Good_&_Evil - Good & Evil PHIL-101 ETHICS Bobro...

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PHIL-101 ETHICS Bobro FIRST, A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PHILOSOPHY THALES of Miletus (now on the western coast of Turkey) is usually thought to be the first western philosopher. Now, there were many deep thinkers before Thales—the epic poet Homer (Iliad and Odyssey around 700 B.C.), the historian Hesiod (Theogony, also ~700), and the lyric poets Sappho, Alcaeus, and Anacreon, to name a few—so what makes him a philosopher and them not? The standard answer is that Thales did not invent stories, report myths, or create poems; he “evidently abandoned mythic formulations.” Thales engaged instead in rational thought or speech; he practiced in logos, to Good & Evil
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use the appropriate Greek term. What does this mean? Like philosophy, story, mythology, poetry, and religion also attempt to make sense of the world and our place in it. And we must not forget custom; it too offers socially acceptable ways of thinking and living. Philosophy is a different animal altogether however, since it naturally surfaces as a response to unrelenting (and often unrepentant) questioning. If we accept uncritically traditional stories about the world, accounts of divine revelation, the words of a prophet or oracle, a “Muse,” or cultural practices, there is no need to philosophize. Why question our beliefs if we are absolutely convinced that our beliefs are true? Why feel any need to justify our decisions with rational thought or logos if we have no doubt that our decisions are correct? And it is certainly tempting to take the “answers” given to us and live with them. The problem is with accepting such answers uncritically. Philosophers must present reasoned arguments for their views or against other views. In trying to show their theories to be true, philosophers don’t appeal to tradition, to divine revelation, or to custom. In order to defend their theories (which might perfectly coincide with a mythological or religious viewpoint or custom), they appeal to reason via an argument. What exactly is an argument? ARGUMENT: A set of statements (called premises) intended to support the truth of another statement (called a conclusion).
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A good argument is one in which the premises are both true and actually support the truth of the conclusion. A bad argument is one in which one or more of the premises are false and/or the premises do not support the truth of the conclusion. There are many philosophers who believe in God (and so agree with what’s asserted by many religions) but they will not appeal to the Bible, for instance, to justify this belief. As philosophers put it, such an argument begs the question. It is a bad argument. For how can we prove God’s existence by claiming that the Bible was written or inspired by God? It is no less controversial to claim that the Bible was written by God than it is to say that God exists. Indeed the truth of the conclusion is assumed by the premise. So rational thought, logos, is to be understood mainly in terms of reasoned argument. I would add that a
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Good_&_Evil - Good & Evil PHIL-101 ETHICS Bobro...

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