What was the most profound insight you had from the study of philosophy?

This is of course a totally unfair question for a fan of philosophy. On the one hand, I am reminded of something Rousseau wrote in Emile:

“When I was told to believe everything, I could believe nothing, and I knew not where to stop. I consulted the philosophers, I searched their books and examined their various theories; I found them all alike proud, assertive, dogmatic, professing - even in their so-called skepticism - to know everything, proving nothing, scoffing at each other. This last trait, which was common to all of them, struck me as the only point in which they were right….”

A postmodern perspective so permeated my thinking for many years, I forgot why I loved philosophy. Then, after years of reading post-enlightenment thinkers, I returned to Aristotle. That’s when I realized - with more conviction than I had previously - that the questions Aristotle asked are the basis for many volumes of exposition that came later, and many of his answers were among the best ever written down.

This frames a “dialectic pair” of insight that I might consider profound regarding philosophy: a lot has been written, but not a lot has been said.

Along similar lines, I still consider virtue ethics the most attractive option for moral philosophy, and one which has only been amplified or expanded by later efforts.

Interestingly, after years of also studying spiritual traditions, it was difficult to escape a growing conclusion that similar intuitions seemed to have played themselves out across many cultures, and over vast expanses of time and place. This further reinforced the realization that a lot has been written, but not a lot has been said. On this note I would offer this quote:

“Of all the words yet spoken,

none comes quite as far as wisdom,

which is the action of the mind

beyond all things that may be said.”


But to drill down one more layer, I suppose it was dialectic tension-and-resolution itself that captured my attention early on and has stuck with me over the years, permeating all of my thinking across several disciplines, as influenced by the many different philosophers who incorporated it into their thinking.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/What-was-the-most-profound-insight-you-had-from-the-study-of-philosophy


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