Why I Chose Philosophy

My choices are liable to change, but my opinions of it probably won’t.

Growing up in the business-oriented society of Hong Kong, alongside having been accompanied by science fans from my youth to my adolescence, it’s difficult for my community to fathom why I’m choosing to be a Philosophy major in college (in the meantime).  They often say that Philosophy is useless, and there’s little to no value in Philosophy.  I completely understand their…confusion, seeing the “paradigms” of this place.  Yet, whenever I’m repeatedly told that Philosophy is “pointless,” or questioned if I’ve ever heard of “unemployment,” I just dismiss them to be inconsiderate and ignorant without ever fighting back.

When I had my college interviews for various American universities (I had nine so far; they were quite fun), all of them asked why I indicated an interest to pursue a degree in Philosophy.  Why I made this choice is a long story; the stories of how this interest even stemmed in the first place and why I think it is significant are even longer.

This will hopefully be an effective summary.  I’ll try to be concise.

My peers often tell me that “the objective things like medicine and business are the most useful.”  Pragmatic, yes; useful, who knows?  Instead, I’d like to focus on the whole idea of “objective.”  One of my world views is that objectivity is nonexistent.  Sure, the thing about science and math that makes it different from the humanities like history and philosophy is that there’s always a set answer to the question.  You don’t question calculus or statistics, because you are well aware that it’s accepted fact.

But then again, what does it mean for something to be objective?  If we’re saying something is “science,” where exactly do these ideas come about?  Does this necessarily imply that scientific or mathematical knowledge was already intrinsic to the creation of the world?

To me, subjectivity is the idea of creation and ideas.  You have an idea about something, and it becomes a theory of some sort.  Sure, it may not be tangibly proven, but the idea still exists.  It’s the same for science, but perhaps the only difference is that you can see it to prove it.  For instance, because you see decomposition happen, you can say that the idea of it visually exists.  If you know what I mean.

But when I think about it, somebody had to create this idea in the first place.  Sure, gravity or colour may already be there when the world came about, but nobody knew of these ideas then, did they?  Someone had to observe it and then come up with the idea of gravity.  That’s subjective — or, taking the subjective approach to make something objective.

I guess my theory, which perhaps isn’t new at all, is that everybody is a philosopher.  Scientists, musicians, garbagemen…they’re all philosophers.  We all have our own line of thinking that we often take for granted, and it’s the way that we think and how we develop these ideas that create new ideas that, if we’re cogent, can change the world in unprecedented ways.

Is Philosophy really as useless as they say?

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7 thoughts on “Why I Chose Philosophy

      1. Is it not philosophy that keeps humans from completely destroying it?

        Such as the desire to survive. Is that not a philosophy?

        I’ve always wondered why humans want to “live” so badly. It’s an interesting concept.

        1. I should probably write a post about “wanting to live” sooner or later! I’ve always wondered what it even means to live, so this will be interesting.

  1. Ah, but we do question calculus and statistics…especially statistics. “That which is knowledge today is often discarded tomorrow” and all that.

    I am not going to the the person who says medicine and business are better (and as you pointed out, they’re not at all objective…although they tend to lead to more obvious careers), but I do wonder why you want to study philosophy at college now. Not a value judgment, just curiosity. What do you hope to gain from studying it in college that you can’t gain studying it on your own? And have you ever thought that maybe your approach to philosophy might be different if you took some time to explore the ‘real world’ a bit before you went to study philosophy?

    1. TOK reference. I like it.

      Well, all I can say is that I know what I know, and I want to know more about what I don’t know. Sure, there are many things in Philosophy that I could learn outside of college, but considering how I have IB now and then so much work in the future — when else? Since college in the US is, to me, really a chance to truly understand myself in the context of the world (again, that’s my interpretation of it, alongside the knowledge of college that was instilled in me recently. Knowledge cannot be discarded, etc…), I thought that I could maybe just do something I both know I genuinely enjoy and at the same time know I could learn more about.

      Sure, there are many other times I could do it, so perhaps I’m ultimately choosing college when my thinking abilities are still at its nascent stages but are meant to mature.

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