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A brief and modest defense of philosophy in the 21st century

A report from the World Economic Forum lists some of the skills required for jobs in the 21st century. It seems to me all of those skills are within the realm of philosophy. And many of the issues that overwhelm and worry us today are, without any doubt, philosophical issues. Like it or not, we need philosophy.

The World Economic Forum report specifies that new jobs require skills such as complex problem solving, the ability to follow a decision-making process in complicated situations, developing a strategic vision, and two must-have skills: critical thinking and expertise in multilevel communication.

Let's be honest: none of these skills or abilities is the exclusive domain of philosophy, but, at the same time, all of them are deeply connected with the thinking, knowledge, and practice of philosophy, understood here as a discipline for life and not only as a mere academic exercise.

From its very origins, philosophy has analyzed complex problems (what could be more complex than finding a purpose and meaning for our mortal lives?), has promoted critical thinking, and has sought answers and ethical and even metaphysical foundations to key questions, such as “What should I do?" and "What am I really saying when I say what I think I am saying?"

Therefore, the discipline that philosophy imposes on the mind serves as a foundation and helps develop many of the skills listed above, such as problem solving, decision making, strategic vision and critical thinking. Let's be honest: philosophy doesn't solve problems, but it does provide a framework and some tools to do so. 

At the same time, our current life is bombarded by challenges that until not long ago were considered unthinkable and believed to happen only in science fiction, such as ecological extinction (including human extinction), post-human ontology (Are we the last fully biological generation of humans?), the omnipresent digital horizon (Do we think or just post?), the technocontrol of biology and politics, and the arrival of superhuman artificial intelligence.

Simultaneously, the profound social changes, the undeniable climate change (whatever its origins and causes), the fragmentation of art and discourse, and the nakedness and incapacity of the current way of life left in evidence by the pandemic fill us with anguish as see that we live in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.

All the topics mentioned in the last two paragraphs are philosophical topics (exceeding the merely academic) because they are topics that do not seek answers just to satisfy a curiosity, but rather seek answers to determine if we are asking the right questions. 

In our context, where people believe that getting just a few "Likes" means they have been forgotten by the universe, philosophy is more urgent than ever, being forced to leave the classrooms and the books where (unfortunately) was previously relegated.

In ancient times, philosophers were the physicians of the soul. They were said to heal the soul. In Greek, "healing the soul" is said (not by chance) "psychotherapy", “psyche” meaning both “soul” and “mind”. 

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