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What's the point of doing philosophy?

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What's the point of doing philosophy?Trinity College Dublin

There are lots of popular misconceptions about philosophy, the most common one being that those involved in the discipline sit around all day, with their heads in the clouds. Like a lot of misconceptions, this is wide of the mark.

“People think it is all waffle and doesn’t mean anything anyway,” according to Professor Peter Simons, Chair of Moral Philosophy and former head of School of Social Sciences and Philosophy.

Professor Simons has just been bestowed the accolade of ‘one of the 50 most influential living philosophers’, having earned the distinction due to his work of the last 30 to 40 years.

What a lot of people don’t realise, he explains, is that philosophy has a fundamentally important role to play in modern life. While it is one of the oldest areas of intellectual endeavour it is still significant today.

To illustrate this point Professor Simons says that in his capacity as a ‘philosopher’, he has provided expertise to all sorts of industry, ranging from engineering to software design.

“The kind of abstract thought in which philosophy engages is of value to industry.”

Philosophical concepts are also used to design databases for genetics and military.

In addition, what philosophers are talking about is stuff that affects us all. “For example, do we have free will or not? If we didn’t have free will then we’d have to completely reform the justice system.”

Professor Simons is emphatic on the benefits of a philosophy degree.

“What’s the point of doing philosophy?” he asks. “If you do it well you will gain skills that are widely transferable that can be applied right across the board. The cognitive and logical skills you acquire will prove very useful to any employer.

“Philosophical concepts get to the heart of the dispute about what it’s truly like to live life.”


You can view the full article of the 50 most influential living philosophers here

For more information on the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy visit here

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