The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual belief of his age or nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind.... the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize... we find... that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given.
...we had a heated discussion in which you made a remark about 'national character' that shocked me by its primitiveness. I then thought: what is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc. & if it does not improve your thinking about the most important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any... journalist in the use of the DANGEROUS phrases such people use for their own ends. You see, I know that it's difficult to think well about 'certainty', 'probability', 'perception', etc. But it is, if possible, still more difficult to think, or try to think, really honestly about your life & other people's lives. And the trouble is that thinking about these things is not thrilling, but often downright nasty. And when it's nasty then it's most important.... You can't think decently if you don't want to hurt yourself.
I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well has history and philosophy of science. So many people today -- and even professional scientists -- seem to me like someone who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is -- in my opinion -- the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth.