A question that many have asked themselves over the years: Can philosophy be a hobby? And if so, what does that mean? For some people, spending their free time philosophizing may seem like a strange pastime. But for others, it's a passion they would never give up. So what is it that makes philosophy so appealing? Is it the challenge of exploring complex ideas? The opportunity to debate and discuss different theories? Or maybe it's simply the satisfaction of learning something new every day. Whatever the reason, philosopher or not, there is no doubt that philosophy can be a lot of fun!
Philosophy is often thought of as a serious field of study, reserved for those who want to become academics or professionals in the field, but it can also be something we do for fun, as a hobby. In this post, I'll explore some of the ways philosophy can be fun, even outside of a formal education.
What is philosophy, and can it be a hobby?
Philosophy is the study of knowledge, existence, values, reason, mind, and language. It is one of the oldest academic disciplines and can be studied at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Philosophers ask questions about the world and our place in it, and explore fundamental concepts such as truth, justice, beauty, and goodness.
The earliest records of philosophical thought date back to the 6th century BC in ancient Greece, where thinkers such as Thales, Socrates, and Aristotle laid the foundations of Western philosophy.
But there are also equally ancient records of philosophers in the Far East. In China, for example, Confucius (551-479 B.C.) taught a system of ethical reflection now known as Confucianism. In India, the Buddha (c. 563-483 B.C.) taught a system of thought that emphasized personal liberation from suffering. Philosophy, then, is an ancient activity that has been practiced throughout the world.
Looking at the accounts of ancient philosophers, it is even plausible that philosophy is much older than the 6th century BC. There is evidence of philosophical thought in the form of cave paintings dating as far back as the Paleolithic period (about 50,000 BC). These paintings, found in France and Spain, depict animals and human figures in what appears to be a hunting scene. However, some scholars have interpreted these figures as shamans
Over the centuries, philosophy has evolved and changed, but its core theme has remained the same: understanding the nature of reality and our place in it.
How philosophy is usually approached today
The way philosophy is approached today has changed greatly since the days of the ancient Greeks. The methods and tools philosophers use have been refined and developed over time, but the basic goal is still to think about the big questions of life.
One of the most important things to know about philosophy is that it is not just a bunch of theoretical concepts (which can be the impression some modern academic philosophy courses give); it is a way of thinking and approaching the world. That is, even if you don't study philosophy in school or read philosophical texts, you can engage in philosophical thinking. You just need to start asking questions and thinking about the answers, which brings us to the next point:
Why philosophy can be a hobby
Philosophy can be studied as an academic discipline, but it can also be studied in a more informal way, as a hobby. And that even brings great advantages.
What are some of the benefits of doing philosophy as a hobby?
Here are just a few:
1. it can help you think more clearly and critically.
2. it can help you become aware of your own assumptions and beliefs.
3. it can help you develop better arguments and communicate more effectively.
4. it can give you a better understanding of the world and your place in it.
5. it can stimulate you intellectually and give you pleasure for a lifetime.
So if you're looking for a way to improve your thinking skills, become more aware of your own beliefs, and better understand the world, philosophy might be the perfect hobby for you.
How to get started in philosophy even if you don't have any experience yet
If you're new to philosophy, it may seem daunting at first to get started. But remember that philosophy can be studied at a variety of levels - you don't need any prior knowledge or experience to get started. Here are some tips:
Start by reading some introductory books on philosophy. There are a number of good introductory books to philosophy that will give you a basic understanding of key philosophical concepts and ideas. Some good examples are: The Blackwell Guide to Philosophy by Nicholas Bunnin and Edward Craig; A Short History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell; An Introduction to Metaphysics by Georges Bataille; What Is Philosophy? by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; and The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger by Charles Guignon.
Looking for some classics? Below you will find some of the most famous philosophers and their most famous works (click here to jump).
Watch video lectures on philosophical topics. Many universities make their video lectures available online for free viewing. This is a great way to learn about various philosophical topics from experts in the field. Some good examples are: The History Of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell; Introduction To Logic by Michael Scriven; Epistemology And The Psychology Of Human Knowledge by David Papineau; Ancient Greek Philosophy by Julia Annas; The Ethics Of Killing: Problems At The Margins Of Life by Jeff McMahan; among others.
Participate in online discussions about philosophy. There are a number of online forums where people discuss various philosophical topics. This is a good way to learn from the experiences and perspectives of others and to ask questions about philosophy. Some good examples are: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy forums, Oxford University Press's Philosophy Bites forum, and the American Philosophical Association's discussion forum for teachers of philosophy courses for elementary school students.
Additional tips for getting started with philosophy
If you're interested in getting into philosophy but don't have any prior knowledge, here are some tips:
- Use more than one medium: A mix of reading books (the good old way), listening to audiobooks (great when you're doing mundane tasks), and watching philosophical content on YouTube and similar platforms
- Do not rush: Take your time with what you consume. Even if you feel like you need to get as much input as possible, there's no real compulsion. If you're having fun and things come easily to you, that's fine. But don't feel compelled to rush.
- Make it a habit to reflect: It is easy to fall victim to what we call blind acceptance. Just because someone famous has said or taught something, it doesn't have to be an incontrovertible truth that can be applied always and everywhere.
- Not only consume, but also act: Sooner or later you will find that just consuming the philosophy material is not enough and you will automatically start applying it (usually by starting to ask questions about your lecture, but also in everyday situations), but you don't have to wait for that to happen: You can start asking questions right at the beginning. You'll see that this leads to a richer experience and is more fun.
Watch documentaries and listen to podcasts. Living in today's world has many benefits and access to high-quality audio and video files is one of them. This way you can easily consume content to learn more about historical background, biographical data and everything else.
Looking for philosophical documentaries or philosophical podcasts? There are a number of great documentaries on various philosophical topics, such as The Lives of Philosophers, The Atheist Manifesto, and The Infidels. There are also a number of excellent philosophical podcasts, such as The Philosopher's Zone from Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National, Philosophy Bites from Oxford University Press, and Philosophy for Our Times from the Open University.
Finally you could attend a philosophy conference or workshop. There are a number of philosophy conferences and workshops that take place throughout the year in different parts of the world. This is a good opportunity to meet other philosophers and to study various philosophical topics in depth.
If you're not sure which philosophy school to start at, we have a full article about how to find the best solution for you. Check it out!
The benefits of studying philosophy (in a non-academic way), including developing critical thinking skills and expanding your knowledge base.
Philosophy can be studied in an academic way, but it does not have to be. Most people who study philosophy do so because they are interested in it, not because they want to become academics. And that's fine, because studying philosophy has many benefits, even if you don't plan to become a professional philosopher.
For one thing, philosophy can help you develop your critical thinking skills. This is important not only for your studies, but also for life in general. Critical thinking skills help you evaluate information and arguments more accurately and make better decisions based on them.
Philosophy can also help you expand your knowledge base. Even if you are only interested in philosophical debates and arguments, reading and discussing the ideas of different philosophers can introduce you to new concepts and ideas that you might not have otherwise thought of. This can be very beneficial, especially if you are also interested in other areas of study.
Overall, studying philosophy can be beneficial in many ways, whether you choose to make it your career or not. It can help you develop important skills and knowledge that will be useful no matter what path you choose to take in life.
Why philosophy is usually more than just a hobby
Philosophy is the love of wisdom. It is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the world around us and our place in it. It is a search for truth and meaning. For many people, this is what draws them to philosophy - the desire to learn about the world and ourselves, to explore big questions about life and death, happiness and meaning.
But for most people, philosophy doesn't remain just a hobby. It quickly becomes something more than that. Because philosophy isn't just about thinking about big questions. It's also about doing something with that thinking. Philosophy requires us to critically question our beliefs, reason logically, and apply our thinking to real-world problems. In other words, philosophy asks us to think deeply and critically about everything we believe and to put those beliefs into practice.
It can be challenging, but it is also a rewarding experience. Philosophy can help us develop our critical thinking skills, challenge our assumptions, and see the world in a new way. It can also help us better understand ourselves and our place in the world. For these reasons, many people are finding that philosophy is quickly becoming more than just a hobby.
Popular philosophers and their most famous works, for those who want to learn more about the subject.
There are many famous philosophers whose works are worth exploring if you want to learn more about philosophy as a hobby. Among the most famous are:
- Plato: Plato was a Greek philosopher who lived in the 4th century BC. He is considered one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy and is known for his works on ethics, metaphysics and political theory. Among his most famous works are The Republic and The Symposium.
- Aristotle: Aristotle was another Greek philosopher who lived in the 4th century BC. He was Plato's student and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy. He wrote on a wide range of topics, including metaphysics, ethics, psychology, and politics. Among his most famous works are the Nicomachean Ethics and Politics.
- René Descartes: Descartes was a French philosopher who lived in the 17th century AD. He is considered one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and is known for his works on epistemology (the doctrine of knowledge) and metaphysics. Among his most famous works are Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy.
- John Locke: Locke was an English philosopher who lived in the 17th century AD. He is considered one of the founders of modern liberalism and is known for his works on epistemology, political theory, and ethics. Among his most famous works are An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises of Government.
More famous philosophers throughout history (+one of their famous works), each with their own unique insights into the world of philosophy. Here are some of the most famous:
Socrates - "The Apology
Kant - "Critique of Pure Reason"
Hegel - "Phenomenology of Spirit
Marx - "Das Kapital: A Critique of Political Economy"
Freud - "The Interpretation of Dreams".
Nietzsche - "Beyond Good and Evil"
Kierkegaard - "Fear and Trembling"
If you want to browse our (very) extensive list of philosophers, please do so here 🙂