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What Is The Point Of Philosophy?

Last week, we talked about how to control your emotions like a Stoic. This week, we’ll discuss the question, “What is philosophy and why does it matter?”

Philosophy originated as a Greek word which roughly translates to “love of wisdom.” However, this definition has become convoluted over the years.

After all, what is wisdom? People have defined it in many ways throughout history, but the way I see it, wisdom is an open-minded hunger for truth. This disqualifies a few people who might be smart, yet are not wise:

  • People who think they’ve “seen it all” and have nothing to learn
  • People who know they’re fools, but have no desire to learn
  • People who stubbornly refuse to subject their ideas to rational criticism

So, how does one acquire wisdom? 

The key is self-examination, which can be accomplished in many ways:

  • By philosophically sparring with a worthy partner through friendly argumentation – but only if you are willing to be wrong
  • By recording down your thoughts, reading them over, seeking weaknesses in your logic, and correcting the flaws in your understanding of yourself and the world around you
  • By observing yourself in your interactions with the world in real-time – how you speak, how you carry yourself, how you react to different stimuli – and discerning why you act the way you do, then finding a way to act that helps you better accomplish your goals
  • By examining the things you care about and deciding whether or not they are things you should actually care about, or if caring about these things is holding you back

But, why does wisdom matter? Because, wisdom is the key to freedom: from misfortune, obligation, fear, and coercion, along with any and all other things that might be categorized as “harmful” or “bad.”

Quote Of The Week

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” ― Epictetus

The Truth Will Set You Free

If you believe that only one thing is true, let it be this: you can choose. 

  • You can choose to value something, like your money, your status, or even your life, or you can choose not to
  • You can choose to let people boss you around with aggression and scare tactics, or you can choose to stand up for yourself and accept the consequences
  • You can choose to be an asshole, or you can choose to be kind
  • You can choose to fight for your life under difficult, dangerous, dark, or desperate circumstances, or you can choose not to

There is not a force in existence that can make you choose to feel one particular way or another about any circumstance you might encounter.

Does this mean you can manifest your ideal destiny through positive affirmations, visualizing your goals, and “speaking life?”

Fuck no.

You can, however, decide to be happy no matter what life throws at you. 

Philosophy, “the love of wisdom,” is the path to a life of total freedom. But only if you choose to follow it.

Question Of The Week

What does wisdom mean to you?

Live On Purpose // Die Without Regrets

Each Wednesday, I publish a 3-5 minute newsletter + video podcast that applies ancient wisdom to modern life.

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