Too often philosophy is prematurely dismissed as impractical and irrelevant to everyday life. Sure, philosophy is part of history and we should at least know a little about those ancient Greek thinkers in togas, but does philosophy really matter to us today?
Sonlight's new 520: World History and Worldview Studies package takes a different approach to philosophy. Along with a study of ancient history through early 21st century history, 520 also addresses the topics of philosophy and worldviews.
Why do we include philosophy as part of this curriculum? Because philosophy does matter. It influences ideas the world over, from individual philosophies we affirm to philosophies that have a world impact, such as political philosophies.
While the Bible does warn against "hollow and deceptive philosophy" (Colossians 2:8, NIV), it also encourages us to use our minds (Matthew 22:37; Romans 12:2). Besides, philosophy means "love of wisdom" and wisdom is something the Bible encourages us to pursue (see Proverbs 8, for instance). We can also add that there are additional practical outcomes of studying philosophy. First, understanding philosophy can help us better understand history, especially how ideas shape culture. Second, knowing philosophy helps us avoid the mistakes philosophers have made. Third, when it comes to studying ancient philosophy we can learn about how much human beings can grasp of God's truth on the basis of what theologians call general revelation--insights gained apart from the Bible. Fourth, understanding philosophy can better prepare us to engage the many ideas we encounter on a day-to-day basis in life.
Given the influence of philosophy on history, two philosophy books included with 520 are Good Ideas from Questionable Christians and Outright Pagans by Steve Wilkens and Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult by Garrett DeWeese and J.P.Moreland. The book by Wilkens is a fun read, providing an engaging introduction to key philosophers and their main ideas. DeWeese and Moreland provide an important foundational introduction to the nuts and bolts of philosophy, such as how to think reasonably and an understanding of the main areas of philosophy.
French philosopher Descartes wrote, "The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries ... a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts." It is to our benefit to understand and know how to evaluate the ideas that have shaped our world through the centuries.