In Iran, the government and the people don't pay much attention to humanities. There is a sense among most parents that only Engineering and Medicine are important. That view is much worse when it comes to philosophy. My friend thinks it's a non-practical, useless, confusing object. But I have discussed with him about Epistemology and talking about knowing that the truth is related to perspective and that there is no real truth. Then he said "Ok. I understood we can't know truth about anything --then what?"

I've told him that if you know all of the sciences but you can't think critically you have missed a big thing. but he just said "Ok" in an ignoring manner.

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    Welcome to the Philosophy SE. This question is not really suited for the Philosophy SE, as it will generate opinion based answers and seems to be more about psychology or pedagogy than philosophy per se. That being said, as an Electrical/IT engineer who developed an interest in philosophy later in life, my gateway was through Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Science, both which have more obvious connections to technical disciplines. Dec 16, 2016 at 3:04
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    Do not preach, seduce. Find a puzzle involving bodies and machinery that might engage him, like the teleportation paradox or simulation hypothesis or philosophical zombies or Mary's room or Franfurt's mind control. Untangling it might ease him into philosophizing before he even knows it.
    – Conifold
    Dec 16, 2016 at 5:39
  • Aren't the secondary schools full of learning poetry? How do people become lawyers or learn history or languages? (it's not like parents in the West are encouraging their kids to go into philosophy either)
    – Mitch
    Dec 16, 2016 at 21:32
  • We all utilize philosophy every day. It's just that most of us don't examine our philosophy, so it is often incoherent and nonsensical. I would argue that any value judgment is philosophical, every decision requires value judgments, and so you can't get away from philosophy. You have the choice of either educating yourself or letting yourself be driven by whatever ambient philosophy you've absorbed from your environment. Dec 17, 2016 at 0:19
  • Wrong close question. This duplicates philosophy.stackexchange.com/q/45838.
    – user64125
    Feb 3, 2023 at 7:25

4 Answers 4


In my experience you can't make anyone like philosophy (or anything for that matter). But you can help them appreciate it. Here are some things that might help:

  1. What is philosophy? It seems to me that everyone in a general audience thinks they know what philosophy is. But in reality, the common depiction of such questions are skewed heavily by pop-culture and media. Additionally, the writers and subjects most frequently known tend to be thing like existentialism or the general what is the meaning of life questions. Perhaps you can appeal to your friend's technical side by letting him understand that if they do not find topics in Continental Philosophy rigorous enough for him or too abstract, there are many approaches in other more recent fields that are far more mathematical. If your friend is more practical, perhaps appeal to him on the level of applied philosophy. He may be interested more in the broad field of pragmatism or even utilitarianism (applications to economics and value-theory, motivation), or ethics. With ethics, a recent example that came up in the news was about how self-driving cars should decide which lives to save in an accident. Ethics can also be studied in the context of political disputes and war. These are much more concrete applications that might help him if he thinks philosophy is just too abstract or wrestles with questions that go nowhere.

  2. Philosophy has led to many important scientific developments. While philosophy may not use the same methods as science, it has helped clarify many fields that are common use today. The whole field of machine learning and AI - a very popular and widely applied modern field - is a result of computational theory which really stems from a lot of the work that started with Bertrand Russell and his contemporaries. Theory of Mind may help us clarify question in computational neuroscience.

  3. Probability and statistics are based in epistemology. Philosophy of science, null hypothesis testing, and fields of probability developed in part out of a desire to understand what we can know with the most certainty and how we can decide between the validity of different kinds of truths (or how we can define truth in the first place). All of this relates to epistemology.

  4. Arguing the extremes help us clarify the practical. To me, and many philosophers, any question is a valid one no matter how extreme or unconventional. Engaging in these debates at the extremes help us clarify why we may feel a certain way about a topic or get the root cause of why we hold certain assumptions and whether or not we should keep them. It does not mean that we would actually consider the proposals made at these extremes or apply them to our own lives.

  5. Philosophy helps you question and think critically. Sometimes it's not so much about answering the hard questions but the thought process that goes into it. We build our beliefs upon assumptions and when it comes time to face or change these assumptions it can be challenging. By learning to question or think about the world and consider ideas you would normally have dismissed - or learn to refute poorly reasoned arguments - you can better apply decision making skills to your own life.

There are many other reasons to appreciate philosophy but in my opinion these are some of the most practical ones. You can't convince your friend to become interested in it (he has to do that on his own) but you can at least demonstrate to him that there are many important and relevant applications of philosophy that underlie everything that is common to him in the world today.


There is a sense among most parents that only Engineering and Medicine are important. That view is much worse when it comes to philosophy. My friend thinks it's a non-practical, useless, confusing object. But I have discussed with him about Epistemology and talking about knowing that the truth is related to perspective and that there is no real truth. Then he said "Ok. I understood we can't know truth about anything --then what?"

Your friend is wrong about philosophy per se being impractical, useless and confusing. Your particular ideas are impractical, useless and confusing and false.

First, there is your question about making somebody interested in philosophy. You can't. If you can offer him something he values he might investigate it further, but you can't make him adopt it, nor should you try.

Second, you've offered nothing of philosophical value and otherwise presented confused fundamental accounts of philosophical issues. Truth is correspondence to reality. If a statement corresponds to reality, it is true otherwise it is false. It is perfectly possible to understand the world, and to generate true objective knowledge. The explanation for how this is possible involves physics. It is possible to construct universal computers that can simulate any physical system to any desired degree of accuracy:


It is possible to create knowledge by looking for problems with current knowledge, proposing solutions to those problems and criticizing them until only one is left, then you look for a new problem. The process of criticism involves working out what would happen if the theory is true which involves calculating the consequences of your guess: computation. You them compare the consequences of your guess to reality. For more on computation, physics and epistemology see "The Fabric of Reality" and "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch. for more on espistemology see "Realism and the Aim of Science" by Karl Popper, Chapter I and "Objective Knowledge" by Popper Chapter 1.


Every philosopher faces this problem. It's a small minority of people who have a natural inclination towards philosophy. Unfortunately it is often the case that even those who are most passionate about the sciences will be hostile towards the prospect of questioning the underlying foundations of scientific concepts. Some philosophers just accept this and address themselves solely towards the already philosophically engaged audience. Of the well-known philosophers who did address a wide audience, here are some of the major approaches:

  • Socrates - Asked questions only, didn't supply answers.
  • Plato - Created a wide set of works aimed at showing different people how his philosophy was applicable to their specific interests.
  • Confucius - Skipped over the larger questions in favor of offering specific advice to people.
  • Zen Buddhists - Focused mainly on living out their philosophy, shared it only with those who proved themselves wholly dedicated to understanding it.

In my own experience, I've found the most luck in bringing a wider philosophical perspective to conversational topics initiated by the other person, rather than expecting him or her to find philosophical concepts in the abstract as fascinating as I do. Telling your friend he has missed "a big thing" will inevitably be met with contempt. Unless you can describe exactly what that "big thing" is and why it impacts him, he is correct to say "so what?"


How? By disabusing yourself of the notion that philosophy is other than love of wisdom. Philosophy has nothing to do with "thinking critically" (whatever that may mean to you) nor does it have anything to do with "the humanities". Philosophy is love of wisdom. Its purview is logic, rhetoric and reason, its domains ontology and epistemology, its toolbox analysis and its pastime the rejection of false argument.

The translation of philosophy from the Greek has stood 2500+ years despite the term misused to mean "a way of looking at things". "Love" in the context of initial utterance was used like we now use "virtue" "respect" or "reverence". To the point, what is respected with philosophy? Wisdom. Some say wisdom is the intelligent application of knowledge, but intelligent according to whom? No. Wisdom simply obtains knowledge and that is all. What is it that is obtained? Knowledge is empirical verification of what is (else how do you know what is?) What is (i.e. the world, the case, states of affairs, et cetera) is that which is empirically verified.

Statements regarding what is (the world, the case, states of affairs, etc.) are either true or false and this has nothing whatsoever to do with perspective. Perspectival (and situational) statements are "what is true to [you; me; us; or them]". What then is truth? Truth is simply a condition of propositions (statements, assertions, etc.) which is satisfied when what is said is corresponds with what is (the case, the world, states of affairs, etc.)

Again, respect for obtaining empirical verification of what is (read: philosophy) is not a way of looking at things. If it were then an oasis and a mirage would have epistemic and ontological equivalence. They do not. If a way of looking at things were adequate for determining or even merely stating the case then the world would be flat and you could sail off it. You can not.

Ways of looking at things are to be either agreed or disagreed with like so much gossip, sentiment and opinion. Solicitations to agreement with perspectives are often offered as if they were philosophy. They are not.

For yourself and your friend, consider the instrumentalist ethos: tell any would-be philosopher that if after opening their eyes you cannot be assured of knowing something that you did not know before, or, failing that, that you cannot at least be able to assess whether what they say can eventually lead to something you did not know before, simply tell them they have no philosophy.

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