The Value of Philosophy to the Society

 

The Value of Philosophy to the Society


We shall be discussing the value of philosophy to the society by examining the importance of the four cardinal branches of philosophy to the society at large. Suffice it to say that the value of philosophy to the society at large is a function of how the various branches of philosophy have benefited individual members of society who studied them.

In the opinion of Bertrand Russell, the man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason.

To such a man Russell says, the world tends to become definite, finite and obvious as common objects rouse no questions and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. Imagine a society populated by such individuals!

As soon as we begin to philosophies, however, we find out that even the most common things of life raise problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what the true answer to the doubts it raises are, it is, however, able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom.

All things around us as social beings are related or connected to every other thing else in some way or another weather we are conscious of it or not. Philosophy is vested with the responsibility of being that discipline which looks into the basic foundations of things as well as of social relations.

No matter how ignorant people may be concerning the enterprise of philosophy, they without notice, order their everyday affairs with philosophical principles. Philosophy is inevitably at the heart of the formation of any society. 

When a society is positively guided by philosophical principles, the results are usually seen in form of order, progress and development.

However, when this is not the case, then it is as a result of a misuse of philosophy. Philosophy does this ordering of society through its various branches. 

Every branch of philosophy is concerned in one way or another, directly or indirectly with particular problems of human experience.

Our interest in this article is to look into those areas where philosophy has impacted the society through it various branches.

By the end of this article, you would be able to State the value of Epistemology to the Society, identify the importance of Logic to the Society, show the relevance of Ethics to the Society and enunciate the importance of Metaphysics to the Society

 


Value of Epistemology to the Society

1. Epistemology has led to Advancements in Human Knowledge: Epistemology is at the basis of the scientific method and by implication, a form of science. The first people to use the scientific method were philosophers who were then, known as natural philosophers.

These natural philosophers were majorly epistemologists who made the assumption that through observation of the world we can arrive at some basic truths about the world. They were able to make this claim as a result of the regular patterns they observed around them and how everything seemed to happen in an orderly and almost regular form.

Most of the epistemic assumptions they made have been challenged time and again, but this is what makes all scientific discoveries possible.

Epistemologists were the first set of intellectuals to ask basic questions about how our senses could be trusted to make discoveries about the world around us. Therefore, epistemology essentially gave rise to science and has remained one of the most important philosophical endeavours that questions the legitimacy of all knowledge claims made about society.

2. Epistemology Frees the Society from the Tyranny of Custom: A lot of people go about in life without asking questions and seeking true knowledge about their customs, beliefs and practices. Customs and traditions should not be approached as dogmas as they are subject to modification and are meant to serve certain purposes in the society.

Therefore, as societies evolve, certain practices become irrelevant and contribute nothing meaningful to the life of the people.

Epistemology helps a people to ask basic questions which prompt them to evaluate their belief system to see if they are worth preserving. For example, it will be a display of lack of knowledge for a society which used to be agrarian and for that reason, encouraged polygamy for the purpose of raising many children who would grow up to work in the farms to continue to hold on to such a practice even when industrialization has taken over and the people now engage in white collar jobs. Epistemology makes knowledge available and frees a people from unjustified customs and practices.

3. The Challenge of Skeptics in the Society Leads to Social Development: In the tradition of epistemology, the skeptics are known to constantly challenge whatever knowledge claim we put out there, because they are interested in knowing whether we can be certain about anything. It is for this reason that there is a sense in which the entire project of epistemology is an attempt to meet this skeptical challenge by proving that knowledge is possible.

Skepticism as an idea connotes the critical spirit, the tendency of not being easily satisfied with superficial evidence and striving to accept only incorrigible beliefs that are absolutely certain.

“A skeptic will raise questions about social claims, be it religious, cultural or economic. They put social theorists, political leaders, traditional rulers and religious leaders on their toes, thereby strengthening the ideas that lead to social development”.

Philosophy, therefore, has brought about several social changes, defined by Abakare and Okeke as any form of alteration in the social order of the society. They believe it is a kind of paradigm shift where obsolete social ideas give way for new and better ones. However, such changes hardly take place without the skeptical challenge.

The basis of social change is the transformation in the thought processes of the human person. Knowledge of epistemology brings about new approaches to issues. This is possible because sceptics awaken the society from their mythological and dogmatic slumber; they help to sharpen the minds of the people and liberate them from the shackles of prejudices and sentiments.

They make the society aware that they can question certain cultures and traditions that are antithetical to reason and those practices that are not in tandem with reason are to be discarded or modified. This is where the illumination of philosophy through epistemology shines and brings about social change by providing the people with the intellectual disposition and stamina to jettison varied superstitious beliefs in their society.

 


Value of Logic to the Society

1. It Cultivates Sound Minds in the Members of the Society: The different ideologies of people in the society are informed by the way they think. The thinking processes of people can have various impacts on the society leading to changes in laws, economic systems and even war as well as overthrow of governments.

Ikuli and Ojimba are of the opinion that philosophy (and logic in particular) has been the catalysts to the development of any nation. This is, because, every society requires critical minds and trained intelligence to chart the cause of its past, present and future, as well as harness the available resources for maximum development.

Logic guides a nation in understanding itself and in acquisition of concrete outlook on life and of its proximate and ultimate ends. They believe that logic seeks to establish for the nation, a scale of values for the conduct of its people. In addition, it stimulates the fullest power of man to think rationally and eliminate emotional and irrational approach to situations by inculcating the habit of clear, exact, logical and critical thinking.

To this extent, it cultivates sound minds in the society and a developed society is nothing but a congregation of sound minds.

Thus, it serves as a navigating life compass for any nation and instills in its members, the right attitude needed for development.

2. It helps in the Resolution of Conflicts: Misunderstandings and conflicts can result from unclear and imprecise expression of desires which sooner or later can lead to more serious problems like chaos and wars between peoples and nations.

Most dilemmas between friends, family members and other member of society result from ignorance on the proper usage of language. These and many other problems confronting today’s society could have been solved, even before they commenced if only people learn how to study the structure of arguments and ascertain its validity and truthfulness.

Indeed, the study Logic is a very vital necessity which could lead to a more vivid, harmonious and progressive future. These are some of the numerous good reasons why it is helpful to study logic.

Logic allows people to improve the quality of the arguments that they create.

When we make rational arguments, we are apt to convince other people to agree with our claims and people are much less likely to believe that we have a valid point when we give them accurate and logical justifications.

3. Logic helps in Detecting Fake News: We presently live in society that is saturated by media information, especially the social media, where we are constantly being bombarded on all sides by unsubstantiated and sometimes, doctored information all in an effort to draw media traffic for selfish gains.

Politicians, advertisers, media persons and even private individuals are all trying to convince people online to buy what they are selling. It is also the case that a lot of fake enterprises are taking place online with the sole aim of defrauding the innocent and uncritical minds. 

The impact of fake news in the society has turned trust into a very scarce commodity. Relationships are built on one fundamental principle, and that principle is trust.

However, the erosion of morals has affected the level of trust between people. This is pervasive and everything from friendships to business transactions is severely constricted. The society can only rely on the knowledge of logic to navigate their ways out of the uncertainties presented by the media. 

Logic is the science of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning, and critical thinking is a process of evaluation that uses logic to separate truth from falsehood, and reasonable from unreasonable beliefs. If you want to better evaluate the various claims, ideas and arguments you encounter, you need a better understanding of basic logic and the process of critical thinking.

Logic is not a matter of opinion, when it comes to evaluating arguments, there are specific principles and criteria that logic affords us. This is important because sometimes people do not realize that what sounds reasonable is not necessarily logical.

 


Value of Ethics to the Society

1. Ethics Promotes Peaceful Co-existences Among People: We need to be ethical because it defines who we are as individuals in particular and as a society in general. There are norms of behavior that are prescribed for everyone to follow and the society could fall into chaos if we accept that each person could pick and choose what he or she feels is the right thing to do.

In such a situation, some people may lie, others may not keep their promises, and some others may act irresponsibly by engaging in harmful acts and claim that they have the freedom to so do. This form of behavior is capable of tearing the people apart and breaking down any form of healthy relationship they may have had. It is imperative to add here that, there is nothing wrong with pursuing one’s own interests.

However, an ethical person must be willing at least sometimes to place the interests of others ahead of self-interest. This is because we have a social responsibility to do so. It is in the preservation of the interest of others that we sometimes guarantee our own interests.

When we help make the society better, we are rewarded with also making better our own lives and the lives of our families and friends. Without moral conduct, society would be a miserable place.

2. Without Ethics, Our Society Would be One of Dishonesty: The role of ethics in our society is very important because it is the custodian of the basic beliefs and standards that make things to run in an orderly manner.

Ethics is necessary in all organizations and institutions, be it political, economic, legal or religious. Ethics is what gives us comfort knowing that we live in a society where we are able to make choices. It is as a result of our belief that doctors would act in an ethical manner that makes us feel comfortable putting our lives in their hands.

Without ethics, some doctors may knowingly misdiagnose their patients just for the sake of financial gains rather than for the persons’ health and well-being. 

In today’s society, laws and contracts are enforced to make sure that business deals are fair and that the both parties involved will keep to their part of the contract.

Without any application of ethics, our society would be one of dishonesty and uncertainty.

Asike noted that, through critical and reflective methods as well as moral theories of analysis, ethics helps the state to formulate its public policies, adding that, ethical research is a must for social, economic, political and technological advancement of any nation.

When, therefore, we talk of national development, we have to remind ourselves that the nation is only real and concrete in terms of people that constitute it.

The role of ethics, therefore, in the moulding of the character of the individuals is crucial to the overall development of the society.

3. Ethics forms the Foundation of Social Laws: Laws are made based on moral values which prescribe the basic minimum standards of human behaviour in a particular society. Both laws and ethics are systems which maintain a set of moral values and prevent people from violating them. 

But it should be noted that ethics is basic to the formulation of laws in such a way that any law that do not uphold ethical principles is described as immoral.

Ethics aids social laws in fulfilling the purpose of making people benefit from being members of a well-regulated society.

Another important way through which ethics impacts social laws is in the recognition of human rights. Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death.

They apply, regardless of where a person is from. They can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted when a person breaks the law or in the interests of national security. These basic rights are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence and are protected by law.

The United Nations has defined a broad range of internationally accepted rights, including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, and has established mechanisms to promote and protect these rights and to assist states in carrying out their responsibilities.

  

Value of Metaphysics to the Society

Ochulor noted that the overwhelming relevance of metaphysics to the society makes it unreasonable to radically reject it.

Once we accept the distinction between appearance and reality, and realize that things are not always the way they appear to us, then the role and value of metaphysics becomes evident.

Once we accept that man is not purely and exclusively material, that there are immaterial elements in his being, then we would be able to understand man’s irresistible urge to go beyond the physical realm of human life and experience, and strive for the spiritual realm through metaphysics.

Even Immanuel Kant, who was himself a thorough critic of metaphysics, still had to admit that the human being has a natural and irresistible tendency towards metaphysics.

Some of other values of metaphysics to the society are:

1. It is Inclusive and Integrative: From an African perspective, the concept of reality encompasses the totality of everything that exists: visible or invincible, actual or potential. This metaphysical system does not ultimately separate the mind from the body, neither does it separate subject from object.

In this manner, there is no distinction between religion and culture and no separation of spirituality from existence or existence from the totality of life. It is referred to as an inclusive system and therefore integrative. African metaphysics teaches us to be accommodating and tolerant as it associates rather than dissociates entities.

2. Social Values are Dependent on Metaphysical Principles: We may be familiar with the popular saying that ‘the spiritual (metaphysical) controls the physical’. This is simply a way of saying that physical realities are backed by metaphysical laws which may not be empirically visible to us.

Humans are guided in life by certain practical philosophical principles, which may be embodied in an established religious system or remain purely ethical and personal.

Ultimately, all such philosophical principles are based upon metaphysical principles.

Therefore, whether we are aware of it or not, the principles which govern the way we want to live and act ultimately depend upon certain metaphysical principles.

3. Metaphysics Influences Social Lifestyle: Metaphysics is one of the core branches of philosophy and has had much to do with influencing people’s attitude to life and bringing about changes in societies. The metaphysics of Socrates and Aristotle were certainly not pure abstractions that had nothing to do with the practical lives of people.

Likewise, Plato’s metaphysics was not irrelevant to practical life. On the contrary, it gave generations of humans a definite worldview which influenced their lifestyles. Plato’s world-view changed their attitudes towards life and led to their less emphasis on temporal material things with focus on eternal immaterial substances.

Through the influence of Plato’s metaphysics, the things of this world came to be seen in a new light which encouraged simplicity. Also, the metaphysical issue of whether or not there is a mind or soul and of its final destination has implications for how we relate with one another in society.

This metaphysical belief is at the foundation of most religions which themselves are agents of social cohesion and development.

 


Conclusion on the Value of Philosophy to the Society

The value of philosophy to the society has been looked into from the perspectives of the various branches of philosophy. 

Epistemology is unarguably the first intellectual domain to ask basic questions about how our senses could be trusted to make discoveries about the world around us. It asks questions about knowledge and the reliability of the human senses.

Therefore, epistemology essentially gave rise to science and is one of the most important philosophical endeavors that questions the legitimacy of all knowledge claims made in society.

Logic in contributing to social development, guides a nation in understanding itself and in acquisition of concrete outlook on life and of its proximate and ultimate ends. Logic seeks to establish for the nation, a scale of values for the conduct of its people.

In addition, it stimulates the fullest power of individual to think rationally and eliminate emotional and irrational approach to situations by inculcating the habit of clear, exact, logical and straight thinking. Ethics from what has been said so far defines who we are as individuals in particular and as a society in general. The norms of behavior that are prescribed for everyone to follow are necessary for social integration.

In metaphysics from an African perspective, we recognized that it teaches us to be accommodating and tolerant as it associates rather than dissociates entities.

We have been able to show that the knowledge of epistemology brings about new approaches to issues in the society. This is possible because skeptics awaken the society from their mythological and dogmatic slumber as they help to sharpen the minds of the people and liberate them from the shackles of prejudices and sentiments.

We also stated that logic helps us to detect and avoid fake news as the impact of fake news in the society has turned trust into a very scarce commodity. With respect to ethics, we drew our attention to the fact that it forms the foundation of social laws and that laws are made based on moral values of a particular society.

In line with this, ethics is said to aid social laws in fulfilling the purpose of making people benefit from being members of a well regulated society.

Finally, we said that whether we are aware of it or not, the principles which govern the way we want to live and act ultimately depend upon metaphysical principles.

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