As a concluding thought in his book entitled, The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell wrestles with the value of philosophy and why philosophy should continue to be studied. Philosophy’s value must be sought after, he states, in order to truly understand its importance.
In order to do so, one must rid his or her mind, first, of any practical prejudices such as material needs like food only being for the body’s nourishment. Russell expresses that you can also feed your mind through thought. Once disease and poverty problems are no longer relevant to our daily lives, there still would be a focus on producing a functioning society, something that relies on the thought process of those included in that society.
Often misunderstood as frivolous thought by practical men, philosophy is a knowledge-based study. Russell sees philosophy as the glue that holds the body of sciences together, but does not always find the answers to its questions which is somewhat intentional. When it comes to other sciences, such as mathematics, astronomy, or geology, there are definite truths that have been found through numerous years of study. Philosophy, on the other hand, invents other sciences, instead, when definite truths to its questions have been found. For example, both astronomy and psychology at one time were considered a philosophy until a more concrete understanding was gathered on the subject.
Therefore, the importance of philosophy relies in its uncertainty. The goal is not about discovering the answer, but evaluating the question asked and keeping interest in the search for more knowledge, different angles, and conflicting ideas. The value can, thus, be found in this uncertainty, Russell proposes. An instinctive man with no interest in the search of knowledge is confined only to common sense and habitual beliefs from a very finite view of the world. The notion to question, understand, and excite the mind about the different possibilities is what creates the value in philosophy because it breaks barriers of our preconceived ideas by showing a whole new world to venture. Only then would one gain a sense of real knowledge.
Breaking these barriers of having a finite view can be done by something known as philosophic contemplation. Russell suggests moving beyond one’s Self in order to obtain a true idea of where that Self lies in the context of the surrounding universe, the non-Self. Contemplation can occur when one’s prejudices and beliefs do not interfere with the possibility of other types of rational. The Self and Non-Self are both studied in a way where one does not define the other and instead, focuses on the relationship between the...