On studying philosophy

I am often asked what it is that I shall wish to do in the future, or more rightly, what it is that I can do. One would think of an education in philosophy as having little value in this world so fixated on capitalistic endeavors. “Study engineering, or accounting, or economics, or medicine; leave philosophy to recreation.” On so many occasions have I heard this that I began to believe that there was no truth in my passions, but only in the words of others. I enrolled in the study of accounting; for what could be more practical than that guardianship of migrating numbers – the world functions on these numbers. But half a year into the course and I felt purposeless. Yes, there was a purpose to my drudgery – to earn a good living in the future – but even then, would I be truly satisfied? Of course, I did not think so, and left the course half a year later. To imagine myself as a mindless cog, planted in a tiny box and made to spin day to night, day to night, endlessly, drearily, like the prisoner who counts his days on the stone wall, and who admires from inside his cell the azure freedom beyond; will I not descend into my tombstone a corpse full of regret? Philosophy is what truly gives me life. It is what gives me purpose and meaning, and above all, a great deal of happiness.

What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose; the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.” – Kierkegaard, 1835.


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