Has Philosophy Improved Your Life Or Confused It

Has your study of philosophy lead to more confusion than before you became interested? Or has philosophy improved your thinking and directly transferred into other parts of your life?

Philosophy gave me a direction, understanding, and appreciation of life that i did not, and would not possess without it. It has deeply impacted all other parts of my life, from social, to political, even to occupational.

I've written a book (almost published!), coached world class professional athletes, performed on stage in front of hundreds, and have been successful in business, but the study of philosophy is my greatest achievement.


I'm at the end of my degree (philosophy anyway, still got a science degree that I'm half way through), so here's my thoughts while procrastinating from study.

It's made me less likely to hold strong opinions (if I dwell on something anyway. I will still shoot my mouth off every now and then without thinking).

It's also made me change some preconceived notions about philosophy (I was lucky enough to be at a university that allowed a heavily analytic major with tons of logic and philosophy of science subjects, so my opinions below are coloured by that).

Preconceived notion: logic is some apriori system of thought that allows us to grasp at truth, and is beyond critique.

Post-philosophy opinion: logic as a system (the "classical" systems and artificial languages anyway i.e, the propositional (P) and predicate (Q) systems) has serious flaws. The most troubling of these are (a) structural ambiguity (something artificial languages (AL) cannot escape, and was the motivation of creating the artificial languages in the first place i.e. creating the AL to escape the ambiguity of natural language), and; (b) the inability of the artificial languages like P and Q to capture everything there is in English (forget modal languages or other systems for the moment, even within P and Q there are problems, the most troubling being the jump from "if ... then" conditionals to the material conditional). That doesn't mean we should reject logic wholesale, see below on rejecting systems of thought.

Preconceived notion: logic is a way to shoot down other's arguments.

post-philosophy opinion: At best, I see informal and formal logic systems as tools to assess one's thoughts, and what inferences I can and can't draw. There is a ton of new sociological literature out there (mostly associated with Dan Sperber) about reasoning in the real world (link at the bottom). It would seem that reasoning is mostly used as a blunt tool to bash people over the head with. It is rarely used as a tool for reflective thought. tl;dr people are arguers, not thinkers. Become a thinker.

Preconceived notion: inconsistent systems of thought should be rejected wholesale.

Post-philosophy opinion: Forget the ethical component of the preconceived notion for the moment ("should"). You see this throughout philosophy. a was wrong in a specific instance (where 'a' was a philosopher), therefore we should reject all of a's corpus. I mean, it is ridiculous when you think about it (I even do it sometimes, especially rejecting religious systems of thought wholesale, when there might be parts of the system worth saving, especially some moral components). Also, inconsistency isn't necessarily wrong in the logical sense (it is under the classical langauges like P and Q), but under newer systems of logics (paraconsistent logics), inconsistent propositions can be true.


i think even people who aren't omphaloskeps like philosophy forum members would admit that the potential for actualization and enrichment justifies being exposed to all the psychological and sollipsistic pitfalls that come with an examined life.

as far as confusion, no one who wouldn't have already spent life confused on some level comes away from serious philosophical inquiry without some kind of practice-improved mechanism for critical thinking, thought experimentation, free association, comprehension, discourse, etc. these honed skills almost necessarily bleed over into everyday life. iphilosophy can definitely help socially awkward asperger's cases and natural misanthropes develop their inner assholes, but large-scale confusion isn't a side effect i've seen.