How to Study Philosophy on Your Own in the Information Age

Author: panatmansam

by  Saṃsāran

Contrary to what those in the so called “hard sciences” would have you believe the study of philosophy is anything but “soft”. Lots of jokes are made about Philosophy PhDs working the drive through window at McDonalds. The reasoning behind this is that the study of philosophy is somehow frivolous. A chemist, applied physicist or biologist can find work in the private sector. Even astronomers, theoretical physicists and other scientists in the fields known as “pure” science are actually doing something tangible.

The truth is that of all the arts and sciences with the possible exception of mathematics philosophy is the purest. It is the quest not just for knowledge but also of truth. The problem with the study of philosophy is that it has a specialized vocabulary and is cumulative so it is assumed that a student is familiar with certain concepts and historical references. It has a very specialized vocabulary and philosophers LOVE to coin their own new terms.

I suggest having a few tools which were not available to me in the early days. Have an app which gives you definition of words when highlighted. Also, use Wikipedia. Yes. That’s right Wiki. I am not telling you to cite it in your PhD thesis but use it as a research tool. There are apps which allow you to mouse over any highlighted term in a Wiki article to get a view of the article for that term without leaving the page you are on. Wiki will give you an overview and then will footnote several sources. These sources are your gold mine. 

Next use Kindle and a good PDF reader. These readers will allow you to highlight, bookmark, make notes and even see notes other people have made. So, read the summary. Learn the related concepts by mousing over them. Look up every unfamiliar term.  The world of philosophy will open up to you.

Author: panatmansam

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