Now some of you might say, as many people do: “Aw, I never think in such abstract terms — I want to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems — what do I need philosophy for?”
My answer is: In order to be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems — i.e., in order to be able to live on earth.
You might claim — as most people do — that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim.
Have you ever thought or said the following? “Don’t be so sure — nobody can be certain of anything.” You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him.
Or: “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” You got that from Plato.
Or: “That was a rotten thing to do, but it’s only human, nobody is perfect in this world.” You got it from Augustine.
Or: “It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” You got it from William James.
Or: “I couldn’t help it! Nobody can help anything he does.” You got it from Hegel.
Or: “I can’t prove it, but I feel that it’s true.” You got it from Kant.
Or: “It’s logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality.” You got it from Kant.
Or: “It’s evil, because it’s selfish.” You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activists say: “Act first, think afterward”? They got it from John Dewey.
Some people might answer: “Sure, I’ve said those things at different times, but I don’t have to believe that stuff all of the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it’s not true today.” They got it from Hegel.
They might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson.
They might say: “But can’t one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?” They got it from Richard Nixon — who got it from William James.
Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It