How to Understand Philosophy: 7 Easy Steps to Grasp Life’s big questions

How to understand philosophy

Introduction to How to Understand Philosophy

Philosophy is the systematic study of fundamental questions concerning existence, knowledge, values, reason, and the nature of reality. It seeks to understand the underlying principles that govern human thought, behavior, and the world we live in.

By engaging in philosophical inquiry, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, society, and the universe.

It explores the fundamental nature of our thoughts, beliefs, and values. While philosophy can seem complex and abstract, understanding its basic principles and ideas can provide valuable insights into life’s big questions.

But everything ends with one question for any beginner and that is where to start? How to understand philosophy?

In this article, we will guide you through seven easy steps trying to answer how to understand philosophy and navigate its vast landscape.

The Branches of Philosophy

The fundamental step in knowing How to understand Philosophy is by knowing about the branches of philosophy.

Philosophy is divided into several branches, each focusing on different aspects of human existence and knowledge and this is where your quest on how to understand philosophy begins!

Let us know in brief, about each branch : 


Metaphysics is also called “the study of reality

It explores the nature of reality, existence, and the fundamental structure of the universe. It deals with questions about the nature of being, the mind-body problem, free will, and the nature of time and space.


Epistemology is also called “the study of knowledge” 

Epistemology investigates the nature of knowledge and how we acquire it. It explores questions such as: What is knowledge? How do we justify our beliefs? What are the limits of human understanding?


Ethics or “the study of moral values” deals with moral principles and the concepts of right and wrong. It explores questions related to morality, ethical theories, and the application of moral principles to human conduct and decision-making.


Logic is concerned with reasoning and rationality. It examines the principles of valid reasoning, logical inference, and argumentation. Logic helps us develop critical thinking skills and analyze arguments for their validity and soundness.

Read: Discovering Your True Calling: Nurturing A Purpose-Driven Life

There are several other branches of philosophy that include Aesthetics – the philosophy of art, Axiology – the study of values, cosmology, Existentialism, and many more.

However, I do not want to distract from the core of this article which is the quest about How to understand philosophy.

Let us begin our 7 essential steps which a beginner can follow to satisfy his/her quest on How to understand philosophy. However, philosophy is a deep ocean of knowledge which makes it impossible to summarize in a few articles. 

Still, let us begin our journey on an interesting and meaningful quest:

Develop a Curious Mind

I say if you want to develop an interest in philosophy, become a child. Why? Because as children we all were curious and curiosity has been the mother of philosophy and thoughts, once human beings got their basic needs of food, clothes, and housing satisfied.

To understand philosophy, you must cultivate a curious mind. Philosophy encourages us to question assumptions, challenge conventional wisdom, and explore alternative perspectives. Embrace curiosity and approach philosophical inquiries with an open mind.

Without curiosity, there is no questioning and reflection and without them, there is nothing called philosophy. 

Read the Works of Philosophers

There have been great human beings in the past who walked upon this Earth. They have thought about every aspect of human life and its meaning and are still relevant. How lucky are we that if we only read those philosophers or thinkers, we could save a lot of time learning from our own experiences? Seeing, life is short, isn’t it a great deal to learn from the wise men from the past?

Reading the works of philosophers is essential to understanding philosophy. Start with foundational texts from renowned philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche, Stoic thinkers, Vedantic philosophers, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and many more. 

These texts provide insights into different philosophical ideas and help you develop a solid foundation of knowledge.

To establish a solid foundation, start your philosophical journey by studying the works of ancient thinkers. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle laid the groundwork for Western philosophy and addressed fundamental questions about morality, politics, and metaphysics. Reading their dialogues and treatises can provide valuable insights into the origins of philosophical thought and its enduring relevance.

Understand Philosophical Concepts

Philosophy is filled with intricate concepts that require careful consideration. Take the time to understand key philosophical terms and ideas. Familiarize yourself with concepts like ontology, epistemological skepticism, utilitarianism, deontology, and existentialism. Building a strong vocabulary of philosophical concepts will enable you to engage in deeper discussions and analysis.

Refer to this Wikipedia link on a series of philosophies to understand the basics of how to understand philosophy.

Take your own pace and time to read topics one by one. Embrace various perspectives and think about them.

You are not going to remain the same once you come closer to philosophy and philosophers.

Engage in Critical Thinking.

Critical thinking is a foundational and crucial skill in philosophy. Embrace logical reasoning, rationality, and skepticism to evaluate arguments and beliefs objectively. It involves assessing statements, questioning assumptions, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of different viewpoints.

Engage in reflective practices such as journaling or meditation to deepen your self-awareness and gain insights into your own philosophical perspectives. By nurturing critical thinking and reflective habits, you’ll develop a robust philosophical mindset that enhances your ability to grapple with life’s big questions.

One more simple yet significant habit is silence and solitude. When you practice these both, you automatically start thinking critically with time. You get waves of thoughts when you begin but it slows down with time and starts showing fruitful results. 

Explore Different Philosophical Perspectives

Philosophy encompasses a wide range of perspectives and theories. Explore different philosophical schools of thought, such as rationalism, empiricism, existentialism, and pragmatism. 

Understanding diverse perspectives will broaden your understanding of philosophy and help you develop your own philosophical framework.

To understand the diversity in philosophy, you can refer to Indian Philosophy which alone has six central schools of thought and multiple other branches. 

Without exploring the diversity of perspectives, you cannot enjoy the juice of philosophy.

After all, True wisdom is in knowing that you know too little and you still have to know a lot.

Discuss and Debate

Engage in discussions and debates with others who are interested in philosophy. Join philosophy clubs, attend seminars, or participate in online forums. Exploring philosophical ideas in a social setting allows for the exchange of diverse viewpoints and promotes intellectual growth.

Thought experiments and discussions are valuable tools for philosophical exploration. Thought experiments involve hypothetical scenarios that challenge our intuitions and prompt us to reconsider our beliefs. By articulating and defending your views, you’ll refine your thinking and gain insights from others.

Apply Philosophy to Life

We have reached the final step of our quest about How to understand philosophy and that is its use in real, day-to-day life. After all, if philosophy has no real use, why would anyone spend so much important resource, i.e. time on understanding philosophy? 

Let me tell you that Philosophy is not an abstract discipline disconnected from reality. To understand its practical implications, strive to connect philosophical concepts to real-life situations. 

Consider how ethical theories inform our moral decisions, how metaphysical ideas shape our understanding of existence, or how epistemological principles influence our pursuit of knowledge. By bridging philosophy with everyday life, you’ll witness its relevance and applicability.

You can use philosophical principles to examine ethical dilemmas, make reasoned decisions, and gain a deeper understanding of your values and beliefs. Apply philosophical frameworks to real-life situations and explore how they shape your perspectives and actions.

Conclusion: How to Understand Philosophy

Understanding philosophy is a rewarding journey that requires an open mind, critical thinking skills, and a passion for knowledge. By following these seven steps, you can embark on a path of philosophical exploration, enabling you to grapple with life’s big questions and develop a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you. I will bring on more articles on philosophy in the future, do share your views on this article in the comments below, and do not forget to follow TheFreedomSage on Twitter

Cheers to your success!


Can anyone understand philosophy? 

Absolutely! Philosophy is accessible to anyone with a curious mind and a willingness to explore complex ideas.

Do I need a formal education in philosophy to understand it?

While formal education in philosophy can provide a structured approach, it is not necessary. Self-study and engagement with philosophical texts can also lead to a comprehensive understanding.

Are there any prerequisites to understanding philosophy?

 There are no strict prerequisites. However, a basic familiarity with critical thinking and an interest in exploring abstract concepts can be helpful.

How can philosophy benefit my life?

Philosophy can enhance your critical thinking skills, broaden your perspective, and help you make informed decisions in various aspects of life.

Can philosophy provide definitive answers to life’s big questions? 

Philosophy doesn’t provide concrete, definitive answers, but it offers a framework for exploring and understanding complex questions, allowing for personal growth and intellectual development.

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