What is the meaning of Philosophy?

Essay by spudnick1College, Undergraduate October 2002

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What is Philosophy ?

Before I explain what it is, it might be worthwhile clarifying what it isn't. Philosophy is not about two old men sitting around the fireplace discussing the

meaning of life. Unfortunately, that is the type of mental picture most people have of the discipline. It is generally seen as having little connection to real

life, and something you might engage in if you had nothing better to do with your time. The worst myth about philosophy is the belief that it is a subject

for the intellectual elite, with no relevance to the common man.

That this is society's conception of philosophy is pitiful. However, philosophers have only themselves to blame for the present state of affairs. They alone are responsible for detaching philosophy from the real world. A case in point is the prevalent acceptance of Plato's dichotomy between mind/soul and body. This distinction has been presented in many forms : real vs ideal; spirit

vs flesh; earthly vs ethereal; temporal vs eternal; imperfect vs perfect.

If the layman were looking for support that philosophy has nothing to do with life in the real world, he could find no finer advocate than Plato, who in the Phaedo speaks through Socrates and suggests that to do philosophy is to prepare for death. In fact, to practice being dead! Why? Because of his acceptance of the idea that when you die the soul is separated from the body. In Plato's eyes,

doing philosophy is separating the soul from the body, precisely so that one is not thinking about the here and now. In other words, you have to remove yourself

from life in this world to be able to philosophize.

The reason why I am so condemnatory of modern philosophy is because it has generally accepted this...