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Philosophy and Everyday Life

Is Philosophy Relevant to Everyday Life?

That such a question needs to be asked in the first place indicates a total lack of understanding with respect to what philosophy means and what it does. It seems that too many have become so involved in the picayune details of esoteric discussions that they have forgotten about the larger picture when it comes to philosophy. Some would argue that philosophy itself has vacated its place as an essential part of life for the sake of a much more restricted idea of communication. In other words, philosophy has retreated from the street into the walls of academia. But that does not mean that philosophy is not valuable in terms of everyday life. According to Malcolm (1984), in a letter sent to him by Wittgenstein, the philosopher (considered one of the most difficult to understand of the 20th century thinkers) said:

What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., & if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any … journalist in the use of the dangerous phrases such people use for their own ends (p. 93).

Philosophy in everyday life has two important matters with which it deals (and without which human beings would not be essentially human):

Why things are the way they are, and

What it means to say that certain things are in a certain way.

In other words, the true essence of philosophy is not in the determination of some class of propositions and logical constructs that only someone immersed in symbolic logic or second-order logic or language games can understand. Its true essence comes from uncovering the truths of everyday life. These truths can only be discovered through the use of philosophy's many weapons—the ability to think in a critical way and not take


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Philosophy and Everyday Life. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:05, September 30, 2014, from