Some Misconceptions about Philosophy / 哲學的「迷」與「思」
Philosophy has been generally considered an impractical subject and lacking in ready application to one’s future career. However, is it true that philosophy has no practical value whatsoever? Vivian Ko is a year 4 student from the Department of Religion and Philosophy, and she is also a former editor of the Students’ Union Editorial Board. It is our pleasure to have invited Vivian to share her views on philosophy and to talk about how philosophy has impacted her life directly.
Vivian first became interested in philosophy when she was in junior secondary school. She was suffering from depression at that time, yet found it difficult to articulate and to explain to her family her preference for an independent personality. In order to redirect her emotions productively, Vivian read philosophy at the library across weeks then months. She eventually came to discover that all reason is grounded in logic and argument. Hence, the use of reason is important in reaching any philosophical conclusion. If the argument cannot be overturned, we should accept it. However, if it can be overturned, there are always questions that may be acknowledged even when they cannot necessarily be resolved or explained. Such a realization over time allowed Vivian to free herself from the illogical and unnecessary loop of self-blame. She began to process her emotions in a more orderly fashion, as when adopting the mode of philosophical thinking. Again the master of her own thoughts and emotions, Vivian overcame depression. Overall, this experience made Vivian more aware of her inner needs; it also further strengthened her determination to study philosophy in the future.
What about getting a job with a philosophy degree? People may be curious about the career paths available to philosophy graduates. If many people assume that philosophy graduates have fewer career options, and can only pursue teaching careers associated with philosophy, then Vivian has arrived at a different view. She rightly reminds us that philosophy covers a very wide range of topics for eventual application, such as ethics, technological development, religious culture, political agenda, and European and Chinese philosophical traditions. Students may feel free to investigate many potential topics of interest after having learnt the fundamentals of philosophy. Such a broad foundation brings new perspectives, and different dimensions, to the task of viewing life. As we have seen in Vivian’s case, even when experiencing acute difficulties a person may reframe circumstances by switching to a different, more value-laden perspective. This is the art of philosophical practice. Additionally, studying philosophy trains students to be logical and analytical–more mindful–thereby enhancing their critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills which, of course, are best suited for any job. Although few enterprises consider a philosophy degree as an entry requirement, a philosophy Major provides an excellent foundation for careers across different fields and offers students greater autonomy, perhaps, when choosing their careers.
In conclusion, I hope this interview will help to change public misconceptions and attitudes about philosophy. I would also like to encourage philosophy students to leave their worries behind -life is filled with endless opportunities. We should embrace the present moment and enjoy the rest of our journey at HKBU.
LUI Wing Kwan, Wing (Department of Religion and Philosophy)
English Translation by
WONG Hau Tung (Department of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies)
Extracted from <Arts Fanfare> Issue No. 10