What is Philosophy good for?

Philosophy is quite unlike any other field. It is unique both in its methods and in the nature and breadth of its subject matter. Philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavor. No brief definition expresses the richness and variety of philosophy. It may be described in many ways. It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one’s ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one’s sense of the meaning and varieties of human experience.


Philosophy is the systematic study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and much more. Every domain of human existence raises questions to which its techniques and theories apply, and its methods may be used in the study of any subject or the pursuit of any vocation. Indeed, philosophy is in a sense inescapable: life confronts every thoughtful person with some philosophical questions, and nearly everyone is often guided by philosophical assumptions, even if unconsciously. One need not be unprepared. To a large extent one can choose how reflective one will be in clarifying and developing one’s philosophical assumptions, and how well prepared one is for the philosophical questions life presents. Philosophical training enhances our problem-solving capacities, our abilities to understand and express ideas, and our persuasive powers. It also develops understanding and enjoyment of things whose absence impoverishes many lives: such things as aesthetic experience, communication with many different kinds of people, lively discussion of current issues, the discerning observation of human behavior, and intellectual zest. In these and other ways the study of philosophy contributes immeasurably in both academic and other pursuits.

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My step-father

My step-father was a small farmer. He worked with his hands all of his life. He worked with mules, horses, and later tractors. Otto was primarily a wheat farmer. He took pride in his farming. Straight rows, sowing at the right time, cultivating, knowing when to harvest. There was a German Lutheran toughness to him and a real pride in growing crops and beasts to feed the people. 

It was a real shock to him when he made his first trip to the east coast. He went up to the top of the Empire State Building and looked out over the city. He noticed barges in the Hudson River that were dumping their loads into the river. He asked what they were dumping. He was told they were dumping excess wheat and also milk. He could not believe it. 

Why would they do that,” he asked. For the futures market he was told. Too much wheat brings the prices down now and in the future. 

When he came back to the farm he was changed. Those barges had stolen his life’s purpose. 

At about the same time Camus was writing his Notebooks 1951 – 1959. He writes (35) : 

According to Melville, the remora, a fish of the South Seas, swims poorly. That is why their only chance to move forward consists of attaching themselves to the back of a big fish. They then plunge a kind of tube into the stomach of a shark, where they suck up their nourishment, and propagate without doing anything, living off the hunting and efforts of the beast. 

The remora reminds me of the Wall Street speculators of today. They do not produce any wheat or corn – they merely bet on its price in the future. And they don’t manufacture anything to use for anything – they specialize in gambling. 

Oh, yeah, and Otto paid his fair share of taxes. 


Skepticism or scepticism is generally any questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief. It is often directed at domains, such as the supernatural, morality, religion, or knowledge. – Wikipedia

Skepticism | Definition of Skepticism by Merriam-Webster
[Search domain http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skepticism%5D https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skepticism
uncertainty, doubt, dubiety, skepticism, suspicion, mistrust mean lack of sureness about someone or something. uncertainty may range from a falling short of certainty to an almost complete lack of conviction or knowledge especially about an outcome or result.

Skepticism | philosophy | Britannica
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Skepticism, also spelled scepticism, in Western philosophy, the attitude of doubting knowledge claims set forth in various areas. The original Greek meaning of skeptikos was “an inquirer,” someone who was unsatisfied and still looking for truth.

Skepticism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
[Search domain plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/
Philosophically interesting forms of skepticism claim that we do not know propositions which we ordinarily think we do know. We should distinguish such skepticism from the ordinary kind, the claim that we do not know propositions which we would gladly grant not to know.

Skepticism: Examples and Definition | Philosophy Terms
[Search domain philosophyterms.com/skepticism/] https://philosophyterms.com/skepticism/
Originally, in ancient Greece, skepticism was the philosophy of questioning all claims, religious, ethical, scientific, or otherwise. The point of skepticism was not so much to disbelieve claims, but to interrogate them; the word
skepticism is derived from the Greek skepsis, meaning “inquiry.”