Our guide to philosophy

Our guide to philosophy

First published date January 21 2014 Amended date May 01 2015

Philosophy, or literally ‘love of wisdom’, is something that we use everywhere and all the time, without even realising it. You may be somebody that hates the thought of philosophy; at first glance it can seem like a boring subject filled with a heap of reading and the study of questions we can’t possibly answer. Surprisingly it’s a fundamental skill that humans possess without even trying. In some sense we are all philosophers, philosophy is simply asking the question, why? If you consider yourself the next Socrates, maybe you’re as profound as Plato, then enrol on one of our wide range of philosophy courses and learn anything from existentialism to metaphysics. 


What to expect...

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge into the world of philosophy, but you’re still not sure what it’s all about. You might be somebody who likes to learn new things but has never studied philosophy before, don’t panic, a course will help you take that step in the right direction. Having never studied philosophy before you may be under the assumption that you will learn some kind of spiritual knowledge or maybe the formula to happiness, this is not true. Philosophy aims to use logic and theories to find truths in things that we don’t yet understand, in a similar way to how science might.

Now that you’ve decided that philosophy is the subject for you, you will have the freedom to choose one of many classes that interest you the most. Philosophy classes cover a wide range of different philosophies from ethics, existentialism, and metaphysics to moral philosophy. If you are planning on studying philosophy at university, or in your spare time, enrolling on a history of philosophy or history of ideas course will help you to build a solid foundation of the basic philosophical concepts.


Fun fact

Rene Descartes, the French philosopher behind ’I think, therefore I am‘, came up with many of his ideas while lying in an oven. This wasn’t a modern oven; it was a stone room where a fire burned constantly. When it wasn’t being used for cooking, temperatures were kept lower and Descartes would frequently sleep there, his dreams would often turn into his ground-breaking work.


Why study philosophy?

Why not? A philosophy course will definitely help you build the skills you require for your next career step but on top of that it’s also great fun. Have you ever wondered to yourself, does god exist? What is the meaning of life? Is our universe real? Or perhaps you want to know if there is life after death? We may never be able to answer these questions but studying philosophy will give you fascinating topics to study while at the same time allowing you to learn some great skills you can apply to your career.


Fun fact

Ludwig Wittgenstein worked as an engineer designing propellers. After packing in his job he was successfully offered an interview to study philosophy under Bertrand Russell at Cambridge University. In his interview Wittgenstein simply handed Russell a piece of paper with one short sentence, he was immediately accepted on the course. To this day nobody knows what Wittgenstein wrote.


What career can I get?

What next? Unfortunately at some point you will have to stop studying and take a step across into the depths of the working world.  Depending on your choice of career, and the requirements you’ll need for the course, anything from a short course to a PhD in Philosophy can be beneficial for your progression. All of these courses will teach you some of the essential skills employers look for in almost any career path. Many philosophy students are found in careers such as teaching, journalism, marketing, publishing and law.

The course will teach you how to analyse different ideas and positions, you will think of creative and unique ideas to fix problems and issues while at the same time building coherent arguments to get your ideas across. These skills will prepare you for your new career, giving you the logic and confidence to succeed in any field. Maybe you want to get into law? The skills you will learn during your philosophy course are applicable to a career in law and many students often go on to study a law training course.


Fun fact

Diogenes was from ancient Greece and was well known for his controversial stunts. When he wasn’t criticising what he thought was a corrupt society he was begging for a living and sleeping in a large ceramic jar. When Plato publicly defined man as a ’featherless biped‘, Diogenes disagreed believing man was more complex. To prove his point Diogenes found a chicken, plucked it, and delivered it personally to Plato’s school, presenting it as a man.

Similar Subjects

  • Classical Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Greek Classical Philosophy
  • History Of Ideas
  • History Of Philosophy
  • Metaphysics
  • Social Philosophy
  • Browse all fun courses