“Philosophy? Who needs it!?” Ayn Rand asked and answered this question in an address with that title, which she gave to the West Point graduating class on March 6th in 1974. Her answer was: You do!
What is philosophy?
In her words, it is that science which
She, in that article and elsewhere, goes on to point out that philosophy has five branches:
Why should people care about it?
Her answer to that was that its influence was inescapable. The mere fact that man is a conceptual being makes him forever dependent on philosophy, that no matter what he will act on at least some sort of implicit philosophy, which is then going to affect his life for good or for ill. In her words,
People should care about philosophy because man’s whole life depends on it, where, as Objectivist economist and philosopher Dr John Ridpath put it in blunt terms, “bad ideas KILL.”
answered Sep 19 '10 at 18:38
Man lives in active contemplation of his own power to choose, of his vulnerability and mortality, of the forces that affect him in nature and his social environment, and of the limited extent of his knowledge. Philosophy is essentially the skin of this reflective capacity. Figuring out what to do, what to choose, and what to believe, in all the situations of life, and making it consistent so that one choice doesn't invalidate another, is just what philosophy amounts to. As philosophy, we can draw on the wisdom of thousands of years of experience and the insights of many great thinkers to supplement our own understanding. For the exact same reason that one doesn't want to be stupid or blind or ignorant or clueless, one does want to have a philosophy.