How to Get Started with Philosophy

“An important place to begin in philosophy is this: a clear perception of one’s own ruling principle.”


How do you even get started in philosophy? It seems so imposing, sometimes. Ryan Holiday makes it clear in his book — philosophy begins with understanding that you can examine your own thoughts. Once you realize that you have that ability to think critically about all the things that race through your heart and mind each day (instead of just letting them happen to you), then you’ve taken the first step.

Philosophy starts with awareness — and indeed that is the focus for the entire month of March in Holiday’s book The Daily Stoic. Awareness that you’re alive, that you have thoughts and beliefs, and that they can be considered and scrutinized and even controlled. And that’s where stoicism comes in: when we understand that we don’t have control over much of anything in the external world, but we do have control over what happens on the inside. If that’s the only thing we can control, why not study and maximize our understanding of it, right?

Once you understand that it’s possible to analyze your thoughts instead of letting them rule you, then congratulations: you have officially gotten started with philosophy.

So — what’s next? It’s time to put in work. You already know who you are, but do you know where and why you are?

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