Essay Question

In preparing to answer the essay question, you will need to read the paragraph below. Read it carefully and thoughtfully. We suggest you re-read it at least a few times. In other words, do not just “read” it: think about it. Ponder. You should only begin writing your essay once you are confident that you understand what is being said. Take your time and answer the question as clearly, carefully, and thoughtfully as you are able. We look forward to hearing what you have to say!

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Aristotle said that philosophy is not a practical, but a theoretical or contemplative science. Philosophy begins in wonder, and consists in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and not for any material gain or advantage: philosophy is not subjugated to any end beyond itself. Commenting on Aristotle’s statements, Josef Pieper remarked that once we admit this lack of “practical usefulness” in philosophy, we have thereby “rejected the totalitarian claim of a commercialized world,” affirming that there is a “realm in which such categories as ‘profit’, ‘feasibility’, ‘usefulness’, ‘efficiency’ mean nothing,” and that this realm is absolutely essential for a “truly human existence.”

Given this characterization of philosophy, what does it mean to be a philosopher—philosophos, “one who loves wisdom”—in the modern world?

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