Why practice philosophy as a way of life?

Metaphilosophy 51 (2-3):411-431 (2020)


This essay explains why there are good reasons to practice philosophy as a way of life. The argument begins with the assumption that we should live well but that our understanding of how to live well can be mistaken. Philosophical reason and reflection can help correct these mistakes. Nonetheless, the evidence suggests that philosophical reasoning often fails to change our dispositions and behavior. Drawing on the work of Pierre Hadot, the essay claims that spiritual exercises and communal engagement mitigate the factors that prevent us from living in accord- ance with our conceptions of the good life. So, many of us have reasons to engage in philosophical reasoning along with behavioral, cognitive, and social strategies to alter our behavior and attitudes so that they’re in line with our philosophical commitments. In these respects, many of us should practice philosophy as a way of life.

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Javier Hidalgo
University of Richmond

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