A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Philosophy

By Elena

Philosophy can be complicated, especially since there’s so many different branches of philosophy. Furthermore, when no one can exactly agree on morality, and there’s so many different opinions out there, it can get confusing. A lot of people tend to want to shy away from philosophy, but there’s no need to. Although it may seem confusing, a lot of the time the ideas are a lot more simple than you may think.

Image: Sincerely Media

Take notes

To understand philosophy, a lot of people I know like to either take notes. This can be really beneficial however if you want to maximize the benefit you receive from these notes, you should use your own words. Philosophy often uses confusing terms and flowery language which can be hard to understand, but if you take notes using your own words, you’re going to be able to understand it better.

Although it can be a little bit confusing at times, a lot of the ideas might actually be rather simple at its core. Taking notes can help you distinguish from the most important ideas, and the ideologies presented to you might make a little more sense.

Write on the book

I know this is a rather frowned upon practice by many, however underlining the most important phrases and drawing pictures of the ideas on the side will help you understand the ideas better.

If you’re reading a philosophy book, marking up the book will help you when you want to go back through to either remind yourself of some of the ideas or if you want to make sure you understand an idea.

Philosophy can get really complex sometimes, and writing on the book might help you keep track of what the author’s main points are.

If you’re a debater reading a philosophy book, chances are you’re probably going to go through after a read through to use the ideas in a round, and marking up the book is going to help you in your prep.

Look stuff up

If you don’t understand something, Google is your best friend. Philosophy literature often has strange vocabulary or ideas that don’t quite make sense. Lucky for you, you have the largest database in your pocket.

There’s a lot of experts on philosophy online, and if you don’t understand something, someone has probably written an article about it. In fact, there’s a lot of websites that are dedicated to explaining philosophy. 

If you have a question, someone else likely had the same query before you. Philosophy can get heavy at times, but I promise the internet is there for you.

Ask a friend

If you’re lucky, you might have a friend that can easily understand philosophy, or is already familiar with the philosophy you’re studying. Asking them for help really might be your best option. They probably understand how to best explain a topic to you, and you’re probably pretty good at understanding your friends.

If you aren’t as lucky, there’s a simple psychological trick you could try. If you ask a friend for help, and then go on to try to explain what you do understand and ask them to help you figure out what you don’t understand, the dots might magically connect, and you might be able to figure everything out on your own.

Try to explain it 

This is kind of similar to the psychological trick I just explained, however it isn’t quite the same. If you have to explain something to someone, you might make some key connections, just because you’re trying to put things into words for someone else to understand.

You don’t truly understand anything unless you can explain it and put it into your own words. If you can’t do that, there isn’t really any point in you knowing something. A large reason why we learn things is to communicate with others the ideas we’ve learned. If you can’t do that, then a key instrument in your comprehension is lost.

Ask us!

If you’re having trouble understanding philosophy, and don’t know who to ask, you can ask us! Both Lily and I have a knack for understanding heavy philosophy, and would be more than happy to help you. If you want a guarantee that we’ll help you, you can become a patron on our patreon. We also go through our comments, the messages we get through our contact page, and our dms on social media rather frequently, so if you leave us a message in any of those spots, we will try to get back to you.

Thank you so much for reading this article! If you enjoyed it, please leave a like and subscribe to our rss feed. Leave a comment with your favorite philosopher down below, as well as any suggestions you have for future articles. Stay tuned for this upcoming Wednesday for a collaboration between me and Lily on how to build your confidence! We would really appreciate it if you subscribed to our patreon for some exclusive content, and a guarantee that we’ll write your article suggestions. As always, keep on overachieving and we’ll see you on Wednesday!

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4 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Philosophy

  1. Great advices on your post.as a philosophy teacher myself, I find that explaining something, anything, whether it is philosophy or anything else, makes u understand it more. Love your post!

    Liked by 1 person

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