Most of us have an idea of what philosophy is but don’t know the details or how we can learn more about the subject.

Put simply, philosophy is the love of wisdom. It includes knowledge of one’s self and knowledge of the world in which we live. With this knowledge it is possible to play whatever part the world may present with greater ease and enjoyment.

Listed below are five answers to frequently asked questions on philosophy.

1. What is philosophy?

The Greek philosopher Socrates defined philosophy as ‘the love of wisdom’. The original purpose of philosophy is to discover truth and develop wisdom by practical application, in our daily lives, of what has been discovered.

2. What is practical philosophy?

Practical philosophy is philosophy that is applicable to all aspects of our lives. Practical Philosophy is a journey of discovery through study, discussion and reflection. The truth of what we have learnt is then tested against the experience of everyday life.

3. What forms of philosophy are there?

There are many different forms of philosophy; however certain factors are common to all strains of thought. Philosophies and religious traditions from around the world, including the Platonic and Judaeo-Christian traditions and concepts of Advaita Vedanta (an ancient Indian philosophic form), share a common set of unifying principles.

These traditions can be investigated and studied in order to discover and realise in life the truth about one’s self and the unity that lies within creation. This understanding can help us in practice to find our own inner strength, freedom, intelligence and happiness.

4. Why should I learn more about philosophy?

Through philosophy you can consider the fundamental questions of human life, understand some of the ideas that have shaped our world, and open out greater possibilities for your life. In a very practical way you may find that philosophy can help to simplify, clarify, and enrich your perspective and self-awareness.

Students who study philosophy often find a greater sense of purpose, peace of mind, contentment and understanding of themselves and the world around them, as well as the discovery of new abilities and talents.

5. Where can I learn about philosophy?

The School of Philosophy in Auckland could be a good place to start. It’s a charitable trust that has offered courses in practical philosophy for about 50 years. The school offers an introductory course in which a different topic is covered each week.

This article has been sponsored by the School of Philosophy in Auckland. For more information, you can call on (0800) 610 539 and speak with a tutor, request a brochure by mail, or visit the  School of Philosophy website.

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