I was sitting in an aisle seat, flying at 575 miles per hour, as the flight crew came by with beverage service. When the stewardess approached me I put my book down, and asked for a club soda.

As she was pouring my drink she asked me what I was reading. When I held up my book and said “The Discourses by Epictetus” her nose crinkled and she looked like she might vomit. After a moment her visceral reaction subsided and she started pitying me. She asked “is this a book for school?”I smiled and told her “no, this is for me.” She looked even more confused then before, handed me my drink, and continued on with her job.

I find people react strongly to philosophy, and the responses are typically pretty negative. Most people view philosophy as an esoteric  pursuit where old white guys sit in ivy tower and argue over logical proofs and definitions. Much of the academic realm is out of touch with reality.

But philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. At its core it is the pursuit of knowledge to help people live a better life by applying reason and logic to their daily life. Philosophy strives to answer the major questions of life — how do I be a good spouse, what is the purpose of my life, etc.

Many schools of philosophy focus on answering these basic questions, notably Stoicism and Buddhishm. But these schools are rarely featured in an introductory class on philosophy. Practical philosophy is an important subject to dive into. It helps you to prepare for the inevitable challenges of life.

Sean

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