Using Philosophy To Become a Better Writer

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After an existentialism unit in my English class, I have had a sudden interest in learning about philosophy and what exactly that means. And it is a lot, let me tell you. Philosophy consists of so, so, so many schools of thoughts that it is really hard to keep track, and honestly, maybe impossible to learn them all in depth. Unless this is what you choose to devote your life to, but even then, there is a lot to learn. Anyways, I’m by no means an expert or even an intermediate honestly, but I want to share with you all how I use what I’ve learned about philosophy to become a better, stronger writer. I hope you enjoy!

What IS Philosophy Exactly?

A Wikipedia definition says that philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It involves thinking, discussion, rational argument, and questioning. Philosophy is basically the study of human life; how we think, act, etc, and why we do all that.

What Are Philosophical Schools of Thought?

A school of thought is a way of thinking, and in philosophy, there are a lot because humans cannot agree on just one way of thinking, let alone 10 or even 50. I’m only going to list 5 so you can get an idea of what I mean by “philosophical schools of thought”, but in this blog post, I’m probably only going to mention 3 or so later on.

  • Existentialism – A school of thought that emphasizes personal freedom
  • Nihilism – A school of thought that rejects religious and moral principles
  • Marxism – A school of thought based on the political and economic theories of Karl Marx, later associates itself with communism
  • Taoism – A school of thought that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, which means way or path
  • Stoicism – A school of thought that accepts the ways of the world whether they are positive or negative

How Can Philosophy Make Your Writing Better?

Having your story or one of your characters aligned with a philosophical school of thought, or just being aware of philosophy can increase the depth and physicality of your writing. Just because your incorporating philosophy doesn’t mean your story can’t still be a YA contemporary or even a fantasy, it just means you are increasing the quality of your story, character, and world.

Examples:

  • One of your characters is an existentialist. This allows you to explore how they interact with society, how society interacts with them, and how their beliefs affect the plot
  • The society of your world is a nihilistic society. First off, this would be terrifying but SO interesting to read about because how do the people who don’t believe in this school of thought live? How do people who disagree with nihilism keep their morality? How do those who follow nihilism live?
  • What would it look like to follow a character who enjoys studying philosophy? Does this allow them to make better decisions?

I know this was short, but I really wanted this to just plant the idea of exploring philosophy in your writing. It really does make for interesting stories and characters because we don’t see philosophy explored too often in modern literature, especially YA! Here are some resources to learn about philosophy:

Crash Course: Philosophy – This is put on by two authors, Hank, and John Green and they were SUPER helpful in teaching the basics of philosophy and other areas of it. I definitely recommend checking out this playlist, or at least a few of the videos on it to see if philosophy interests you.

The Outsider by Albert Camus – This is a novel that focuses on an existentialism character named Meursault, who after committing an immoral crime and fails to feel remorse for it, is cast as an outsider by society. It is a really interesting character study, and I learned so much about writing and writing characters from it.

That is it for this blog post, but I hope it was useful and eye-opening for you! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Beginner’s Guide to: Greek Mythology

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