My first undergraduate degree was in “Plan II” (my second was in C.S. after 3 semesters in law school) which is an honors liberal arts degree program at UT Austin that tried to provide an “ivy league” experience — top professors and small class sizes. As a result, I ended up taking 15 hours in philosophy. Although I never would have taken any philosophy on my own, I have to say that these classes were some of the most influential and enlightening that I took.
I’m also a big fan of the Sci-fi and Fantasy book genres and I recently started reading Terry Goodkind’s “Wizard’s First Rule” on an acquaintance’s recommendation. I’ve really enjoyed the book and as I was reading it, I recognized some Ayn Rand-ish concepts (IE objectivism) so I googled Terry Goodkind and was browsing around his very nice website where I found this:
Some people use big words to try to make their beliefs sound scholarly and important or, worse, to hide the fact that their beliefs don’t make any sense. Don’t ever allow such people to bully you with their attempts to make philosophy impossibly complex, or intimidate you into accepting what they say. What this kind of person wants is for you to blindly believe them; they don’t want you to think for yourself.
Reason demands clarity. Whenever presenting your views it is essential to be clear about those beliefs and to frame them rationally. When confronted with reason, some of those without rational arguments or beliefs will frequently switch to personal attacks. Obscenities and insults are the product of an ineffectual mind, merely the crude tools of the enemies of reason and thus the enemies of life. You cannot reason with this type of person; they are incapable of reason. Clarity and reason are tools of truth. Use them to better your own life.
Now whether you agree or disagree with objectivism (I find it incomplete and overly simple, personally), you have to wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments about philosophy and clarity of thought in general. The world would be a much better place if more people took Goodkind’s advice to heart.