I studied philosophy informally for the better part of a year. And even though at the time I was infatuated by philosophy, I could never find any pragmatic application for it.
But I feel that dabbling in the writings of Nietzsche, Marx and Mill (along with Locke, Descartes and Humme) forced me to critically analyze my political, personal, and religious beliefs. Most of my beliefs at those times were products of what my family and friends believed. And while environment plays an important factor in shaping beliefs, I don’t think that people’s beliefs should be a product of their environment alone. I think they need to critically analyze what their environment presents them with. Otherwise, I don’t think their beliefs can be their own.
What I enjoyed about philosophy was that it exposed me to parpdoxes and conflicts in life. And while plenty of perspectives were offered on how to ‘solve’ these problems, I somehow doubt that finding the solution was the underlying intention of any philosopher. Even when Descartes used his faith in God to come to terms with his understanding of objective reality, I think he was calling his readers to further analyze and critique his findings.
If I had never studied philosophy, I would still have my mother’s morals, my father’s God and my roommate’s politics. My understanding of the world would be through other people’s perspective and not my own. And while I’ve decided to not devote any significant amount of time to philosophy anymore, I’m glad I spent time studying it.