Column: The importance of studying philosophy in modern times


Giant globe located in Bryant Hall. Photo by Sagan Boehm.

Sagan Boehm
Oxford Stories

In the middle of the University of Mississippi campus, Bryant Hall offers its students top-quality education on topics of philosophy, religion and the classics. Focusing particularly on philosophy, students have a range of options to study.

Philosophy falls into several categories and sub-categories. These include: value theory, which includes ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy; epistemology and metaphysics, including epistemology, theories of truth, personal identity and the self, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion; and logic.

Students learn about renowned figures like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Benedict de Spinoza and others. Many professors have favorite philosophers. For example, Steve Skultety, Ph.D., enjoys teaching about the work of Aristotle, and Robert English focuses on Kant.

Some philosophy dates back several hundred B.C.E. Other works are contemporary. Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were writing in the days of ancient Rome, while people like Luvell Anderson and Ernie Lepore still make tremendous strides.

The field is diverse, ranging in ages, races, national identities and gender. Philosophy is an art based on logical formulation of arguments to further the progression of particular ideologies.


Outside of Bryant Hall off the left of the Ole Miss academic circle. Photo by Sagan Boehm.

The wonderful thing about philosophy is that it fosters the constant enhancement of individuals and society. A lot of the issues faced deal with important world dilemmas.

Philosophers focus on moral, political and existential issues. The goal is to take a stand on one of these issues and give an educated response either to advocate or oppose this position.

Philosophy is a new way of thinking. It is taking time and reflecting on the entirety of life. Sitting down and expanding the mind is a valuable commodity. As Plato describes it in his Apology:

“An unexamined life is not worth living.”

Simply speaking, it is better to live as an intellectual being than an animal. People are capable of reason, conceptualization and “original” thought. Philosophy is a way to elevate the mind to a higher understanding of the world.

The question might be asked, “Well how does this apply to me?” It applies to everyone, knowing the ins-and-outs of the complex structure of life will put anyone in the world at an advantage.

Knowledge is power and skill, and having a knowledge and skill on the literal frame of reality will give a person the groundwork to keep progressing.

People work to make money because it buys them things they want. People socialize to find friends and lovers they relate to, and people eat healthy and work out to get the body or fitness level they are trying to achieve.

What if there was a subject that touched on all of these aspects and many more. People educate themselves in philosophy to get to the level of apprehension they want to have.

Philosophy has formed the basis of many contemporary works of literature, science, math, and technology, but has recently fallen off. It will take a group of brilliant minds to bring it back to how it once was. Do you have what it takes?

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