Lecture_1 (What is Philosophy)

Lecture_1 (What is Philosophy) - What is Philosophy I In...

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What is Philosophy? I. In attempting to understand the nature of philosophy it is perhaps best if we begin by pointing out a few common misconceptions. A. What philosophy is NOT: 1. Religion a. As we shall see, there are intimate connections between religion and philosophy. Both, for instance, include (perhaps fundamentally) a sense of “admiration.” b. There is one fundamental difference: In philosophy no idea is beyond question. For most religions, there are fundamental or foundational beliefs from which others are thought to follow. 2. New Age Mysticism or Spiritualism (and sometimes ”Metaphysics”) a. Pluralistic spiritual movement that combines beliefs in paranormal phenomena, various Eastern and Western religions, and motivational or self- help psychology. b. Self-proclaimed pluralism is problematic since it wholeheartedly endorses logical inconsistencies. 3. Mere Rhetoric or Persuasion a. The goal of philosophical argumentation is to convince other rational individuals by means of good reasons for some conclusion. Popular opinion or the opinion(s) of the majority is not enough. Truth is paramount, even if unpopular or a minority view. 4. Personal Opinion (as in “My philosophy of life is…”) a. Colloquial usage of term doesn’t capture the intersubjective, reflective character of philosophy. If your own view was the only one at stake, questioning wouldn’t arise. b. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.), among others, emphasized this: i. “Man is an animal whose nature it is to live in a polis (city).” ii. “He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.” II. A Speculative Beginning
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A. Jaspers: “Man becomes aware of Being as a whole, of himself and his limitations” 1. Disappointment and despair ensue. 2. Seemingly inevitable and certainly radical questions arise: a. Why are we so limited? b. To what extent are we limited? c. Can we escape or transcend such limitations? i. Note how this question unites the philosophy and religion. d. How can/should I best spend my (limited) time? 3. Collectively, such questions and the quest for answers are sometimes referred to as “the human condition.” a. A search for purpose or meaning, a sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, and the fear of death. III. Socrates (470-399 B.C.E.) and Socratic Dialogue A. Historical events leading up to: Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.E.) between Athens and its democratic allies and Sparta and its aristocratic allies. Although Greece had almost eliminated monarchy by 800 B.C.E., the many Greek city states were now ruled in the interest of either aristocrats ("the few") or democrats ("the many" or hoi poloi ). This class warfare arose when cash crops (wine and olive oil) led the Greeks away from
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Lecture_1 (What is Philosophy) - What is Philosophy I In...

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