Week 5 Technology and Its Philosophical Implications

Week 5 Technology and Its Philosophical Implications -...

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Technology and Its Philosophical Implications Socrates and the Western Philosophical Tradition The Study of Knowledge: Epistemology The Study of Matter and the Mind: Metaphysics Socrates and the Western Philosophical Tradition Socrates (466?-399 BC), the first great moral philosopher of Western civilization, represents those philosophers who were most interested in the study of human nature . Born the son of a stonemason, Socrates was most interested in what today we would call psychology, or literally, “the study of the soul.” Socrates engaged in “dialogues” with his opponents to come to truth. When his enemies trumped up charges against him, that he was an atheist and corrupting the youth of the city, Socrates was convicted and condemned to death by drinking poisonous hemlock. Socrates was not the first philosopher, but he left an indelible mark on Western thought by his willingness to die for “the truth.” In The Apology , written by Plato shortly after the events themselves unfolded, Socrates notes: Many thanks indeed for your kindness, gentlemen, but I will obey the gods rather than you, and as long as I have breath in me, and remain able to do it, I will never cease being a philosopher and exhorting you, and showing what is in me to any one of you. ..For this is what God commands me, make no mistake, and I think there is no greater good for you in the city in any way than my service to God. All I do is to go about and try to persuade you, both young and old, not to care for your bodies or your monies first, but to care more exceedingly for the soul. While Socrates was interested in human nature, the first philosophers before him were cosmologists. These philosophers, called Milesians, came from Miletus, a city-state in Ionia. Thales, the first philosopher, said that the stuff of the universe was water. Anaximander claimed it was air; and Anaximenes, an “undetermined” element (in German, Urstoff) . Despite what seems to us as primitive findings, these were the beginnings of science. The Greeks, lacking a personal God of the Bible, turned to human reason to solve the mysteries of the cosmos. The Milesians also observed that all nature was governed by natural laws. This concept had a great influence on our understanding of the universe. The Roman philosopher Lucretius defended the view that all matter was composed of atoms, a view first advocated by Democritus. Philosophical speculation about the origins of the universe went hand in hand with scientific experimentation and mathematics. These early “philosophers” were actually what we today would call “scientists,” but gradually, the more scientific branches split off into their own fields, leaving philosophy as a field of speculation which could be applied to all fields (art, religion, politics, and science and technology). There were two attempts to combine the study of human nature with that of the cosmos. The first is represented by
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This note was uploaded on 12/01/2009 for the course HUMN 432 taught by Professor Moayed during the Spring '09 term at DeVry Cincinnati.

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Week 5 Technology and Its Philosophical Implications -...

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