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Philosophy: the essence of life

Philosophy is the love for wisdom. Why do we not want this wisdom to enhance our lives and make a better living out of it. Bhavya Nayna Channan tells more.
Hindustan Times | By Bhavya Nayna Channan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 19, 2012 01:38 PM IST

Philosophy as a discipline makes one go deep into the reality creates a way for a right living in the realms of the social structure. A student of philosophy would always stand out from the rest of the other students as they have a deeper knowledge about life and a better capability to analyze any situation. According to Eshita Chauhan, who has been a graduate in philosophy and working in one of the multinational companies says that "philosophy has enabled her to think logically and practically with ethical knowledge which has led to her ladder of success"

Taking up philosophy as a subject in the graduation level comprises of various subjects which help the students develop a sense of reasoning and which would further help in their livelihood. A subject like Indian philosophy gives us knowledge of metaphysics which investigates the nature of being and the world. Epistemology which is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. Among its central concerns has been the challenges posed by skepticism and the relationship between truth, belief, and justification. In Indian philosophy ethics of life is given stress. In this ethics or 'moral obligation' is concerned with questions of how persons ought to act. The branches of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. Meta-ethics concerns the nature of ethical thought, comparison of various ethical systems. Whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how such truths can be known. Ethics is also concerned with the idea of morality. Another subject political philosophy is the study of government and the relationship of individuals and communities to the state. It includes questions about justice, the good, law, property and the rights and the obligations of the citizens. Whereas, Aesthetics deals with beauty, art, enjoyment, sensory-emotional values, perceptions and matters of taste and sentiments. Logic which is one of the most important subjects of philosophy develops a sense of reasoning through the patterns of thinking that lead from true premises to true conclusion. Philosophy of mind deals with the nature of the mind and its relation to the body whereas; philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins and usage of language.

Philosophy also helps us in analysing the concept of life with the help of ethical knowledge. According to Nisha Tyagi, senior reader in Miranda House says that "philosophy helps us to understand aspects of every happening like the case of a suicide; a student of philosophy analyzes this case like what led to this person to commit suicide? Why did this person commit suicide? Etc. through the ethical, social legal issues of the concept of suicide, which is also studied in the third year of graduation".

There are a number of openings as in terms of career after doing philosophy which most of the people are not of aware of. Following are the various openings:

Philosophy is one of the best if not the best- one can choose majors to prepare for law school or other work in legal fields. It prepares you not only for the kinds of logical reasoning and conceptual analysis necessary to do well in law school, but also teaches you the ethical and political traditions which underlie our legal systems.

Philosophy and critical thinking courses are taught at the community college level and at every public and private college or Research University as well as at some schools. A philosophy minor can be an excellent addition to the portfolio of someone planning to teach in another humanities area in school and a philosophy major can prepare you to teach general humanities courses in public and private high schools. Teaching at the college level requires an advanced degree.

Philosophy is one of the best possible majors for aspiring journalists, especially at schools that may not offer a separate journalism major. Aside from teaching you to write well, analyze facts critically and developing your research skills, courses in ethics, political philosophy and history of idea expand your conceptual repertoire and provide essential background knowledge for informed journalists whose work will make a positive contribution towards educating their society. It also gives you a solid foundation for becoming an insightful and persuasive writer.

The diverse world of publishing employs many people with background in the humanities including philosophy. From editors in charge of list-building at university presses, to agents working in education publishing, to acquisitions staff at large publishing houses with substantial non-fiction lists, to managing editors responsible for finding and selecting material for more specialized magazines and journals, there are many different sorts of opportunities open in diverse world of publishing.

Politics and public policy
Like political science philosophy is excellent preparation for positions in civil services, policy research institutions, jobs and research as it helps to develop a power of logical reasoning.

Public relations
The written and analytic skills which philosophical studies help to develop an essential tool for work in different kinds of public relation fields. If the student also has some experience with the media and can develop a good ability to make oral presentations to groups or visitors, individual callers, donors etc then his or her philosophical training will enable them to convey complex ideas to the targeted audiences. An ability to help justify an institutions work, its future projects and to develop consistent policies on controversial issues, can also be a vital asset for PR work with larger work organisations.

Fundraising and Non profit work
Students with degree in philosophy are well prepared for any judgment in which difficult value judgments and comparative analyses have to be made. This often suits them for college and university fund administration.

Religion and Ministry
Students who go for advanced degrees in theology or into seminaries to study for the ministry often start with an undergraduate degree in philosophy, which is often as good as a theology or religious studies major for these purposes. Especially if the student has theoretical interests, it is good to have some training in philosophy if planning to work in areas related to theology.

Business and Management
Many students with undergraduate majors or minors in philosophy go on to successful careers in business or management. Large firms often look for people who have a great all round liberal arts education. Which trains their mind for analysis- excellent communication skills and an understanding of people. Of course any career in business or management will involve a lot of on the job training and student will have to learn particular knowledge not supplied by a philosophy degree or any other liberal arts major. But philosophy often provides a good basis on which to build. Students thinking of going for MBA degree need not major in business or economics alone. T he best MBA schools like to admit students who have shown interest in other cases such as philosophy, history, and languages in addition to finance and management. Students with some background in philosophy are often better prepared for the kind of logical thinking required for more advanced administrative and long range planning.

Art and Architecture
Preparation for professional work in art and architecture often requires either advanced technical training or a graduate degree, but some background in philosophy is often very helpful for the student who wants to think theoretically about these creative endeavors both in aesthetics and in other areas, such as theories of meaning, culture and society. Philosophy has been a significant inspiration for innovation in art and architecture and some training in philosophical discipline provides a basis for a mature understanding of these disciplines, an understanding that extends beyond the technical competencies.

The writer of this article is a Philosophy Honours student of Miranda house.

Philosophy helps us understand aspects of everyday happenings.It prepares one in logical reasoning and conceptual analysis necessary to do well as also ethical and political traditions.

Teacher's Viewpoint: Follow these tips

Life's philosophy
Since philosophy means 'love for wisdom', the discipline helps not only to understand the social issues rationally from a much deeper and wider perspective but also teaches us to act accordingly.

Who should do it?
The honours course in philosophy is open for arts, commerce and science streams. In India it is not a subject taught in schools, yet, as the principal of Miranda House once remarked, "Everyone is a philosopher in India" and doing Philosophy, as a course will enhance one's wisdom.

Paper options
The course of Philosophy is so designed as to equip the students with logical reasoning, ethics, Indian, western and Greek philosophy, contemporary philosophic ideas, with the philosophy of science and religion. Along with these a course in ethics in public domain is designed to make students aware of the social, legal and ethical aspects of social issues, within the social structure.

Career options
Students with their three-year study of philosophy have further scope to pursue academics and research. Besides teaching, their understanding and analysing skill ensure success in such entrance examinations like law, management, civil services etc. Students of philosophy also excel in social work and mass communication.

Practical asset
The technique to live life happily is the one big asset that the students of philosophy are blessed with.

Nisha Tyagi, Sr Reader, Philosophy Department, Miranda House.

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