Philosophy is one of the most ancient and fascinating areas of human knowledge and a special kind of man’s spiritual life. The emergence of philosophy became a revolution in the spiritual world of the society. People have attempted to understand the world as it is. With the emergence of philosophy, the consciousness of mankind was formed (Gaarder 10). However, there is still no clear opinion on the value of philosophy both for a particular person and the society, and this question is not completely answered. Therefore, the following paper is dedicated to the definition of the value of philosophy both for individual and the society.
Before defining the value of philosophy for an individual, it should be noted that each person is born twice. The first time he/she comes into the world as a living being, and then adapts to it and also fits it to himself/herself. The person organizes and harmonizes his/her personality and creates own “sketch” of reality, forms the principles of the universe and life, interprets everything that surrounds him/her, clarifies and constructs the meaning of life. A person develops a unique set of intellectual and emotional attitude to the world, which is a system of beliefs, ideals, principles, knowledge and activity – in other words, the outlook. The process of the “second birth” comes naturally through using common sense and reasoning, but it is possible to say that during it, a person develops the ability to think philosophically (Gaarder 230). As a result, he/she begins to understand his/her place and role in the world and this knowledge may affect all his/her further life. The same can be said about the society as its consciousness is affected by the consciousness of each of its members. Nowadays, many human societies are referred to as “gray masses,” i.e. they consist of people who do not realize the importance of understanding the connection between the individual and the world, which leads to crisis. On the other hand, when society members possess high professional, moral and spiritual qualities and understand their role and place in it, the society may reach a high level of both spiritual and technical development and will be able to find the exit from the current global crisis. Albeit indirectly, philosophy is connected to the process of global and strategic decisions that determine the direction of human activity, i.e. it guides people. Therefore, philosophical knowledge has a high value both for a particular person and the society as a whole.
Philosophy as a type of spiritual activity exists for many centuries and at all times there has been no shortage of people who deny its social significance both for man and the society. Philosophers were accused in different ways, but the essence of the charges was unchanged: they do not bring direct benefits to society. Philosophy does not provide means such as knowledge and skills for producing material goods and services, and philosophical achievements and discoveries are mostly immeasurable. This trend is especially strong in the modern materialistic society. Nowadays, many people consider philosophy to be a waste of time and, as a result, there are not many philosophers today (Engel 392). In part, all these charges can be recognized as valid. Philosophical knowledge is “consumed” by relatively small circle of people with high education and those involved in decision-making, such as leaders of the countries. In other words, philosophy refers to the intellectual and political elite (Engel 393).
However, despite its focus on intangible problems, philosophy still has an indirect impact on the well-being of humanity. For example, the experts studying various specific conditions require a common view of the world, its principles and general patterns. However, they do not produce such information by themselves. Particular sciences use generic mental tools (categories, principles, various methods of knowledge), but scientists do not deal with the development, systematization, and comprehension of cognitive techniques and tools. The foundations of science are studied, practiced and formed in the field of philosophy (Engel 395). Thus, despite not producing any material benefits, it serves as one of the important factors for the development of society.
Therefore, if the humanity is suddenly deprived of philosophy, such a loss would lead to irreparable consequences. Through the development of philosophy, people not only improve their minds. They mobilize their intellectual capacity to understand the fate of humanity, and they have no other means for refining the knowledge and finding the most robust and flexible responses to the questions posed by humanity that are more reliable than philosophy. In order to develop and prosper, the society must gain full understanding of spiritual culture, reasonable science control and regulation of world processes. This problem cannot be addressed outside of the contemporary philosophical knowledge of the world. Therefore, philosophy is of a high value both for a person and the society as a whole.