7161694R-Nature of Philosophy

7161694R-Nature of Philosophy - Authors Last Name 1[Authors...

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Author’s Last Name 1 [Author’s Name] [Professor’s Name] [Course title] [Date] Nature of Philosophy In almost every university, in whatever countries universities are found, a subject called 'philosophy' is studied and taught. Almost every large library, almost every large bookshop has a section devoted to 'philosophy'. But what is this 'philosophy' that is taught and studied in universities? What is contained in books that are devoted to philosophical topics? It may already have been gathered that my concern here is with what is sometimes called 'academic' philosophy–the philosophy that is taught and studied in most universities and in some schools. When many people use the word 'philosophy' they do not use it in this sense. A businessman may talk about the philosophy of free enterprise; hairdressers may talk about the philosophy that underlies the way in which they style their customers' hair. What such people mean by 'philosophy' is roughly a general view of a subject; a view which in a way underlies what they do. Academic philosophy, too, involves general views. But it involves much more than these, and it is this 'much more' that earns it a place in institutions of higher education. Since my concern is with academic philosophy, I will henceforth drop the prefix 'academic' and speak simply of 'philosophy'. What, then, is philosophy? The word has a long history, and in order to understand how it is now used one needs to have some knowledge of how it, and words related to it, have been used. As the word has its roots in the language of the ancient Greeks, it will be worth our while to begin with them. Literally, the Greek word philosophia means 'love of' (philo-) 'knowledge' (sophia). But how did the Greeks view this
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Author’s Last Name 2 knowledge, this sophia? For many of them, what the philosopher sought was knowledge of almost any kind. For example, the Greek politician Solon once left Greece to travel and, as we should now say, 'broaden his mind'; he is described as 'philosophising'. A Greek statesman of a later generation, Pericles, is represented as saying that the entire citizen body of Athens was engaged in philosophising. But besides this broad sense of 'philosophy' there was also a narrower one, and in this sense relatively few people could be said to be philosophising. 1 Let us begin by asking just what, according to Socrates, the people whom he criticised did not know. Socrates did not question their ability to give correct answers to questions such as 'Is this action impious?', 'Is this man brave?', 'Is this the action of a temperate person?' His objection to them was that if they were asked, 'What reason have you for answering as you do? By virtue of what is this act impious, or this man brave, or that man temperate?', then they did not know the answer. But it was precisely knowledge of this kind that Socrates thought most important. Two generations later, Aristotle explained Socrates' aims by saying that he was looking for definitions; more recent philosophers might say that he was seeking the correct analysis of concepts. The notion of analysis will meet us again; it needs refinement if it is to be
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