Why does philosophy matter? The answer to this is as complex as it is simple, and for the purposes of kicking things off, we’ll start simple. Philosophy matters because whether consciously or subconsciously, some philosophy is guiding your life. Depending on how much control you’ve taken over your guiding philosophy, this fact should be either wonderfully empowering or completely horrifying. So, if there is indeed a philosophy guiding your life (be it one of your conscious choosing or not), why wouldn’t we want to take complete control over which one? Philosophy, in my opinion, is best defined as this- the set of thoughts and ideas that inform how we perceive our lives and the world at-large.
One more time.
Philosophy is the set of thoughts and ideas that inform how we perceive our lives and the world at-large. We’ve all heard the famous phrase, “Perception is reality.” Well, if that’s true, wouldn't we want to have the best perception possible? And thus, the best reality? What if I told you that that was attainable? Well, it is, and it’s philosophy that makes it so.
While the most commonly adapted context of this "perception is reality" phrase is that which refers to flaws in communication, I’d say it accurately depicts our relationship with life experiences in general. Something unfortunate happens (car wreck, financial turmoil, betrayal by a friend or family member, failed romance, etc.), and our perception is that our quality of life has dropped to a lesser status because of it. And if we perceive our life to be less, it, essentially, is less. As far as we’re experiencing it, at least. The philosophy you’ve adopted for your life will directly inform how you interpret the events in your life. If that doesn’t make philosophy significant, I don’t know what will.
Ayn Rand may have said it best in her 1982 book, Philosophy: Who Needs It? She says,
"A philosophic system is an integrated view of existence. As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation — or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance.."
Let that quote sink in. How many of us are living out of the latter part of what Rand says here? I’d argue that, if we were honest with ourselves, many of our decisions and perceptions are the result of “unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undigested slogans…” etc. According to Rand, we have two options: deliberately, consciously decide on the disciplined set of thoughts that will guide our lives, or be a "victim" of chance, guided by baseless fears and unquestioned preconceived notions. From the former comes freedom, and from the latter comes… Well, we know what comes from that. Frustration, resentment, stagnation.
My goal with TPOE isn’t to just fill your mind with a bunch of philosophical head knowledge. If that’s all I’ve done, I’m no better than the college class you slept through five years ago. While I named this blog “The Philosophy of Everything,” it may have actually been more accurately named “The Philosophy for Everything,” as it’s my firm belief there is an existing set of thoughts best attributed to every situation.
Philosophy—the right philosophy—lets us take control of our experience. And when we take control of our experience, we catalyze our chance for joy. That is why philosophy matters, and this is The Philosophy of Everything.