What is the study of philosophy and why study philosophy?
Philosophy is commonly defined as the "love of wisdom". However, this doesn't tell us much about what is being studied. Therefore, I prefer to break it down to its many branches. The main areas are critical thinking, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, social and political philosophy, phenomenology, and existentialism.
Critical thinking is the study or argumentation and logic, including inductive and deductive logic. Ethics is the study of moral principles (what is right and what is wrong).
Metaphysics is the study of topics beyond the physical realm such as God, the soul, the afterlife, and free-will.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge - how we know what we know.
Social and political philosophy is the study of topics such as the ideal government, the ideal society, the ideal economic system, and the best way to govern society.
Phenomenology is the study of how our mind interprets and perceives the eternal world.
Existentialism is a school of thought in philosophy that goes against Western, analytical philosophy, and emphasizes "irrational" elements in the world and in life. It also focuses upon core life issues such as how we should live, acceptance of free-will, and shaping/taking responsibility for our moral actions.
Why should you study philosophy and how does it benefit you?
Let me first explain that our brain is very much like a computer. A computer is not practical without software, such as the multitude of programs made for Apple's iOS or Microsoft Windows. Philosophy, just like any discipline of study, is like software for our brain. Studying philosophy, therefore, is like adding software to our brain, and along with it, all the benefits that comes along with it.
Philosophy is beneficial because it trains our brain to think more analytically, critically, and to see various sides of the argument. It enables us to deeply explore certain fundamental issues such as happiness and morality. It is through this deep, analytical, and insightful study that enables us, as human beings, to exercise our full human potential as contemplative animals. As human beings, we not only contemplative and rational, but we also explore, invent, innovate, have the power of speech, pursue artistic expression, learn from our mistakes, and continuously evolve to become better in all aspects of life. In sum, the study of philosophy makes us into better and smarter people, and we can use these skills in however manner we choose to.
Some philosophy majors may pursue law school, some business, some medicine, and some teaching just to name a few practicalities. Students use their analytical skills, research skills, logic skills, and their insightful thinking to pursue their own field of interest, and in doing so, it makes them better in their own respective fields.