Is Philosophy Impractical? Yes and No, but That's Precisely Why we Need It

In Lee Trepanier (ed.), Why the Humanities Matter Today: In Defense of Liberal Education. Lexington Press. pp. 37-64 (2017)
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This chapter makes the argument for both the practicality and impracticality of philosophy as it relates to liberal education. An exploration of the history of science in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries reveals that a study of philosophy cultivates a skill set of logic and critical thinking that are crucial for those who study science and mathematics. It also situates philosophy as a unifying discipline for liberal education and STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The study of philosophy also is impractical, as is liberal education, in that it does not prepare students for any specific profession. But it is this impracticality that makes philosophy, and liberal education, central to its identity and value: it creates an individual who is more empathic, open-minded, and self-aware that would not be possible if philosophy and liberal education were subordinated to some practical goal.

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Kristopher G. Phillips
Eastern Michigan University


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