We have heard it time and time again, from our elders, peers, in school’s course books, and even on the internet.

But how many of us really understand what it means?

What Is Philosophy?

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The Britannica Dictionary traces the origins of this word to Ancient Latin, wherein the word ‘philosophia’ meant ‘love of wisdom’. With the many changes it went through over the centuries, the term now stands for “the rational, abstract, and methodical consideration of reality as a whole or of fundamental dimensions of human existence and experience”.

Or put it simply, it is the study of a set of ideas and beliefs that attempt to explain the inherent meaning of life while laying down rules about how one should behave.

Plato, Socrates, Confucius, Rene Descartes and Karl Marx have been among some of the greatest philosophers of all time.

Although it feels like common sense now that every argument needs to have a logic behind it, it was Aristotle who asserted the use of rationale as a method of debate – shocking, right? Simultaneously, David Hume articulated that any good behaviour that a human undertakes is driven by the likely desirable outcome of the same.

These ideas, which now feel so ingrained in our day-to-day life owe their inception to some of the greatest influential thinkers we’ve had.

Coming to the country that was once globally respected as the land of the learned, India has also produced some admirable personalities in the field of Philosophy.

Sri Aurobindo, Sri Adi Shankara, Swami Vivekananda, Guruji Rabindranath Tagore and Osho are some of the unparalleled names that introduced every Indian’s heart and soul to the value of life and the art of living.

Significance of Philosophy as a Part of Today’s Education System

There are different ideologies at work at all times, in the various domains of one’s life. From the most basic questions, like ‘What is life?’ to some more complex ones, like ‘How strict or lenient should one be with an individual of a certain age when it comes to criminal activities?’, the queries are never-ending.

Similar to every other section, Education is also an area that hasn’t gone untouched at the hands of Philosophy.

Several debates take place every day at every level of an educational system, trying to mold the children of today to tomorrow’s responsible citizens of a democratic society. However, is being accountable enough?

When the discipline of Philosophy is seamlessly integrated with one’s educational subjects, the resulting individual is not just an answerable resident, but an honourable human being as well.

The importance of this assimilation of various branches of learning can be understood in a more detailed manner with the following arguments.

Linking to One’s Roots

India has always been a deeply spiritual nation alongside its journey into the academic plains. Nevertheless, with each passing day, we seem to be moving away from the peace that we found in our hearts towards the materialistic pleasures of life.

While we concede that said consumerist luxuries are now a part of who we are today and the place we hold in society, we also must not forget that there is something to be found ahead of these possessions as well.

Our education systems on one hand equip us with the knowledge that we need to make something of ourselves and become well-to-do citizens of the world. On the other hand though, we also require the guidance provided by the philosophical teachings of the great thinkers of yore. This combination is essential to a human’s overall development and well-being, as it drives us towards being a well-rounded denizen of this beautiful nation by connecting us to the roots of our spirituality and culture.

It is only when one is in touch with their origins and heritage that they are truly aware of their true goal in life.

Making philosophy a part of how each subject is taught in an educational institution is an amazing way of ensuring this link.

Understanding the World Through Various Approaches

When an individual starts viewing the world through philosophical glasses, he or she tends to start questioning every big and small aspect of life. ‘Why’ becomes one of the most powerful words in their vocabulary that helps them in self-discovery as well as in learning the ways of the world around them.

Once this becomes the norm for a person, they tend to open up their minds to all that exists which further helps them in building an understanding of the universe through various viewpoints. As an example, while one may see eating animals as wrong and injustice towards those beings, others may think this an optimal way of ensuring the continuance of life on earth.

Science and Philosophy start walking hand in hand, thus providing a student with different perspectives, helping them form their own opinion of life and the cosmos.

Developing Critical Thinking

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All philosophers have had one thing in common, regardless of their educational qualifications and worldly experiences – they have all been influential thinkers. For it is only through meticulous and conscious thought that one can find the answers to the several queries that plague the mind each moment.

When a person starts questioning everything around them – every small deed, each little act – they not only become open to acceptance as we established above but to reach that level of acknowledgment, they develop a critical mind that probes and examines every theory in great detail before embracing its truth.

Such a deep thinker is bound to excel at all he or she strives for as they will be making an informed decision, after careful consideration. This ability assists them greatly in forming an opinion as well as reaching a conclusion even in the capitalistic world.

Imbibing Morality And Humility Alongside Knowledge

Philosophers, irrespective of the era, have been known to be humble people, stripped bare of any arrogance or pride they might have once had after they got in touch with their inner ideologist.

Simultaneously, being of a sound mind is important, but being of a moral heart has been considered equally, if not more, essential.

These are the virtues of an honorable individual who believes that in this vast world, he or she is a minuscule unit who is yet to learn more and is not the supreme source of all knowledge there is. Something more is always left to explore and no one knows everything there is to understand. They also believe in the path of just and principled behavior and consider all to be equal, no matter their social status, caste, gender, or other discriminatory factors.

A student who grows up with these values being inculcated through every discipline of learning is sure to be modest, considerate and an overall good human being.

Closing Thoughts

Students of today are the future of tomorrow, as we have all heard numerous times in this lifetime. Their current existence as a disciple too however is of great significance as who they are today will lead the path to who they become tomorrow.

An educational system working in tandem with the philosophies of some of the most brilliant minds to ever grace this earth is what we aim to witness around the globe, for we are just the beginning.

Featured Image by Ben Sweet on Unsplash