How Philosophy Can Change Your Life


Joe deSousa via Flickr

Rodin's "The Thinker," which relates to philosophy's impact on the individual's thought pattern.

“The secret of realizing the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment of existence is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships out into uncharted seas!” -Friedrich Nietzsche

The enduring question of individual purpose is one that we all strive to answer. The pursuit of a meaningful life is what we ground all of our actions upon—it defines who we are, what our passions are, and how we lead fulfilling lives.

Philosophy can help us discover aspects of ourselves that we would otherwise not notice. It can facilitate seeing ourselves as we are; the same as everyone else, no more or less important than our brains would like. This ancient discipline can teach us where to allocate our most essential resources, therefore making life decisions easier and more focused.

Type One spoke with a few students on campus to get an idea of how philosophy impacts their lives. Writer Issac Masimore had the opportunity to interview Ben Badnani and Zain Chaudry, both seniors that use philosophy to push them to do things that they wouldn’t normally do.  Zain has been reading about philosophy since middle school and Ben gained his interest in philosophy from AP English teacher Mr. Lemole.  Philosophy helps them calibrate their path in life, follow their true selves, and live deeply.   

Who is your favorite philosopher and why?

Ben: “My favorite philosopher is Nietzsche because he states the purpose of life as exercising willpower and living as an ascetic. Additionally, he views stress and tragedy in life as positives—opportunities to grow through discomfort and hardship.”

Zain: “Mine is Diogenes of Sinope. He took everything he did to the logical extreme. He lived and breathed his philosophy—the epitome of dedication to change—he lived the way he believed he should. Most viewed him as an uncompromising, crazy old man who lived in a barrel. But the reason why Diogenes did this was because he believed in the beautiful simplicity of life.”

What is your favorite type of philosophy?

Ben: “My favorite type of philosophy is stoicism. In my opinion, it is the most pragmatic and applicable philosophy, teaching you how to master your emotions in response to events that you cannot control. All it takes is a shift of perspective and a change of heart.”

Zain: “Like Ben, I really appreciate Cynic philosophy, especially that of the Stoics. I deeply admire their dedication to the simplicity of life and their never-ending pursuit of happiness.”

How has philosophy changed your life as a whole?

Ben: “Philosophy has changed my life as a whole by continually moving me [to] meditate on different situations in life from multiple perspectives. For example, as a Stoic, you are encouraged to think about your death as a prospective and imminent event. This is used as a motivation to make the most of what time you have left. Most of you have probably heard the quote ‘Carpe Diem’—that was Horace, a Roman Stoic.”

­Zain: “Philosophy has given me a whole different way of thinking, and it has made me actually question the way I live. I actually feel like a blind has been lifted above my eyes; I have direction, I know what I’m doing, I can maximize the love and life that I was blessed with. All of it is so small and beautiful. I’m on this drifting green bean, a pale blue dot, floating millions of miles per hour through a sparkling and eternal darkness. And I can live whatever kind of life that I want.”

Photo Source: Joe deSousa via Flickr