Why study Philosophy?
"The rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct."
The right use of philosophy can lead to justice and the abuse of philosophy can lead to great injustice and pain. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that philosophy was an essential study. He quoted Adolf Hitler as saying, I use emotion for the many and reason for the few. Hitler, the tyrannical murderer of millions, abused philosophy by what he said and did. I should study philosophy because it is an essential study for anyone who wants to avoid being part of the problems that caused such suffering in the last Century and wants to contribute to the solutions for this new Millennium. I should study philosophy because I want to improve the quality of life for myself and for others.
It is said, "Scratch a Scot and you scratch a Calvinist." But was John Calvin, who, through John Knox gave to Scotland its Presbyterian heritage, xenophobic? Did he dislike people who disagreed with his views? He was responsible for the deaths of over a hundred "heretics", history tells us. Here he was simply a man of his time, many believe. But is this moral justification? Calvin used reason, but did he abuse it in his usage? Did he use circular arguments, not critically examining his premises? Did he engage in bibliolatry, the worship of the Bible as the Word of God, to justify his slaughter? And what about the Catholic Inquisition with its persecution of thousands of &heretics&? What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? That is, what has philosophy to do with religion? These are questions you will have the opportunity to ask and answer. Philosophy can attack xenophobia head on. But perhaps the curse of the last Millennia and the current world crises have not been through religion; perhaps it has been xenophobia, the fear of that which is foreign or different, that has abused religion, of reasoning, and relationships.
If this matters, then the study of philosophy is essential. And you will uncover an avalanche of other reasons for studying it as you ask, What is philosophy?