5 Philosophy


Let’s move into this idea of philosophy.

Philosophy (from Greek: φιλοσοφία, philosophia, ‘love of wisdom’ is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation.

Classic philosophical questions include: “Is it possible to know anything?”, and if so, “Can we prove it?” Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: “Is there a best way to live?”, “Is it better to be just, even if one could get away with being unjust?”, ‘do humans have free will?’

Historically, philosophy encompassed all bodies of knowledge. From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, “natural philosophy” encompassed astronomy, medicine, and physics. For example, Newton’s 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy later became classified as a book of physics.

In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize. In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics. Other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective? Are there many scientific methods or just one? Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy?

Major subfields of academic philosophy include metaphysics, which is concerned with the fundamental nature of existence and reality; epistemology, which studies the nature of knowledge and belief; ethics, which is concerned with moral value; and logic, which studies the rules of inference that allow one to deduce conclusions from true premises. Other notable subfields include philosophy of science, political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy

Some of the questions that we’ll be thinking about are: (Jot down some of your thoughts as you read through these questions)

  • How do we know what we know?
  • What is changeable within ourselves?
  • How does what we know about the world shape the way we view ourselves?
  • How do our personal experiences shape our view of others?
  • What does it mean to be an insider or an outsider?
  • What does it mean to “grow up”?
  • Where do our definitions of good and evil come from?
  • What is the relevance of studying multicultural texts?
  • How does the media shape our view of the world and ourselves?
  • In a culture where we are bombarded with other people trying to define us, how do we make
  • decisions for ourselves?
  • What turning points determine our individual pathways to adulthood?
  • What is changeable within ourselves?

The speaker, Julina Baggini, philosopher and author of How the World Thinks Julian Baggini examines philosophical traditions around the globe to highlight the nuance in differences between concepts of self.

How the World Thinks | Lecture by philosopher Julian Baggini

Use these guiding questions as you listen to this lecture.

  • What are the three great ancient philosophies?
  • Why is only Western Philosophy in universities?
  • Where does the word “Philosophy” come from? (Greek = love of wisdom)
  • Would understanding the philosophical tradition of a culture help understand that culture?
  • What are the deadly sins of comparative philosophy?
  • What is one of the principle elements in Chinese philosophy that shows up in Chinese culture?
  • In contrast, what elements are in the foreground of western philosophy?

What makes you, you? Is it how you think of yourself, how others think of you, or something else entirely? Listen to Julian Baggini again as he draws from philosophy and neuroscience to give a surprising answer.

After some brainstorming and discussion, write some answers to these questions. You may want to do a little research as you write.

  • How do we form and shape our identities?
  • In a culture where we are bombarded with ideas and images of “what we should be,” how does one form an identity that remains true and authentic for her/himself?
  • What turning points determine our individual pathways to adulthood?
  • In a culture where we are bombarded with other people trying to define us, how do we make decisions for ourselves?

For further research on philosophy:

Julian Baggini | How Philosophy Helps Society


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