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U4Notes - Unit 4 What do philosophers do The following...

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Unit 4 What do philosophers do? The following fields are the main branches of philosophy: Metaphysics – the study of reality/truth Epistemology – how do we know what we know? Ethics – how should one live? Political philosophy – what is the best system of government? Natural philosophy (what we today call science) – what is the world made of/how does the universe operate? The ancient Greeks were the first to ask most of these questions. Greek natural philosophy The ancient Greeks studied the universe around them. They were not the first scientists in Western civilization, but they were very advanced for their time The Greeks studied matter. What is matter? Matter is stuff, e.g. a chair, a pencil, or arm. Greek philosophers asked the simple question, what is matter made of? Even though they weren’t always right, they at least asked the question Thales, for example, argued that matter is fundamentally made of water Other Greek philosophers said that water is only one of the elements that make up the universe. Some claimed that the world was made up of four elements: air, water, fire and earth (dirt.) Democritus argued world is made of atoms Anaximander argued all life comes from the sea. He insisted that humans are related to fishes. He is often considered to be an early evolutionist Anaximander also realized that the earth must be round because of the type of shadow it casts on the moon during an eclipse (it’s a bit of a misconception that people living in the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat.) Pythagoras claimed the world is fundamentally mathematical – if you want to understand the world, you must understand math Galen, an influential Greek doctor, wrote a medical textbook that was used for most of the middle ages. Like his mentor Hippocrates, Galen attributed illness to natural causes, not the Gods. Strictly religious explanations do not suffice for the Greeks Greek ethics and political philosophy Sophists were at the center of political life in Greece. They were teachers who would train young students in practical skills like debate. They charged a fee and taught the children of wealthy families who wanted to get ahead in life. Many of their students would grow up to be rulers in Greece
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The great Greek philosopher Socrates disagreed with the sophists on many key issues, such as charging fees for teachings. Socrates never wrote any books. All we know about Socrates is what comes from his most famous student, Plato Some historians draw parallels between Socrates and Jesus because both men were great teachers who were first and foremost concerned with ethical issues. What we know about them comes from other sources, both were brought to trial, and both were put to death for their views Socrates and the sophists agreed that human happiness was the key, but the question was, how do you achieve human happiness?
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