This author will never forget her first class in Philosophy 101.
Not for the usual reasons, of course. It wasn’t because she came across some pearl of wisdom hidden among the many, many pages of the designated book or because she found some concept utterly fascinating or because she discovered a hidden genius inside herself. Not really, you see.
The truth was simple and yet very shocking. Philosophy 101 made her feel very dumb.
Needless to say, this author was, as we say these days, shook.
Time for a little backstory.
Half the class got nearly all the answers wrong; the first day of the class and we were already evaluating all our life decisions. The teacher threw intriguing questions at us; what is philosophy? What is the definition of wisdom, truth, concept, percept? Don’t you think philosophy and science are the same? We were blindsided by this constant attack, flailing around for answers, frantically looking at our books. That’s when the instructor decided to pity our microscopic brains; she sighed and went back to scribbling on the board. That’s why Pakistanis don’t progress as a nation, she tutted, you’re looking at your books for answers that you ought to be thinking about and all you do in the end is use your emotions to reason. Rookie move.
For a freshman who had taken the course on a whim, this was a reality check.
But truth be told, the course did more than teaching this author to think independently, it also made her realize how little she knew about anything in this world and how she’d never thought about the simplest of questions, always ignoring the basics of an idea, always building up knowledge on vague concepts and zero reasoning. And here’s why this author thinks an introductory philosophy course should be compulsory for every university student.
1. It moves you to question literally everything.
Philosophy 101 moves you to question the foundations of literally every existing concept; it jerks you out of whatever bubble you have been living in and pushes you to be curious about the workings of ideas that you never gave much thought to before. It’s an attribute that will help students of all disciplines since questioning and forever seeking answers is what makes for the best learners.
Our education system deems the study of natural science to be compulsory even though it’s based on facts that you cannot argue or question, thus suppressing the habit of analysis and making science seem boring. Philosophy 101 is a fresh alternative to this.
2. It pushes you to be critical.
It develops this habit to criticize concepts instead of just blindly submitting to them; this criticism isn’t based on ignorance and lack of knowledge, philosophy does not accept any counter-argument without substantial evidence or reasoning to support it. Very helpful in your future pursuits.
3. Writing philosophy papers will improve your writing skills.
Philosophy papers are commonly argumentative in nature and follow a fixed structure which not only helps you understand how writing a paper actually works but will also improve the way in which you present your arguments.
4. Helps you develop the thought process necessary when participating in a debate or argument.
Philosophy 101 will help you analyze your opponent’s arguments and counteract them with your own. No other subject improves your argumentative skills like philosophy does; it provides you with the tools necessary to identify good arguments from bad and will help you identify relationships between two concepts.
5. Constantly challenges your understanding of the world.
Philosophy 101 pushes you to never take the world for granted, constantly making you challenge your own beliefs and helping you deal with vague concepts such as wisdom, truth, justice, morality etc. It also helps you make arguments from a center-point other than religion by making you realize that your identity doesn’t stem from your religion but is individual and subjective. This is a useful skill that you can apply to all real-life situations.
Taking philosophy 101 will agitate you; it is not going to serve you the answers to your questions on a silver platter but will make you work for it and chances are you’ll never find the answers. All you’ll get from this search are more questions and a clearer understanding of whether your own beliefs and paradigms are correct. If your university offers you the chance to take a philosophy course, don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Trust this author, you’ll be sparing yourself from a lot of the agony that other university students experience later on.