Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2010 - (Page 8)

WHY STU WHY WHY STUDY PHILOS WHY STUDY by Jana Mohr Lone, Ph.D. PHILOSOPHY? took my first philosophy class in a large public high school in New York. For the first time, questions I had puzzled about so often—why I existed, whether things actually were the way they appeared to me, and why our society is organized the way it is—were taken seriously. These questions had already been the subject of study for thousands of years, and now I was part of a rigorous discussion about them. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t require high school students to take philosophy, so the subject is often a mystery to students. But most of us actually start asking philosophical questions early on. I remember wondering as a child what it meant to live a good life, and whether life had any meaning. Participating in a philosophy class encourages students to consider and express their own perspectives about such questions, listen to one another, challenge and build on each other’s thinking, and better understand their own ideas. aspects of human life and our relation to the world. Rather than accept what we’ve been taught, we carefully reflect on our views and then critically assess the arguments constructed by ourselves and others. In your teen years, questions about identity, the nature of reality, and the meaning of life are paramount. Thinking about these questions in a systematic way provides a strong foundation for learning how to think for yourself. There is much talk about the importance of “thinking for yourself,” but not a lot of education about how to do so. Our attitudes about even such things as what books are worth reading, which movies we want to see, and what clothes we wear are often influenced by the media, our peers, teachers, and family. It’s important to be able to recognize and analyze these forces in order to develop what is truly your own set of beliefs and values. Students of philosophy learn to evaluate claims based on reason and analysis rather than on fixed beliefs and prejudice, setting the stage for becoming effective critical thinkers. When you’re figuring out what you think about issues such as immigration or capital punishment, you’ll be able to think through all the reasons offered for one viewpoint or another and decide which are strongest, rather than just accepting what your friends, parents, or teachers say. I istock Love of Wisdom The word “philosophy” comes from the Greek, meaning “love of wisdom.” Philosophers explore the unsettled questions of human existence by analyzing the meaning of the basic concepts that comprise our understanding of the world. What is knowledge and how do we obtain it? What is goodness? What is the mind? What is time? What is beauty? In other words, philosophy explores questions about fundamental Mar/Apr 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2010

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2010
Editor’s Note
Big Questions
In My Own Words
Why Study Philosophy?
The Great Conversation
Robots, Zombies, and Descartes
The Wide World of Philosophy
The Philosopher’s Toolbox
Bad Dreams, Evil Demons, and The Experience Machine
Harry Potter and Plato
Exploring Ethics (or, Why I Give Up Saturdays in Spring)
How to Start a Philosophy Club
Selected Opportunities & Resources
Middle Ground
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Creative Minds Imagine
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2010