
methods of making moral decisions. In particular, we need to apply reasonableness to morality.
Learning to improve our ability to be moral can be aided in much the same way as learning to be
reasonable in general, but applied to morality in particular. We can learn moral theories, read moral
philosophy, write our own philosophical arguments involving morality, and debate moral issues with
philosophical guidance.

Although philosophers don’t always agree about what action is “right” or “wrong,” they offer the most we
can hope for. There is no better alternative to understanding morality than through moral philosophy.
Being reasonable doesn’t require agreement, it requires us to have “sufficiently justified” beliefs.

Additionally, moral education not only can help people become moral by getting people to think more
about morality (and learn to think reasonably about it), but also because we can learn about psychological
factors that help motivate people to be moral. We can teach these factors or implement them when
possible. For example, we can learn how to nurture our empathy for others and stop behaviors or lifestyles
that neglect it.

The fact that morality is of the utmost importance and we can become better people is not what I would
consider to be a controversial fact. The fact that moral education has not been considered to be important
enough to be an educational “requirement” in high school or college is an outrage.

2. Evidence that philosophy benefits people

 Scientific evidence

There is some scientific evidence that philosophy can benefit people (mainly in the form of statistical
information). Statistics have shown philosophy majors to do well in a variety of standardized test score, and
even children around the age of ten were found to have benefited from philosophy education:

One hundred and five children in the penultimate year of primary school (aged approximately ten years) were
given one hour per week of philosophical-inquiry based lessons for 16 months. Compared with 72 control
children, the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and
spatial abilities at the end of the 16-month period relative to their baseline performance before the study…
Now Topping and Trickey have tested the cognitive abilities of the children two years after that earlier study
finished, by which time the children were nearly at the end of their second year of secondary school. The
children hadn’t had any further philosophy-based lessons but the benefits of their early experience of
philosophy persisted. The 71 philosophy-taught children who the researchers were able to track down showed
the same cognitive test scores as they had done two years earlier. By contrast, 44 control children actually
showed a trend towards deterioration in their inferior scores from two years earlier.

I must admit that science has not proven all of the benefits of philosophy education once and for all, but the
demand for scientific evidence that philosophy education helps people become more reasonable is a lot like
demanding that historians can prove that history education helps people know more about history. Assuming
that historians know anything about history, it would mark a complete failure in history education if they
couldn’t help people know more about history. The same is true for philosophy. If philosophy classes can’t help
people know more about reasonableness or morality, then philosophy education would be a total failure.

 Historical evidence

Perhaps the strongest evidence that philosophy helps people is found in the real-life impact it has had
throughout history. It lead to formal logic, improvements in mathematics, computers, and natural science. The
fact that philosophy was involved in the progress of these fields is a matter of historical fact. Aristotle and the
Stoics developed formal logic. Formal logic is used by mathematicians and computers. Natural science is the
most reliable method of discovery other than logic and mathematics and it was originally a branch of
philosophy called “natural philosophy.”

3. Defending Philosophy

We have no choice but to embrace philosophy because of the role it plays in reasonableness and morality. It
is the best we can hope for in helping us be reasonable and moral deliberately rather than merely intuitively.
Without philosophy we should expect people to be unreasonable, immoral, dogmatic, and fanatical. If we think it is
impossible to know anything about reasonableness and morality, then we can’t demand that people be reasonable
or moral—but certainly we do make those demands and will continue to do so. If we want to demand that people
accept certain moral commandments, then we must know why it is reasonable to accept those commandments. We
can’t demand that everyone trust our moral commandments without a good argument any more than we can be
expected to accept the moral commandments of others without a good argument. And if we are expected to accept
a “good augment,” we have to know something about what makes an argument reasonable.
There are various objections people give to philosophy that might explain the mysterious oversight concerning
why philosophy has been taken out of our educational requirements rather than included in them. In particular, (a)
people argue that philosophy doesn’t lead to knowledge because even philosophers disagree and (b) people
confuse argumentation with unproductive hostile human interaction.

Does philosophy lead to knowledge?

First, people often think in black and white terms. They think “philosophers haven’t figured it all out yet, so what’s
the point? Why should I trust them?” The point isn’t that you should trust philosophers like a religious leader.
Instead, you should realize that philosophers have spent their entire lives thinking about many issues and have
built their life’s work on the knowledge of philosophical history—the life’s work of many other philosophers
spanning thousands of years. You can benefit from the thoughts of philosophers precisely because it can save you
the time of having to think of everything yourself. You don’t have to agree with the philosopher’s conclusions, but
the arguments philosophers give are relevant to what we should believe.

Second, I think philosophy can lead to knowledge. I have discussed philosophical knowledge concerning
reasonableness and morality. People often confuse knowledge with certainty. I know that I have two hands, but I
could be wrong. I might actually be having a dream that makes me believe that I have two hands. All the same, it is
very likely that I have knowledge that I really do have two hands based on my ability to reason and observe the
world. I agree that philosophy doesn’t lead to certainty, but it might lead to knowledge. Some people might think
“moral knowledge is impossible” but I’m not convinced for reasons I discuss here.

Third, “knowledge” might be more than we need. We don’t need to attain knowledge concerning reasonableness or
morality to warrant the fact that we should learn about these topics. It is possible to have justified beliefs, even
when two people disagree. One person can think bigfoot exists and another can think it doesn’t exist—and it’s
possible that both people’s beliefs are sufficiently reasonable and justified. That doesn’t mean all beliefs are up for
grabs. Some beliefs are unreasonable. It’s not reasonable to reject evolution based on the extensive evidence in
biological science nor is it reasonable to trust a holy book over extensive scientific evidence.

Is argumentation an unproductive hostile interaction?

People think “debating” politics, religion, and morality is a waste of time and is little more than an emotional power
struggle or “we have a right to believe whatever we want.” People think it’s oppressive to “tell others that they
should agree with you” and it’s impossible to be reasonable about these things or to convince another person to
believe something because it’s “reasonable.” I don’t see any reason to believe such a position—and it is impossible
to have any reason to agree with it.

I have two responses to this position. First, if it’s impossible to believe something based on good reasoning, then
we have no reason to believe “it’s impossible to believe something based on good reasoning.” Second, we have
reason to reject this position because we do have reasonable beliefs based on good reasoning. We should believe
that we have hands because we observe we have hands. We should believe that torturing people is wrong without
a very good reason for doing it because we know how horrible it is to feel pain. And so on. Perhaps the best reason
to agree that some beliefs are more reasonable than others is attained when we have experience with good
arguments. I attempt to give uncontroversial examples of good arguments in my free book “What is Philosophy?”
(PDF)

Why do people have so much resistance to philosophy?

I have four suggestions:

One, many people simply don’t know philosophy exists (as a field of research). Philosophy has been removed from
our education to the point that many people don’t know about it anymore. People can’t talk about the importance
of philosophy education because they don’t even know about it.

Two, they haven’t learned to think perfectly, so some of their beliefs are unreasonable—including the belief that
philosophy is a waste of time. They are used to thinking in simple terms. If we don’t know for sure who is right,
they think they are entitled to keep their “unjustified beliefs” because “no one can prove they are wrong.” Of
course, this is asking too much. We don’t always have to prove someone wrong in order to prove that their belief is
unreasonable. I might believe that aliens live on Jupiter and no one can prove me wrong, but there is no good
reason to have that belief. It’s unreasonable because there is reason to think life can’t exist there. Not all beliefs are
“up for grabs” even though we can’t prove everything for certain.

Three, philosophical language has been corrupted. Words like “argument” have an important meaning in
philosophy, but now they have a different meaning. For example, “argument” is now synonymous with
“unproductive hostile interaction” involving insults and so forth. This cripples our ability to communicate about
the reasonableness of beliefs or even have philosophical thoughts, and it encourages people to equivocate words.
People often use the word “argument” in a sense quite close to the philosophical meaning—a method of being
reasonable—but it is assumed that even “intellectual” arguments are “unproductive hostile interactions” just like
the immature yelling and screaming we have observed. In fact, philosophical arguments can and do lead to bitter
feelings despite the fact that they aren’t always unproductive or meant to offend people. Disagreement is like being
told “you’re wrong,” and many of us feel like being wrong is a weakness. It’s often embarrassing to “be wrong” and
many of us think we are “better people” if our beliefs are true and based on better reasoning than the beliefs of
others.

Four, many people might reject philosophy and the possibility of being reasonable in favor of the belief that
“everyone is entitled to their own beliefs” because they don’t want to offend anyone. As I said above, many of us
feel like “being right” makes a person superior to those who are “wrong,” and we can avoid offending anyone by
saying “all beliefs are equal” so that we can also say “all people are equal.” This is an egregious and dangerous kind
of “political correctness” that makes it impossible to judge criminals or punish the people in power who harm
many people.

The fact that many people are either unimpressed with philosophy or don’t know about it was discussed in more
detail in “The Marginalization of Philosophy.”

4. A Suggestion for Philosophy Educational Requirements

It’s hard to say how much philosophy should be required for our education because it must compete with other
priorities and we have limited resources. We can’t require everyone actually become philosophers, but we can
require that they know a minimally satisfying amount of philosophy. I propose the following:

High school philosophy requirements

Philosophy should be taught in English classes. It need not “compete” with any class and no class needs to be
removed from our high school education. Philosophy requires us to read and write. That is possible in English
class. The main switch here is merely what we read and write. The idea that high school students can’t read or
write philosophical content is insulting and absurd. People have to start somewhere, and high school students
aren’t mindless fools.
I don’t demand that philosophy be the primary content of English classes. It can be slowly introduced to students.
Freshman should be ready to learn the basics of argumentation and some logical fallacies, Sophomores could read
their first philosophy book and be guided through the thinking process (involving premises and conclusions),
Juniors can learn a little formal logic rather than how to “diagram sentences,” and Seniors can write their first
philosophy paper.
At least some of the philosophical discussion should involve morality.
College philosophy requirements

Philosophy should be part of our “general education” in college.


We should require students to take both an introduction to philosophy class and an ethics class.
Conclusion
We need to learn philosophy not only for our own good, but for the good of others. We want everyone to be moral
and reasonable. It’s not hard to admit that many people should take classes to improve their ability to reason and
be moral. It’s not hard to admit that these are very important subjects for people to learn. It’s a bit mind boggling
that these subjects have been removed rather than added from our education, but there have been powerful forces
of resistance against philosophy—people either don’t know about philosophy or they find it offensive.

5. Objections?

I have now encountered several objections to the idea that philosophy should be a requirement in high school, so
that will be my focus here. Most of these objections were provided in a philosophy discussion forum on facebook. I
will describe the objections, and then respond to them below. The first nine of these objections are not serious and
I think they are quickly dispelled. The final four objections target my specific ideas about implementing philosophy
in high school as part of our English classes. That’s a much more difficult issue and I can’t say for absolute certain
that my suggestion is the best one possible. However, I think my suggestion is one of the better options we have,
and it’s modest enough to be a realistic goal.

 High school students can’t learn philosophy.


The objection: Philosophy is too hard for high school students to learn. We can’t expect them to read what
the world’s greatest minds think at this stage in their life.

My reply: First, we often underestimate how much students can learn. It’s insulting to just assume that they
are stupid. Second, children of all ages have been learning philosophy for decades, and the classes and
reading materials are directed for the appropriate age groups. Children can learn a lot about good
reasoning by discussing philosophical issues at a young age without having to know who Socrates is or
various abstract theories.

 No amount of education will make people be reasonable or moral.

The objection: People will be unreasonable and immoral, even if they learn about philosophy, logic, and
ethics.

My reply: The purpose of education isn’t just perfection, it’s progress. I agree that philosophy can’t make
people be reasonable or moral, but it can help. In fact, there are proven benefits to philosophy. I have
already discussed some of them. Philosophy even has proven benefits for young children including
improved test scores, mathematical ability, and other cognitive abilities. “The Educational Testing Service
evaluated the Lipman philosophy program in 1981… Tests on a cross section of 4,500 fifth and sixth
graders in Newark public schools showed that those exposed to the program gained as much as a half year
in reading, mathematics and and reasoning skills over those who did not take the philosophy program.”1
Go here for more information.

 Philosophy corrupts the youth.

The objection: Philosophy can teach students to question authority figures including their parents. They
might demand reasons and arguments, and they might wonder about the qualifications of authority figures.

My reply: There is little evidence that philosophy has significant negative effects on students. Insofar as
philosophy teaches us to be reasonable, it can teach us to question authority and demand arguments. It
makes sense for us to question the qualifications of our authority figures. Philosophy students are quite
aware that there can be consequences for disobedience, and it might be a good idea to remind them that
many people don’t take kindly to being questioned. Of course, authority figures shouldn’t be threatened by
being questioned and being required to act reasonably—and teaching them philosophy when they are
young can help them understand that fact.

 Philosophy can teach students to be relativists.

The objection: Many teaching philosophy to children tell the children to respect everyone’s opinion, to be
tolerant of others, and that all opinions are equal. This might make students relativists—people who think
all opinions are equal or truth is different for each person.

My reply: How exactly teachers do their jobs is and ought to be greatly up to them. I personally am against
relativism and I think relativism is very destructive to philosophy. The whole point of philosophy is that
some opinions are unreasonable and can be refuted, but others are reasonable and justified. We prefer
justified beliefs to unjustified ones. Many philosophy teachers tackle relativism to help students
understand why it’s unreasonable and should be rejected, and that could go a long way in preventing
students from becoming relativists. Additionally, I think many teachers are already instructing students to
be relativists and that philosophy is the best way to combat this menace.

 Philosophy causes emotional distress.

The objection: Philosophy can be too upsetting because it can destroy a student’s worldview. It can give us
existential angst and question the meaning of life.

My reply: Finding out that we are wrong or unreasonable is painful—and that’s a good thing. It helps
motivate us to improve ourselves and our beliefs. Avoiding pain at all costs can lead to fanaticism and
unreasonable beliefs. That’s exactly what I don’t want. The emotional pain of philosophy is a worthy
sacrifice for the benefits that it gives us.

 Adding philosophy to our education is too much.


The objection: High school kids already have too much to deal with. Adding philosophy to the mix will be
too hard on them.

My reply: First, if philosophy is taught instead of something else, then no more work is given to high school
students. For example, English classes can teach some symbolic formal logic instead of how to diagram
sentences; and they can have students read a philosophy book instead of a novel. Second, many studies
indicate that high school students are now learning less than they were before. Some studies have also
shown that colleges expect less of college students than they did in the past, and the students are learning
less as a consequence. Third, I don’t think anything comparatively important will be lost from an English
class that teaches philosophy. English classes at the high school level teach a little grammar, how to
diagram sentences, how to interpret poetry, reading, and writing. Reading and writing is the most
important thing taught in English, and students can read and write philosophy. Additionally, even a
philosophy class can easily remind students about the rules of grammar.

 Philosophy is a specialist field and not everyone cares about it

The objection: Philosophy is too abstract, boring, and disconnected from reality; or it’s just one specialist
field among many.

My reply: First, I already implied an answer to this, but I will say it again. Good reasoning and being a moral
person are not just specialist fields; it’s something important to everyone. We all want others to be
reasonable and moral, even if we personally don’t want to be reasonable or moral. The unreasonableness
and poor moral character of others can be dangerous to everyone. Second, philosophy can be applied to
just about anything. Engaging philosophical discussion is not merely abstract or disconnected from reality,
it can be interesting and relevant to everyone.

 Teachers are unqualified to teach philosophy.

The objection: We can’t let teachers tell students right from wrong or how to be moral because teachers
don’t know. Some teachers will use the class to teach their personal moral beliefs to the class.

My reply: First, this issue is not insurmountable. Sometimes adjustments need to be made in our
educational system and it might take some time to make the changes. It’s not impossible to encourage
teachers to learn more about philosophy. Second, there are plenty of philosophy majors out there who need
jobs and would be happy to fulfill a new role in society. Third, philosophy isn’t always about being qualified.
Philosophical discussion can help students learn how to improve their thinking, even if the teacher isn’t a
philosopher. One teacher said, “’I say to children that my opinion counts as much as theirs,” which makes
me wonder about her qualifications, but the philosophy program she was involved with was quite
successful (ibid.). Fourth, philosophy teachers aren’t supposed to be teaching students what to think about
various moral issues and are instead supposed to teach them how to think about moral issues for
themselves in a rational manner. Some teachers already use classes to indoctrinate children, and
philosophy is probably the best way to combat mindless and irrational forms of indoctrination.

 There’s no right or wrong in philosophy!

The objection: Philosophers have all sorts of opinions and they don’t agree about anything. Philosophy
can’t give us knowledge.

My reply: I have already dealt with this objection in the original discussion. To repeat, this is a vast
misunderstanding of philosophy. Philosophy can provide us with knowledge. Our knowledge of formal
logic is just one example of the high degree of certainty that philosophy can provide us with, but our
knowledge need not always be known for certain.

 Nothing should be an educational requirement.

The objection: There’s something wrong with mandatory education. Students forced to learn will get bored,
feel like a slave, etc. It might not be possible or wise to force people to learn something against their will.

Reply: First, this might be true. If so, philosophy should be taught as an optional class in high school along
with other highly important classes, such as English, history, and mathematics. Second, we think it’s
important that high school students reach certain standards so that we know that their education counts
for something similar to meeting various requirements to get a college degree. Philosophy offers us
improved reasoning and moral understanding that are of the utmost importance. It’s important for
philosophy to be taught so that high school students can prove that they have met meaningful standards,
even if it’s not required.
 It’s not enough. We need philosophy as its own class.

The objection: The idea of teaching philosophy in a class only part of the school year and spending the rest
of the year on “English” (grammar, reading novels, interpreting poetry, etc.) isn’t enough. It would be better
to teach philosophy for the entire school year because it’s so helpful.

My reply: First, this might be true. My idea of making English into philosophy classes is pragmatic. It’s more
modest to only ask for some philosophy in English classes rather than require all high school students to
learn philosophy all year round. Second, it might be possible to turn English classes into philosophy classes
entirely. The philosophy classes would be required to teach students reading, writing, and some grammar
in addition to philosophical ideas. I don’t think this would detract from philosophical learning because
reading and writing should be taught in philosophy classes anyway. To know how to think philosophically
can be greatly improved through reading and writing about philosophy. Many philosophy classes in college
already require reading and writing, and they can even fulfill English requirements now and then.

 High school students shouldn’t be forced to learn formal logic.

The objection: Formal logic shouldn’t be taught because it’s too abstract and we can learn to be reasonable
without it.

My reply: Although logic is abstract and we can learn be reasonable without it, I personally think formal
logic can greatly help us be reasonable. I explain why here, and a study provides evidence that formal logic
can greatly benefit students. Formal logic need not be detached from our lives. We can learn how to apply
formal logic to our arguments and everyday reasoning. Of course, we can try to teach students philosophy
in all sorts of ways to find out for ourselves the best way to do it. Many philosophy teachers have found
logic to be very important in the past, and logic was developed precisely because it was part of knowing
what it means to be a reasonable person. It seems likely to me that high school students would benefit from
at least some education in logic for the reasons that I gave in the above discussion, but further research
could potentially prove me wrong.

 Philosophy is already taught in high school.

The objection: We learn philosophy in English, science, and history. We learn ethics when we are taught to
be kind to one another, and we learn logic when we learn mathematics.

My reply: Some great teachers might introduce some pretty deep philosophy in their classes, such as formal
logic in math classes. However, that is not the norm. It is true that some reasoning does occur in various
high school classes, but it is not what I would call “philosophy.” Unintentionally being philosophical is not
the same thing as being truly philosophical—to intentionally attempt to be reasonable through
argumentation, justification, and debate. I want students to find out what philosophy is as an area of study
and what it means to try to be reasonable. I want students to actually read some philosophical essays or
books at some point in their education. I want students to actually spend time dwelling on important
ethical issues and learn how to apply formal logic to arguments. I want students to actually practice reading
and writing philosophical ideas.

Conclusion

Objections to teaching philosophy in high school greatly reveal the need for it because they are based on
ignorance and irrational fear. Those who know philosophy well will not be impressed with them. However,
the best way to implement philosophy to our high schools is a difficult question. Some objections to my
suggestion that philosophy can become part of our English classes are quite relevant, but I think I have
good replies to those objections. In particular, I find my suggestion to be realistic, modest, and a great
improvement to the current educational system.

6. Should I Take A Philosophy Class? (And Should I Major in Philosophy?)


When deciding if you should take a philosophy class (or major in philosophy), you might want to ask
yourself what kind of an answer you want:

 Do you want an easy class? If so, it’s probably not a good idea.
 Do you want something enjoyable? If so, it depends on what you find enjoyable.
 Do you want to find out about subjects that were marginalized or ignored in your high school education? If
so, you should take it.
 Should other people learn to improve their thinking and become better people? If so, then you should too—
and you should take the class.
 Do you want to take an important class? If so, then yes.
 The second two answers are the ones I will attempt to provide here.

Others should try to be better people, but so should you.

Do you want people to be gullible, close-minded, fanatical, criminal, irrational, or dim witted—or would you rather
they learn to be reasonable, open minded, moral, rational, and thoughtful? Philosophy helps change people for the
better. You might think philosophy is hard or depressing, but that’s a poor excuse to sacrifice the most important
part of your education. You think other people should try to be moral and rational—and it’s a lot harder to be
moral and rational without studying what the “experts” have to say. There are people who have spent their lives
thinking about morality and rationality—and studying what other people have to say about these topics who did
the same. It’s a lot easier to learn to be moral and rational through the years of experience of others than to try to
build it all from the ground up on your own. Terrorists and criminals tend not to be very rational or moral. We
don’t want people to be dirty cops, corrupt politicians, or immoral CEOs. If teaching people to be rational and moral
will help them avoid being horrible people, then everyone should be taking philosophy classes—including you.

That’s certainly not to say that philosophy has to be depressing. You can learn to be a better person and enjoy
attaining higher levels of consciousness. You can learn to make yourself and the world better. Philosophy can help.

Philosophy is important

Philosophy is important for many reasons including the following:

 It offers a degree of knowledge involving life’s biggest questions: Reasoning, logic, morality, and reality
itself. Knowledge seems to be worth pursuing for its own sake. It can be enjoyable just to attain some
knowledge—especially about life’s biggest questions.
 It can transform you into a better human being. You will learn to think for yourself, refute poor reasoning,
use better reasoning, consider various worldviews, and learn how to make the world a better place.
 You will learn to be “open minded” without being gullible, and “skeptical” without being “close-minded.”
 By learning to be reasonable, you will avoid being fanatical or reckless. You will be less likely to become a
criminal or horrible person.
 By learning about morality (ethics), you will learn something about what it means to live a meaningful life
and make the world a better place. This can be used. If we want the world to become a better place, we
need people to think about what goals are worth having and how to accomplish them. Philosophy is the
best way to do that.
 Philosophy has lead to real world achievements, such as logic, the best higher education imaginable,
computers, and natural science.
 Philosophy can offer you the best sort of “enlightenment” that I know about. Philosophy can help you see
the world in new ways that can transform you into a better person and transcend the limited worldview
you have attained from your culture. You can learn to better “seize the day.” You can better see how life is
marginalized through consumerism, how your time is wasted with trivial distractions, how people’s
behavior is often thoughtless or irrational (often due to a faulty worldview), and so on.
 Philosophy can teach you the history that is often taken out of history books—the history of worldviews
and thought itself. You can’t know how we have “progressed” and attained the wonders of science and
technology without knowing the history of philosophy.
 You will learn of many of the greatest achievements and conversations that existed throughout history—
the books and thoughts written by people who devoted their lives to learning about the world and how to
live a good life.
 You will learn how to think more creatively, not less. Learning about the answers people have thought of to
life’s greatest questions opens possibilities that you would have a very difficult time to realize on your own.
Philosophers often contribute to the world by thinking in entirely new ways and offering entirely new
answers—and you can learn to do so as well through example. You might think you are creative now, but
odds are that many of your ideas are the same as someone else’s. Would you rather know what ideas are
already thought of so you can make sure your own ideas are unique or do you want to end up coming to the
same ideas that many others come up with?
Conclusion
What you get out of philosophy is partially up to your teacher, but it’s mostly up to you. If you want to get by doing
the minimal work with as little effort as possible, then you might not get much out of philosophy at all. To get
something out of philosophy, you should spend some time arguing and thinking about your life and what it means
to be rational or moral. In fact, you don’t need to take a single philosophy class to learn about philosophy. You
could try to learn it on your own.

Whatever you want to do in life philosophy can help. Being rational, thinking clearly, and being moral is important
for all human beings just for being human beings. Everyone should not only take a philosophy class of their own
free will, but people should be required to learn philosophy in high school. It could probably be taught as part of
our English classes. Learning to read and write is an important part of learning to think. You can’t read or write
anything important if you can’t read or write philosophy. (In fact, I think philosophy should have a greater
influence over all of our education in general. Education should be less about obedience, following directions, and
memorization; and more about understanding the world using good reasoning.)

Should you major in philosophy? If you want an education to get a job like everyone else, then it might not be the
best choice. However, if you want to make yourself or the world better, then you should consider it.