Is everyone able to learn philosophy? If not, what kind of person is able to learn philosophy?

Does learning philosophy require a certain intelligence or talent? If I start at the age of 18, is it too late?

I am a student of vocational high school, majoring in informatics engineering. I rarely read books other than textbooks, and just recently read a non-textbook book titled Sophie's World. That is what led me to this question.


2 Answers 2


First, age 18 certainly is not too late to start philosophy. Most people do not start studying philosophy until college or later, and no less an authority than the ancient Greek philosopher Plato recommended that philosophy be reserved for adults (to avoid confusing children morally).

In my opinion, anyone can learn philosophy, but in my experience, most people do not enjoy it. You need a questioning mind, and a certain openness to strange and unfamiliar ideas. Many very smart people are not comfortable with this.

The original definition of the word "philosophy" is "love of wisdom," and I would argue that loving philosophy (not having a certain IQ or talent) is the main prerequisite for studying it successfully. Having an good grasp of logic definitely helps a lot, but that is a learnable skill.


It might be argued that everyone should be forced to study philosophy to a certain level but as to whether everyone can learn it this is another question. It is clear that the vast majority of professional are unable to do so.

What kind of person can learn it? I'd say one who is curious, at least averagely intelligent, scrupulously honest, loves reading and thinking, is a little arrogant, is an iconoclast, has the courage to follow the logic wherever it leads, is good at self-study, is too lazy to study theories that do not work and who is reluctant to go anywhere near a university philosophy course.

Age eighteen is not too late, nor is age seventy-eight. Philosophy is like a musical instrument, it's never too late to derive some benefit from studying it. if you mean study to become a professor then eighteen is probably just in time, but if you mean study so that you come to some understanding then the pressure is off and you can start anytime. The former task is enormous, the latter more manageable. For me it was age fifty, so plenty of time yet.

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