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Defining Philosophy Essay

Philosophy derives from the two Greek words philein, which means ? to love,’ and sophia, which means ? knowledge’ or ? wisdom’ (Moore & Bruder, 2002, p. 2). This is not the only definition of philosophy as philosophy is a very vast subject. “A critical examination of reality characterized by rational inquiry that aims at the Truth for the sake of attaining wisdom” (Russo & Fair, 2000, 4). My interpretation of philosophy is a field of study where one thinks “outside of the box” in the search for knowledge or wisdom that does not involve scientific explanations.

There is no consistency in the nature of philosophical questions. The nature of many philosophical questions concern norms. The application of norms, also known as standards occurs when people decide whether something is good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. Normative questions ask about the value of something. The field of science explains how things are but does not tell us how things ought to be. Sometimes philosophical questions arise when different people believe different things. For example, some people believe that a cause-and-effect relationship exists in everything.

If a person drinks spoiled milk, he or she will get sick. There are others that believe when one voluntarily decides to do something- nothing made them decide to do that. This refutes the cause-and-effect relationship belief. Then there are many other ways to look at the situation. Is every happening caused? Or are some happenings uncaused? Or is it perhaps that decisions are not “happenings”? These questions cause a dilemma that involves philosophizing. The importance of some philosophical questions-Is there a God who is attentive, caring, and responsive to us?

and Is abortion morally wrong? -is obvious and vast. A justification would have to be given for not contemplating them. But some philosophical questions are of more or less obscure, and seemingly only academic or theoretical, consequence. Not everything philosophers consider is dynamite. But then, every field has its theoretical and non-practical questions. Some questions are inherently interesting to the people who pose them. Some philosophical questions are asked because the philosopher wants to know the answer simply to know the answer.

Most philosophical questions tend to fall into one of these four areas: Questions related to being or existence (Metaphysics), Questions related to knowledge (Epistemology), Questions related to values, and Questions of logic or the theory of correct reasoning. Metaphysics and Epistemology are branches of philosophy that are very similar to one another. The questions related to values are standards of conduct and conditions of responsibility. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that is concerned with these areas: Cosmology- Theory of reality and Ontology- Theory of being.

The two basic questions of metaphysics ask what is being? and what are its fundamental features and properties? Some specific examples of metaphysics questions are: What is the mind? Do people have free will? “Metaphysical bookstores,” for example, specialize in all sorts of occult subjects, from channeling, harmonic convergence, and pyramid power to past-life hypnotic regression, psychic surgery, and spirit photography. However, the true history of metaphysics is quite different.

Metaphysics has little to do with the occult or Tarot cards and the like. Epistemology is the theory of knowledge that asks what is the nature of knowledge and what are the criteria, sources, and limits of knowledge.

Specific examples of epistemology questions are: What is truth? and Is it possible to know anything with absolute certainty? The questions related to values involve four different philosophies: (1) moral philosophy (ethics)- is the study of right and wrong in human action or the philosophical study of moral judgments; (2) social philosophy- the philosophical study of society and its institutions; (3) political philosophy- which focuses on the state and seeks to determine its justification and ethically proper organization;

And (4) aesthetics- is the study of beauty or the philosophical study of art and of value judgments about art. Questions of logic or the theory of correct reasoning, seeks to investigate and establish the criteria of valid inference and demonstration. Logic is the study of the principles of right reasoning. Logic is the basic tool that philosophers use to investigate reality. The questions raised by logic are: (1) What makes an argument valid or invalid (2) What is a sound argument?

Philosophical questions differ from questions of a scientific or factual nature because philosophical answers usually entail making careful distinctions in thought, words, argument, and recognizing subtle distinctions among things and among facts. Philosophical solutions also require logic and critical thinking skills, discussion, and exposition. Philosophy involves one to learn how to look carefully for similarities and differences among things and develop an ability to spot logical difficulties in what others write or say and to avoid these pitfalls in their own thinking.

In addition, in philosophy people learn to recognize and critically assess the important unstated assumptions people make about the world and themselves and other people and life in general. These assumptions affect how people perceive the world and what they say and do; yet for the most part people are not aware of them and are disinclined to consider them critically. Finally, learning philosophical lessons allow people not to become trapped by stubbornness.

Philosophical lessons instill the value of open-mindedness and seeking solutions to problems that meet standards of coherence and reasonableness. References Moore, B. N. , & Bruder, K. (2002). Philosophy: The Power of Ideas (5th ed. ). Boston: McGraw-Hill Russo, M. , & Fair, G. (2000). What is Philosophy Anyway. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 17, 2006 from: http://www. molloy. edu/academic/philosophy/SOPHIA/what_is_philosophy_anyway. htm.


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