The Purpose of Reading About Philosophy

For sheep don’t throw up the grass to show the shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Thus, therefore, do you likewise not show theorems to the unlearned, but the actions produced by them after they have been digested. [1]

Reading a math book, you would expect to improve at math. Reading a cookbook, you would expect to learn new recipes or techniques. However, reading a philosophy book is only meaningful if you apply its wisdom to your own life.

Often, reading a book once won’t be enough to change your entire life. This is because even if you fully understand it (which you almost assuredly won’t), it isn’t so deeply embedded in your subconscious that it becomes your own wisdom. This is why people spend their lifetime studying religious texts.

An approach to making philisophical wisdom your own is To Understand A Book, Read It 100 Times.

  1. Epictetus, Enchiridion. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2004. ↩︎