In ancient times philosophy wasn't vain, as it was the contemporary search for a deeper understanding of nature and people. But today - sadly - it seems philosophy is not entirely, but still mainly employed by groups of pseudo-intellectual wannabe-elitists who think in order to understand topics like 'consciousness' or 'how societies work' they can skip years of education in the field, but that they can understand it intuitively through semantic constructions and well-sounding but empty phrases.
I don't want to critizise philosophy (or philosophers) per se, but the Oxford dictionary defines philosophy as "study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence". Since all these questions have been investigated much more successfully by physics, etc., I have to see philosophy as a vain practice.
I don't exactly remember this quote (or who said it), but "with all their thinking, philosophers didn't find the reality of quantum mechanics even after 2000 years".
Philosophy is really trying to find the answer to a questions, most of which really can't be answered (such as the meaning of life), simply by thinking about it which means you're lacking evidence. All ideas of math and science must come from some where and I'm not denying that thinking about it is the answer, but that thinking should be backed by evidence and lots of research before a valid conclusion to be reached. If philosophers begin to use evidence to support their thoughts, then it becomes entirely a different matter which we call science. Some questions, however, cannot be answered with even science, such as the origin or meaning of life. Science has tried to provide many explanations to both questions over the years, but all of them can be reasonably countered. Science may one day come to find a solid answer to questions like these but it's not in the foreseeable future, and until then it remains philosophy, which is a vain practice simply because it's all a big guessing game to which no one knows the answer, and simply thinking about it doesn't bring us any closer to finding our answers. We must find them with evidence, which again, is called science.
Science is commonly believed in our society to be the ultimate source of knowledge, yet its commonly accepted method, epistemological naturalism, a process that limits it to considering only material causes, is not science but philosophy. There is no scientific basis for assuming that all knowledge is obtainable by this method. In fact, our most immediate knowledge, the existence of our own conscious mind, is inexplicable by the scientific method. Through science we can only assume we are biological automatons, with no inner reality of mind and emotion. Only philosophy and is sister disciplines in religion and the humanities have the tools to address our most pressing concerns. Science can tell us many important and useful truths, but it can't tell us why we should give a damn about any of it.
It is a instrument we can use to plan the future. Our lives in the short term are governed by simple straightforward tasks. In this realm philosophy is useless as it has no immediate consequence over something. Yet if you look back at world history you will see that it a result of how people thought. Their actions over long spans of time have ultimately determine the way we live today. For example people who are conservative and/or religious have certain philosophical postures that are quite different from liberals. In the long haul these conservative postures have tremendous effects. For example Arabs were and are very conservative. In consequence they didn't evolved to the same level of sophistication as the western world did. Because the Europeans were more inclined to explore both physical frontiers and scientific ones while Arabs were more static.
As another more recent example, Germany has increasingly become a green country thanks to a political support for green technology adoption. This support ultimately comes from the people who like being green. After many years the people and the way they think is impacting on their own country. Definitely philosophy (the study of the way we think) shapes human beings in the long run and therefore it should be studied with great care.
It is a search for questions that arises at different points of life. If we do not search for answers to the question we face then probably we will not do good in life. Some might say that instead of philosophizing if we work we will prosper. Yes that's true. But we will prosper if we work rightly. What is the right work is a question that only philosophy can answer.
It opens our mind and enables us to "think outside the box", thus forming a base for every other scientific research and helping to improve the quality of our life and the entire society. Something that can do so much for improving critical thinking cannot be considered vain. Although it may seem unpractical and useless in everyday life, it is extremely important and necessary.
No it is not a vain practice. Philosophy even at the simplest it can be, is useful to a human as it make them more critical in there thought, actions and reactions to the world and those around you. It helps keep you from being a sleep walker in life.
By definition, critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It enables us to solve problems and make a distinction between unreliable sources of information and reliable ones. This helps us form logical arguments (a statement that is backed with reasoning) and acquire knowledge. Critical Thinking also encourages us to think "outside of the box", because it is a skill that engages us in reflective and independent thinking, Critical thinking "restricting" creativity is a common misconception, as it actually helps us evaluate and modify ideas, and comprehend the logical connections between them. Furthermore, critical thinking produces citizens who are capable of formulating intelligent questions. Thinking critically about social issues will help us overcome biases and prejudices in order to build a liberal and democratic society.
From what I can understand, the word vain is used in the connotation of it being a useless practice. Based on the argument I have typed above, philosophy is not merely a practice but an asset. Therefore, philosophy is not a vain practice.
Moral values we receive all the time from everyday world are shallow and narrow-minded. Surface of today's world is very ugly. We need to dig deep to see what is the real GOOD and BAD. Philosophy is also base of every progress in science. It might not be called philosophy, but it would still exist and it would affect our lives very much.