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What is Philosophy Essay

Upon reading the opening chapter of Cahn’s, “Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology”, I was immediately drawn in by the opening statement from Beardsley and Beardsley: “The study of philosophy is unlike the study of any other subject…The only prerequisite is an inquiring mind” (Cahn, 3). For a science major, my first reaction is excitement, for there is no need to memorize “dates, formulas, or rules” (Chan, 3). As I continued reading however, I start to think to myself what I believe it means to take a philosophy course?

My definition of taking a philosophy course is I would be studying the ideas of one’s thoughts, beliefs, morals, religion, and any other “stereotypical” philosophical description. However, thanks to the definition provided, when broken down, “the word philosophy is of Greek origin and literally means, “the love of wisdom” (Cahn, 3). What does that even mean? Throughout the opening chapter, both authors try to dissect, analyze, and examine these ideas of ‘philosophy’ and ‘philosophical questions’ for readers, like myself, to gain a better understanding for exploring such a concept.

Still, how do I truly know that I have reached such an answer? There are three chief benefits that the authors provide, “that are to be derived from the study of philosophy”. The first being, “increased clearness in your own beliefs” (Chan 10). For me, I believe this statement to be saying that I must truly be sure that what I hold to be true – is in fact true to me. The second is, “increased assurance that your beliefs are reasonable” (Cahn, 10).

So to my understanding, now that I believe that such a fact is true, I must also make sure that it is reasonable. What does it mean for something to be reasonable? “’Reasonable’ has a broad, but definite, meaning here: a reasonable belief is simply a belief for which a good reason can be given. Reasonable beliefs are logically justifiable” (Cahn, 3). Okay, so if I put this in my own words, it means that this fact that I hold to be true, must also have some sort of good purpose for it to hold such meaning.

The third and last benefit is, “increased consistency” (Cahn, 11). Because there are so many questions one can ask that can force us to contradict most anything, this third belief to me is saying that, with consistency, there may be a possibility of coming to an actual answer or an agreement of such facts or ideas. Not sure if I cleared up what philosophy means to me, or if I confused myself more. Hopefully I do not confuse you either.

I wrote on this first reading, because it really captured my attention in that, sometimes we as humans do philosophical thinking and questioning though we may not always be aware of it. Whether we are questioning some sort of fact out loud, or internally – we are participating in “philosophical thinking” (Cahn, 7). Therefore, it is important to understand what this term ‘philosophy’ means. I am excited for this course to explore many ideas and to uncover/discover such conceptual thinking and ideas that I may not be aware of, through the readings and discussions we will be holding in class.


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