8. Value of philosophy

Philosophy influence both the personal and social aspects of human life. Most of the Western philosophers have considered the goal of philosophy to be the achievement of knowledge, but the aim of philosophy is not merely intellectual. It is true that philosophy gives us knowledge but, as Sri Aurobindo has pointed out, “Still the truth once discovered must be realisable in our inner being and our outer activities; if it is not, it may have an intellectual but not an integral importance; a truth for the intellect, for our life, it would be not more than the solution of though, puzzle or an abstract reality or a dead letter.” The exsitentialist school of our time has emphasised the life of the individual, his feelings, expectations and frustra-tions, in philosophical thinking. It is a revolt against logical and naturalistic system building, analytic intellect and dead thought which make philosophy a useless search for the ideas which are entirely unconnected with our practical life. Therefore the contemporary school of pragmatism emphasizes the pragmatic value of truth. Humanism lays emphasis upon the Protagorian principle of Homo-Mensura. The instrumentalism of John Dewey explains knowledge and intelligence as instruments for success in life. Hence philosophy and life are closely connected. This can be seen particularly in the following points.
Value in personal life
In our personal life we daily come across the problems when we have to decided between right and wrong. This decision requires criterion of right and wrong or good and ultimate good. To present such a criterion is the job of moral philosophy. Thus it is clear that we are in need of philosophy at every step of our life. Man cannot live a thoughtless life. He has to always think over many types of problems. Is it not strange that though many people think, few know that laws of thought and the ways of thinking? The laws of thought and the ways of thinking form the subject-matter of an important branch of philosophy known as Logic.
A man may sometimes think properly even without any know-ledge of logic but a knowledge of logic will definitely make his thinking better an more valid. In the modern times, everywhere in urban areas one hears talk about art. Many want to refine their lives. Many want to live amidst beautiful things and beautify questions as to what in beauty? What is art?
These questions are raised by an important branch of philosophy known as Aesthetics. Many people are prepared to sacrifices their lives for the sake of their values. What is this value? What are the ultimate values? These questions are answered by Axiology. Every man, sometime or the other, tries to know what will happen to him to man when he dies? These questions are raised in Eschatology, an important branch of philosophy. Again, some thoughtful persons, when they reach at some crossing in life, think as to where they have to go? Why have they come to this world? What is the aim of life? Who am I? These questions are raised in philosophy of self. When the man looks at the towering tops of the mountains, murmuring sounds of the forests, pitch dark nights, roaring oceans and ferocious earthquakes and other peculiar natural phenomena a question arises in his mind as to what is this world? What is its nature? How has its been made? Who made it? Why did he made it? All these questions are discussed in Cosmology and Cosmogony. Thus, numerous types of questions that are raised in our every day life fall beyond the scope of common sense or science because they are basically philosophical questions. The value of philosophy in a man’s life is, therefore, quite clear.
Value in behaviour towards others
Whereas philosophy influences personal life, it influences social life as well. Our behaviour towards others is determined by our philosophers. If a man considers others as ends in themselves, his behaviour will be different from that of those persons who consider others as mere instruments to achieve their own selfish ends. Every man has divine element in him, this is a philosophical attitude. Everybody is a thief, this is a different philosophical attitude. It can be easily understood that these different philosophical attitude will lead to different types of behaviour towards others. In fact, it will not be an exaggeration to say that at the root of the behaviour of different persons, there are some philosophical difficulties.
Value in political life
Philosophy also influences political life. Various types of political philosophers such as democratic socialism, communism, totalitarianism, anarchism etc., lead to different types of government and state and to a lot of difference concerning human rights and the different aspects of political life.
Value in economic life
Every one has to earn money in order to earn his livelihood. The question is as to what is the aim of life. It money an end or merely a means to it? This is a philosophical question and on the answer to it, depends not only the economic activities of the individuals but also those of nations. The form of production, consumption and exchange very much depends on the answer to this philosophical question. According to Gandhiji, capitalists are the trustees of the capital of society. On the other hand, according to Karl Marx, the capitalists are the exploiters of the proletariat. These two different philosophical attitudes have widely influenced economic life.
Value in social life
Society is a web of social relationships. These relationships are found in different institutions such as family, marriage, business etc., and in thousand of associations. All these are influenced by philosophy. For example, whether the wedlock between male and female is a religious sacrament, this is a philosophical question on the answer to which depends the form, stability and result of marriage in a particular society. Similarly, the relationships between parents and their children in family do not depend on the biological and psychological attachments alone but also on their philosophical attitude towards life.
Whether the children should be brought up as ends in themselves or whether they are mere instruments for the progress of the family, this is a philosophical question the answer to which determines many important issues in a joint family. Similarly, what are the rights of society over the individual and do these rights have a limit? How far should the individual and do these rights have a limit? How far should the individual accept social control and how far can he evade it? All these are philosophical questions which have important social influence.
Value in cultural life
The philosophy of a nation is the index of its cultural progress. Thus philosophy influences each aspect of culture. The forms of dance, music, art, literature etc., are very much influenced by philosophy. A healthy philosophy will lead to a healthy attitude towards all these. To illustrate, Indian philosophy is mainly spiritual, therefore, one finds the stamp of spirituality on Indian dance, music, art literature etc. On the other hand, Western philosophy is materialistic.
The philosophy of a nation represents the infancy, adolescence and maturity of a nation’s culture. Philosophical progress manifests cultural progress. In a nation where there is no philosophical progress, its culture is dead. Cultural revolutions have also coincided with philosophical crisis. In Greece when Socrates was made to drink hemlock, it was not because of the enmity of people against him only but also because of his opposition of philosophy of the community of his time. Similarly, many other great men have sacrificed their lives by challenging the philosophies of their contemporary philosophers.
Value in educational field
Though now-a-days, the number of students philosophy and departments of its teaching in Indian universities is gradually becoming less and less, nor thoughtful person denies the value of philosophy in educational field. The function of philosophy in universities is properly the same as its function in the cultural development of a society, to be the intellectual conscience of the community.
The most fundamental question in the field of education is concerning its aim? This questions raises another question as to what is man, because what he is already implies in him. Man’s nature is, therefore, a philosophical question on the answer to which have developed so many philosophies of education which are the foundations of different modern methods of teaching.
Value in the field of knowledge
In the modern times, many educated person who swear by science, consider philosophy to be useless in the age of science because they are ignorant of the function of philosophy in the field of science. It can be said without exaggeration that without a philosophical basis, any knowledge is imperfect, because not total picture can be presented without the synthetic function of philosophy. Without this total picture there will always be tension in the field of knowledge which leads to philosophise or not, we must philosophise,
This has been expressed by Perry in somewhat different terms when he says, “Philosophy is neither accidental nor supernatural, but inevitable and normal.” Besides its synthetic function, another important function of philosophy is the criticism of the postulates and conclusion of different sciences. Whenever a scientist delves deeper in his own particular field, he reaches a depth where the process of his thinking is not scientific but philosophical. This can be seen in the thinking of many a great scientists of the world. The importance of philosophy in the field of knowledge is, therefore, quite clear.
From the point of view of different aspects of the individual and social life, and in different fields of knowledge, the discussion of the value of philosophy shows the utility of its study.
In the words of J.W. Cunningham, “Philosophy thus grows directly out of life and its needs. Everyone who lives, if he lives, at all reflectively, is in some degree a philosopher.” In the words of Chestertan, “The most practical and important thing about a man is his view of universe—his philosophy. The employee is at the mercy of the philosophy of his employer and the employer stakes his business on the philosophy of his employees.”

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