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Prelude to Philosophy: What is Philosophy? Essay

List 4 reasons students often presuppose a low view of philosophy. 1. The image that one has to be super intelligent to do philosophy. 2. As a discipline, most students study it late in their academic development. 3. Most people don’t think it’s practical.

4. Most students don’t know what philosophy is or how it can benefit them.

Know Socrates’ quote: What is the unexamined life? What did he mean when he said it wasn’t worth living? The quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates didn’t mean that people have no value, or should be executed if they lived unexamined lives. Humans are unique in the animal kingdom; we have the ability to reason and reflect about everything. What he meant was: To live the unexamined life is to live less than a fully human life; not living life the way we were created to live.

Know the etymology of the word “philosophy.”

The combination of two Greek terms: phileo and sopos. Phileo means “love”, sophos means “wisdom”.

Know the working definition of “philosophy” and explain each of its elements. Philosophy is the critical examination of our foundational beliefs concerning the nature of reality, knowledge, and truth, and our moral and social values.

List and explain each of the 6 characteristics under the description of philosophy. 1. The relationship between philosophy and facts: philosophers are generally more interested in what lies behind the facts, their meaning, significance and veracity, than in the facts themselves. 2. The importance of method in philosophical investigation: why someone believes something more so than what they believe. 3. clarification: clear thinking is imperative in finding truth. Two enemies to clear thinking is ambiguity and vagueness.

4. Philosophy examines and evaluates everything; nothing is taken for granted: Every belief and idea is open to critical examination. Clarification and justification are required before accepting any belief to be true. 5. Philosophy is usually concerned with foundational issues that have been perennial throughout the history of humankind. 6. Philosophy often appeals to systems of principles or guidelines regarded to be true: either reject new claim to be true or adjust system to adapt to the new claim. Philosophers build systems of beliefs and philosophical examination doesn’t begin from a neutral position.

Contrast and compare philosophy with religion, science, and art. How are they different and how are they similar? 1. Philosophy and Religion: (compared) Both search for the ultimate – that which has the ultimate meaning and value, the one thing that unifies everything and from which everything finds it’s meaning and origin. (contrasted) Religion usually appeals to some authoritative revelation to discover the truths about the ultimate; philosophy uses rational inquiry in attempting to understand the ultimate. A spiritual aspect normally isn’t found in philosophy. 2. Philosophy and Science: (compared) Both try to understand reality in a methodical fashion. They both use observation and appeal to evidence to support their conclusions.

They both derive criteria, hypotheses, and theories that they apply to specific situations to discover the truth about reality. (contrasted) Science generally examines that part of reality associated with the senses, the physical world, philosophies field extends outside of physical reality to what lies beyond. Also, science deals with first-order questions about reality, philosophy deals with second-order questions about disciplines like science. 3. Philosophy and Art: (compared) artists often use their medium to express philosophical ideas, they both also often deal with similar topics, and artists capture what some modern philosophers promote. (contrasted) Art usually only coveys a particular philosophical view, whereas philosophy seeks the rational justification of a view. Philosophy argues for a view, art expresses it. Art is concerned mostly with structure, philosophy is concerned mostly with content.

Explain the value of experiential knowledge in distinction to propositional knowledge. Experiential knowledge enhances our understanding beyond what propositional knowledge can convey.

Philosophy: Examining life; love of wisdom.

Unexamine Life: Going through daily/routine activities/life, without thinking about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it; going through the motions of life without making the effort to reflect and think about what life is about.

Normative Claim: Makes a claim about some actions persons ought to do. Socrates’ “unexamined life” claim was a normative claim. Wisdom: Wisdom has less to do with how much one knows and more to do with how one uses the knowledge they have. Wisdom is knowledge applied; using the knowledge one has in a way that benefits life.

Critical Examination: To analyze.

Clarification: To determine what something means.

Justification: Addresses the questions: Is this true, and are there good reasons to believe it’s true?

Evaluation: Determines the significance or value of the idea.

Presuppositions: Beliefs people usually don’t think about or try to prove. They are assumptions people hold about themselves and the world, without knowing which they would not be able to arrive at any other knowledge.

Foundational Beliefs: Central and fundamental beliefs, the core of all other beliefs.

First-Order Discipline: A field that directly studies reality.

Second-Order Discipline: A field that studies the methods and presuppositions of first-order disciplines. It’s not interested in the conclusion but the means used to arrive at the conclusion and the presuppositions held while attempting to answer the question.

Ambiguous: When there is more than one possible meaning.

Vague: When the meaning is not clear.

Worldview: A comprehensive system of beliefs that functions, first as an explanation and interpretation of the world and, second as an application of that system to the way people live and the values they hold.

Scientism: The notion that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge there is.

Propositional Knowledge: Consists of beliefs that can be formulated and conveyed in propositions.

Experiential Knowledge: Knowledge gained through experiencing something.

Rational Animal: Humans.

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