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Philosophy = love of wisdom ?

It is frequently noted (especially around here) that the original meaning of philosophy is philos sophia, love of wisdom, and that this definition greatly informed how the Greeks practiced the discipline in its earliest days. Therefore, it is sometimes claimed that philosophy today is defined by love of wisdom and must pursue similar goals and proceed by similar means as it did in its earliest days. This limited assessment of the purpose of philosophy appears to be completely erroneous. To insist that the modern practice of philosophy is exclusively defined by its historical meaning is a form of genetic fallacy (a misleading reference to origins); specifically the etymological fallacy (the assumption that a words meaning can be discerned from its etymology or origins). A words meaning is determined by its current usage, not its historical origin. For example, meat no longer refers to food in general, and hobby horse is no longer a euphemism for mistress. Similarly, the meaning of the term philosophy and the discipline itself are not circumscribed by what it meant or how it was practiced in the fourth century B.C.E. Greece. Consider a similar case: Imagine if someone were to use Aristotles understanding of logic (with its heavy focus on his central theory of the syllogism) as its current definition. Surely any contemporary logician would instantly point out the extent to which Frege and the advent of modern formal logic changed the field? The boundaries and methods of logic as Aristotle understood themlong held as authoritativedo not determine the field today, no matter how significant a contribution he made. That the term logic has its origins in a Greek word does not restrict its meaning today.

No philosopher would deny the profound importance of Greek philosophy, nor the value in reading their works, but that doesnt mean the boundaries and methods of the discipline were set in stone two-and-ahalf millenia ago. Many have in fact changed considerably since its inception, although its general concerns remain . Love of wisdom is certainly a commendable principle, but not a working definition for the contemporary specialty. As for the famously difficult task of offering a definition of philosophy, it is usually given as something like the systematic use of rational enquiry and critical reflection, guided/supported/characterised by logical argument. I personally like Anthony Flews comment that it is thinking about thinking, and this outline given by my old philosophy department. To quote a little of it: [Philosophy continues] the tradition of critical discussion that originated with the ancient Greeks. Philosophers aim to reject dogmatic, authoritarian or purely rhetorical approaches to philosophical questions, and seek instead to proceed by means of arguments that can be critically assessed. We value lively critical conversation, where people with different views engage respectfully with one another in a common effort to advance their understanding. Of course, to continue the tradition of critical discussion that originated with the ancient Greeks does not imply we must slavishly uphold everything the Greeks representedthe mode of thought they inaugurated is in many ways more important that the specific doctrines they argued for. Any current definition of philosophy has to encompass how philosophyparticularly academic philosophyis practiced today, taking into account its many sub-categories and diverse interactions with

other disciplines, rather than the narrow and misleading assessment: The Greeks defined philosophy as X, therefore philosophy is, forevermore, X. The etymological definition of a "philosopher" is "lover of wisdom." Therefore, a philosopher is someone who ultimately values wisdom, in other words, someone who seeks it. The ancient Greek philosophers used the word 'sophia' in different ways. For example, originally, Homer used it in connection with craftsmanship, but Aristotle later used it to refer to the highest intellectual virtue (as opposed to phronesis or practical wisdom).

Managers often look askance at philosophy as though it were a "frill" and not an essential. They feel, perhaps, that results oriented people are pragmatic, not philosophical. Unfortunately, no organization can reach right results without a clear definition of its own summum bonum, (life's greatest good). This process is important, not only to the field of human services, but to the process by which people with problems in living seek coherence. Etymological, philosophy means "loving wisdom". When technically defined, it is the critical evaluation of all the facts of an experience. Critical would include the rejection of bias or prejudice and evaluation would include valuation. To have value is etymological to be "strong" or "effective", and hence have "worth". In this context, philosophy differs from science in that it attempts to determine without bias the "worth" of every variable in the experience, whereas the scientist merely seeks to describe selected facts of the experience which lie within his or her special field. The placement of value or worth requires a criteria used to distinguish truth from error. "A criteria of truth is a standard, or rule, by which to judge the accuracy of statements and opinions; thus, it is a standard of verification" [Sahakian & Sahakian, 1993]. This process is important, not only to the field of human services, but to the process by which people with problems in living seek coherence. The individual must decide upon the criteria which can enable him or her to distinguish what is true from what is not true. It

should be obvious to most readers that not all criteria have equal validity for this process. Philosophers have used a wide range of criteria including custom, tradition, time, feelings (emotion), instinct, hunch, intuition, revelation, majority rule, consensus, correspondence, authority, utility, consistency and coherence. The process includes not only criteria of validity, but the avoidance of material fallacies of reasoning. Such erroneous ways of reasoning about facts are "numerous, deceptive and elusive - so elusive that a person untrained in detecting them can easily be misled into accepting them as valid" [Sahakian & Sahakian, 1993. The ability to reason without committing error is an obvious asset. Philosophers list such material fallacies in classifications such as 1) linguistic fallacies, or those which involve the abuse or misuse of language; 2) fallacies of irrelevant evidence, or arguments which miss the central point at issue and rely principally upon emotions, feelings, ignorance, etc., to defend a position; 3) miscellaneous fallacies which belong to a number of other classifications but which do not readily lend themselves to further subdivision. Some examples of such fallacies are dicto simpliciter, or the attempt to apply a general rule to special cases where are exceptions to the rule. To make universal statements about matters to which the rule does not always apply. The paradoxical cliche "All generalizations are wrong; including this one" is advice against such fallacies and their converse variants. False cause or post hoc fallacies consist of reasoning from mere sequence to consequence. That is from mere sequence an assumption of causal connection is made. The fact that A precedes B, does not necessarily make A the cause of B. Compound questions, also known as "poisoning the well", is an error which consists of combining several questions in such a manner as to preclude all opposing arguments, thus placing one's opponent in a self-incriminating position. "Do you still beat your wife" is the quisessential example.

Petitio Principii, or begging the question is comprised of circular reasoning such as when in order to prove that A is true, B is used as proof, but since B requires support, C is used in defense of B, but C also requires proof and is substianted by A, the proposition which was to be proved in the first place. Such examples are not inclusive, but should indicate to the reader that such fallacies are reasonably common. In fact, a list of cognitive errors expounded by a cognitive scientist would not appear much different. Such cognitive errors lead to problems in living when they are applied to the problem of truth about oneself, other people and future prospects for it is difficult to avoid projection of one's philosophical position into any definition of truth. Since all persons have a philosophy of life, whether they have consciously considered it or not, this philosophy impedes their ability to define truth, unless they are very aware of material fallacies. A philosophy is vital to the development of coherence. If we seek truth in the delivery of human services, it requires a criteria of validity and a process which avoids error. "True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify. False ideas are those we cannot. Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events"according to the Pragmatists. It is assumed that human beings can therefore obtain only partial knowledge based upon partial experience, which differs from what others obtain. Knowledge, at best, then is opinion, a subjective truth. Since truth is opinion, what is true for you is true only for you. [Sahakian & Sahakian, 1993] Seeking coherence for in the human service system, therefore requires the development of a "common truth" or common cause. Human services cannot be effectively provided with different perspectives of truth each vying for prominence. The collective discovery of the summun bonum, (life's greatest good) cannot be determined without a discussion of philosophy. "The right act can readily be known once the greatest good has been determined, for it becomes simply that act which enhances the realization of the greatest good, and the immoral act is that mode of behavior which is a deterrent to its realization" [Sahakian & Sahakian, 1993]. Ethics

embodies two areas, namely right action and life's greatest good. Without a clear system definition of life's greatest good, one is unable to determine "right action". If in the service of human beings, we cannot agree upon or determine right actions; we enter into the realm of morality. The relationship between ethics and morals is like that between theory and practice, since the former denotes the theory of right conduct and the good life, whereas the latter refers to the actual practice of right conduct and the good life. The term moral has a dual meaning: the first has to do with the ability of a person to understand morality as well as his capacity to make moral decisions; the second has to do with the actual performance of moral acts. Using the term moral in the former sense, we may contrast it with amoral, which refers to a being incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Using the term moral in the latter sense, we may contrast it to immoral, which refers to actions which transgress moral principles. [Sahakian & Sahakian, 1993] In distinguishing between personal ethics signifying the moral code applicable to individual persons, and social ethics, referring to the moral code of groups, we identify the latter as concerned with the development of social policy and the former with the implementation of this social policy in a manner which not only does things right, but does the right things. Seeking coherence as an individual is to examine closely the criteria of validity. This will require an awareness of ones own beliefs, prejudices and intents. As Socrates said "the unexamined life is not worth living". To know oneself, that is to know oneself completely, one's conscious and unconscious self, makes for power, self-control and success. Individuals encounter difficulty only because they do not truly know themselves - their natures, limitation, abilities, motives, the entire gamut of their personalities. They need a psychological mirror enabling each person to see his spiritual self as it really is, including all its shortcomings, strengths and potentialities. [Sahakian & Sahakian, 1993]

For people with problems in living, this psychological mirror is the helper. The examination of life's greatest good, right action, ethics and morality of social policy and social action is considered a prerequisite for human service delivery. To do otherwise is to create the opportunity for material and moral error. For human service agencies, the requirements of philosophy are prerequisite to the development of a coherent learning organization. Without a defining summun bonum, there is not ability to measure right action and without right action, there is no coherence.

1. DEFINITION OF PHILOSOPHY
o o

ETYMOLOGICAL REAL 2. ETYMOLOGICAL DEFINITION The term PHILOSOPHY came from two Greek words: LOVE

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WISDOM KNOWLEDGE

Love of wisdom or knowledge. Greek Philosopher - PLATO coined the word PHILOSOPHIA or PHILOSOPHY PHILOS SOPHIA 3. REAL DEFINITION Traditionally the science of all things or beings in their ultimate causes and principles known by human reason alone 4. REAL DEFINITION It is a science because it is a body of knowledge derived from reasoned demonstration of causes and reduced to a system. It is the science of all things or beings because it studies all things or realities which can be reached by the human mind. It is the science of all things or beings in their ultimate causes and principles because it studies and tries to understand the underlying reasons and causes of things. It is the science of all things or being in their ultimate causes and principles

known by human reason alone because it based its knowledge solely on mans reasoning power and not on authority or faith. 5. BENEFITS FROM STUDYING PHILOSOPHY enables us to systematize all important knowledge in the domain of reason guides us in distinguishing truth from error and in searching for the truth provides us with the ability to analyze and the intellectual eye to see things not only as they are, but also the underlying causes and meaning of things around us or happen around us. 6. guides us in our search for the cause and meaning of our life and our existence BENEFITS FROM STUDYING PHILOSOPHY gives us insights about our nature as human beings, it helps us understand better ourselves, and help develop or improve ourselves 7. DIVISION OF HUMAN SCIENCES SPECULATIVE SCIENCE PRACTICAL SCIENCE PRODUCTIVE SCIENCE 8. SPECULATIVE SCIENCE The science that seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It is the science that is concerned with things that are theoretical. >> Logic >> Epistemology >> Metaphysics >> Theodicy >> Cosmology >> Psychology The sciences that fall under this category are: 9. PRACTICAL SCIENCE The science that seeks knowledge for the sake of proper conduct of human life. It is the science that is concerned with the practical application of knowledge to mans life and conduct. The sciences falling under this category are: >> Ethics >> Politics >> Aesthetics 10. PRODUCTIVE SCIENCE The science that seeks knowledge for

the sake of producing and providing for the human needs. It is concerned with technical and mechanical skills, for example: >> Engineering >> Architecture >> Advertising >> Agriculture 11. BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY LOGIC the art & science of correct

inferential thinking COSMOLOGY OR PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE the

science of the nature of the world RATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY the science of the nature of man, his powers, acts and habits EPISTEMOLOGY OR CRITICS OR CRITERIOLOGY the science of the validity of human knowledge ONTOLOGY OR GENERAL METAPHYSICS the science of beings in their general forms 12. BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY ETHICS OR MORAL PHILOSOPHY

the study of the morality of human acts THEODICY OR SPECIAL METAPHYSICS the philosophical study of the nature and attributes of God AESTHETICS the science of arts and beauty SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY the science of the sociality of man and nature of society 13. LOGIC enables us to think in a rational, systematic and orderly

way ETYMOLOGICAL DEFINITION logike Greek term means thought A treatise pertaining to thought. 14. LOGIC ETYMOLOGICAL DEFINITION Zeno the Stoic Aristotle the

tool or instrument of the science s LOGIC ORGANON first coined the word Logic is the instrument for gaining knowledge or the tool for correct thinking. book - ANALYTICS 15. LOGIC REAL DEFINITION commonly defined as the art &

science of correct inferential thinking deals with the laws, methods and principles of correct thinking Irving Copi describes Logic as the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning. >> Thus it provides us with the techniques for testing the correctness (and also the incorrectness) of arguments. 16. LOGIC REAL DEFINITION as a SCIENCE . . . It is a systematized

body of knowledge about the principles and laws of correct inferential thinking. It follows certain rules and laws in arriving at valid conclusions. 17. as an ART . . . The art of reasoning. It requires mastery of the

laws and principles of correct inferential thinking. LOGIC REAL

DEFINITION Through Logic, we acquire the techniques and skill of thinking correctly whereby our mind is able to proceed with order, ease and without error, when we master the techniques and acquire the skill of correct thinking then we are able to expound our thought orderly, clearly and systematically. Fritz Asuro + FOLLOW 2274 views, 0 favs, 2 embeds

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Meaning of Philosophy

Let us attempt to define philosophy adequately. Philosophy is sometimes approached or defined at different points of view, which are supplementary rather than contradictory. We might like to get two things straight at the start.
Firstly, philosophy isnt a subject its an activity. Consequently one doesnt study it: one does it. This is how philosophers, at least those in the Anglo-Saxon tradition (which for some obscure historical reason seems to include the Finns), tend to put it. And secondly, philosophy is largely a matter of conceptual analysis or thinking about thinking.[1]

It is important to know first what the meaning of definition is. We must study the terms that we are using, to be clear at the start. The term definition is derived from the Latin word de-fenire meaning to state to limits of or to enclose within limits.[2] Now as we start giving definition of philosophy, let us remember that we are limiting the meaning of philosophy. The definition of philosophy may be nominal or real. . In nominal, it may be either etymological or vernacular. While in real, it may either be intrinsic or extrinsic. What is the etymological definition of philosophy? But first what is etymological definition? Etymological definition limits a thing by taking its derivation. We mean that we get the meaning of a word from its root.
Etymologically, philosophy is derived from the two Greek words philein meaning love or friendship and sophia meaning wisdom.[3]

When we combine the derived meaning of Philosophy, we will come up to the meaning of philosophy as love of wisdom. This

meaning is an understanding of the philosophy given to us by the ancient Greek philosophers and until now we accept and use this definition. Literally, Philosophy means love of wisdom. But what is love and what is wisdom? Love is basically a drive towards a particular thing. And wisdom means an application of knowledge. Thus wisdom cannot be dissociated with knowledge. The Chinese also gave a definition to philosophy which stands so close to the ancient Greeks definition of philosophy as love of wisdom. The Chinese, however, define philosophy as Zhe-Xue or Che Shueh (this is
originally coined by Dr. Nishi Amane).The Chinese understands Zhe-Xue or philosophy as the study of wisdom.[4]

The Chinese characters, Zhe and Xue, suggest the inseparability of the words and actions. Thus, for the Chinese, philosophy is the translation of the words into action or the application of the theory into practice. Hence, for the Chinese, philosophy singles out a person to live on what he says. If the Greeks and the Chinese have their own definitions of Philosophy, the Hindus, too, have something they call their own. Philosophy is Darsana. Darsana means seeing, seeing not only through the
eyes, but through the whole being of the one that sees. In other words, Philosophy for the Hindus means seeing the whole of the reality through a total advertence and involvement of the looker.[5]

This kind of definition shows up our preconception, biases, and prejudices of a certain reality since all these are partial treatment of any phenomenon or any reality. What is then the vernacular definition of philosophy? Vernacular

definition limits a term by taking into account its exclusive meaning.


Now, consider the vernacular definition of philosophy. That which limits philosophy exclusively compared to other sciences is its ultimate foundation: reason. Of all sciences, philosophy prides itself in being the only science that investigates all things in their ultimate causes, reasons, and principles through reason alone.[6]

This means that the philosophy does not employ faith or experiments done in laboratories. But it does not mean that philosophy is not present in theology or a science. Since philosophy is the application of theory to practice which presupposes the total attention of the viewer. A misconception is that philosophy is something like theology. Philosophy is concerned with the undermining and questioning of dogmas whereas theology is about accepting and supporting them. To explain further the connection of theology and philosophy, Theology needs philosophy that is why philosophy is the handmaid of theology. The only difference between them is that philosophy only uses reason while theology depends on faith and reason. We can say that the end of philosophy is the beginning of theology. What is the essential definition of philosophy? To understand it let us give the meaning of intrinsic definition. Essential definition limits a thing according to its kind. Philosophy as a science [Generic (genus)-Essential-Intrinsic-Real definition], it investigates and presents evidences that are systematically-arranged and complete body of knowledge or truth.[7] Philosophy and science have much in common. Both grow out of

reflective, inquiring attitude and are prompted by an impartial love of truth. Philosophy investigates not superficial or cursory but deep, critical and impartial. To simplify it, philosophy goes beyond any common sense or current set of assumption and fact. So, we can notice why philosophers must not be contended on such particular answer. A great example is Socrates who is never contended of current assumptions. The definition of philosophy according to its real definition will help us now justify that philosophy as a science that investigates all things in their ultimate causes, reasons, and principles through human reason alone. Let us also consider the definition of philosophy given to us by various writers and philosophers. Let us start with the definition of W.P. Montague, the author of the book, Great Visions of Philosophy.
Philosophy is the attempt to give a reasoned conception of the universe and of mans place in it.[8]

In the definition given to us by Montague, we can see that it gives us a specific definition. He tries to define philosophy in one of its branches, Cosmology or Philosophy of nature which is most concerned about the cosmos or the universe and all in it. J.A. Leighton gave a similar definition of philosophy. Like Montague, but he further explained it and gave much wider range. While E.S. Ames concept is much about life and connected philosophy with science.
J.A. Leighton says that a complete philosophy includes a world-view, or reasoned conception of the whole cosmos, and a life-view, or doctrine of the values, meaning, and purposes of human life. E.S. Ames defines it as the endeavour to achieve a comprehensive view of life and its meaning, upon the

basis of the results of the various sciences.[9] Philosophy is, I think, most appropriately to be conceived as a clearing house to which the result of all other human inquiries is brought and in which the records of all forms of human experience are sifted, assessed and evaluated.[10]

From the definition at the top, we can say that philosophy may be described as a study which is without restrictions upon its subjectmatter. We may compare it to court where cases are examined and evaluated. It is unlike other Human inquiries that have their own restriction like Botany that only concerns with plants. Most of the definitions emphasize the use of methods of reflective thinking. They state or imply that the aim is to gain unity and to see life as a whole. There might be lots of definition of philosophy but we must remember that every definition is not contradictory to the other but a support. It will all lead us that philosophy is all about truth.

by Swami Krishnananda
Philosophy is not a theory but a vision of life (Darsana). It is not merely 'love of wisdom' but signifies a real 'possession' of it. The philosophers are therefore not professors, academicians or doctrinaires, or even spectators, but true participants of life in its real meaning and relationship. To be a philosopher, thus, implies more substance than what is often taken to be its value in life. A philosopher is not concerned with human beings alone: his concern is with all creation, the universe in its completeness. His thought has to reflect the total import of existence in its togetherness. A philosopher's task calls for a great strength of will and clarity of understanding, side by side with an exalted moral consciousness. The usual prerequisites for a student of philosophy have been stated to be (1) Vivekaor discrimination of reality as distinguished from appearance; (2) Vairagya or disinterest in those

appearances which are divested of reality; (3) Sama or tranquillity of mind, (4) Dama or self-restraint, meaning control over the clamours of sense; (5) Uparati, or freedom from the distractions characteristic of selfish activity; (6) Titiksha or power of fortitude in the midst of the vicissitudes of life, (7) Sraddha or faith and conviction in the meaningfulness of the pursuit of philosophy; (8) Samadhana or ability to concentrate the mind on the subject of study; and (9) Mumukshutva or a sincere longing to attain the practical realisation of the Absolute. Without the equipment of these necessary qualifications, a student under the scheme of philosophy will be a failure and cannot get at either its method or its purpose. Though the discipline needed is arduous indeed and no one, ordinarily, can be expected to be full with it to perfection, it has to be accepted that it is an inviolable condition of the pursuit of philosophy, at least in an appreciable measure. Else, philosophy would only shed as much light to the student as the sun to the blind. Philosophy has often been identified with a life of contemplation, without action. That this is a misrepresentation based on ignorance would become obvious from the nature of philosophic wisdom, as has been stated above. Though wisdom is a state of consciousness and implies concentration and meditation, it does so not in any exclusive sense, for philosophic wisdom is allinclusive. It synthesises the different sides of the psychological nature, e.g., the knowing, willing, feeling and active. Any lopsided emphasis is contrary to the requirements of a wisdom of life. The teaching of the Bhagavadgita, a monumental embodiment of the gospel of the philosophic life, is a standing refutation of the notion that philosophical knowledge is tantamount to actionlessness. A philosopher, in his heightened understanding, has also the power of sublime feeling and action for a universal cause. Philosophy is not also opposed to religion; on the other hand it is the lamp which illumines the corners of religion both within and

without. Philosophy supplies the raison d'tre of religious practices, even of ritual, image and symbol. If religion is the body, philosophy is the life in it. Philosophy ennobles religion, sublimates art and stabilises the sciences, such as sociology, ethics and politics. It was the hope of Plato that the philosopher and the ruler be found in the same person, if the world is to have peace. Philosophy is also the remedy for the illnesses which psychoanalysis has been immaturely attempting to trace back to a supposed irrationality of behaviour. Philosophy discovers the rationality behind the so-called irrational urges. In India, philosophy as Darsana has always been associated with practice orSadhana. What goes by the name of Yoga is the implementation of philosophy in practical life, with reference to the psychological functions predominating in an individual. Philosophy has therefore relation to one'sbeing more than to one's intellectual grasping of outer situations. The philosophic truth is neither the inner nor the outer merely, for it is the whole.The cosmic gets mirrored in the consciousness of the philosopher who lives it more than anything else. Philosophy is different from any kind of extreme, whether in thinking or living. The golden mean is its rule, which excludes nothing, but includes everything by way of transformation to suit the constitution of the whole which is its aim. To arrive at this finale of knowledge, it considers the cases of perception, inference and intuition; observation, implication and the testimony of experience. It neither denies nor affirms peremptorily. Philosophy is, thus, necessary for every stage and kind of life to make it a joy. There is no satisfaction where there is no meaning. Philosophy is the discovery of the meaning behind life. Philosophy is impartial judgment without prejudice, underestimation or overestimation. It recognises the values accepted in the different fields of knowledge and iterated in the various viewpoints of observation and logic in order to construct

an edifice of integral envisagement. From this it follows that philosophy does not take sides, has a place for every standpoint of thinking in its proper perspective, and its function is to so fit everything into its broad scheme that nothing is either ignored or made to strike a dissonant note in the harmony of its development. Its position is that of the chief judge in the government of the universe. It listens, understands, sifts, weighs and considers the status of any given circumstance not from the standpoint of the circumstance in its isolatedness but in its relation to the whole of existence. No one can, therefore, afford to turn away from the divine gift called 'philosophy'.
The Nature of Philosophy

The word philosophy literally means love of wisdom;1 this tells us something about the nature of philosophy, but not much, because many disciplines seek wisdom. How does philosophy differ from these other disciplines? A brief look at the historical development of the field will help us to answer this question. On the standard way of telling the story, humanity's first systematic inquiries took place within a mythological or religious framework: wisdom ultimately was to be derived from sacred traditions and from individuals thought to possess privileged access to a supernatural realm, whose own access to wisdom, in turn, generally was not questioned. However, starting in the sixth century BCE, there appeared in ancient Greece a series of thinkers whose inquiries were comparatively secular (see "The Milesians and the Origin of Philosophy").2 Presumably, these thinkers conducted their inquiries through reason and observation, rather than through tradition or revelation. These thinkers were the first philosophers. Although this picture is admittedly simplistic, the basic distinction has stuck: philosophy in its most primeval form is considered nothing less than secular inquiry itself.3 However, there are now many forms of secular inquiry, so what distinguishes philosophy from them? In the beginning, there was perhaps no distinction. But, as civilization advanced, two parts of philosophy became so powerful in their own right that they separated off, claiming for themselves the status of independent disciplines. Mathematics was the first, and split off very early in the game; science (or natural philosophy, as it was called even into the nineteenth century) was the second, splitting off much later. To modern philosophy is left whatever questions these two disciplines cannot solve (at least at a given time), including not only questions that are traditionally thought to be beyond the two (e.g. "What is the meaning of life?"), but also theoretical questions at their fringes (e.g. "Can natural selection operate at the species level?") and conceptual questions at their foundations (e.g. "What is science?"). Philosophy, of course, is best known for the first class of questions, which includes some of the most difficult and important questions there are, such as whether or not there is a god, how one can know anything at all, and how a person ought to live. Philosophy is characterized as much by its methods as by its subject matter. Although philosophers deal with speculative issues that generally are not subject to

investigation through experimental test, and philosophy therefore is more fully conceptual than science, philosophy properly done is not mere speculation. Philosophers, just like scientists, formulate hypotheses which ultimately must answer to reason and evidence.4 This is one of the things that differentiates philosophy from poetry and mysticism, despite its not being a science.5
The Branches of Philosophy

The four main branches of philosophy are logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics: Logic is the attempt to codify the rules of rational thought. Logicians explore the structure of arguments that preserve truth or allow the optimal extraction of knowledge from evidence. Logic is one of the primary tools philosophers use in their inquiries; the precision of logic helps them to cope with the subtlety of philosophical problems and the often misleading nature of conversational language. Epistemology is the study of knowledge itself. Epistemologists ask, for instance, what criteria must be satisfied for something we believe to count as something we know, and even what it means for a proposition to be true. Metaphysics is the study of the nature of things. Metaphysicians ask what kinds of things exist, and what they are like. They reason about such things as whether or not people have free will, in what sense abstract objects can be said to exist, and how it is that brains are able to generate minds. Ethics is the study of the nature of right and wrong and good and evil, in terms both of considerations about the foundations of morality, and of practical considerations about the fine details of moral conduct. Moral philosophers may investigate questions as sweeping as whether there are such things moral facts at all, or as focused as whether or not the law ought to accord to rape victims the right to an abortion. Many professional philosophers also double as historians, researching one or another aspect of the history of philosophical thought. Even those who do not conduct novel historical research typically see great value in the texts of thinkers as far back as the ancient Greeks, and study these texts both for philosophical insight and enjoyment. Arguably, history of philosophy may be considered a fifth branch of philosophy.6 As you can tell, the different branches of philosophy overlap one another. A philosopher considering whether people ought to give excess wealth to the poor is asking an ethical question. However, his investigations might lead him to wonder whether or not standards of right and wrong are built into the fabric of the universe, which is a metaphysical question. If he claims that people are justified in taking a particular stance on that question, he is making at least a tacit epistemological claim. At every step in his reasoning, he will want to employ logic to minimize the chance of being led into error by the great complexity and obscurity of the questions. He may very well look to some of the ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological writings of past philosophers to see how his brightest predecessors reasoned about the matter. Aspects of each branch of philosophy can be studied in isolation, but philosophical questions have a way of leading to other philosophical questions, to the point that a full investigation of any particular problem is likely eventually to involve almost the whole of the philosophical enterprise.
The Demands of Philosophy

Philosophical inquiry is very demanding, suitable only for those who possess a fair degree of courage, humility, patience and discipline. Doing philosophy requires courage, because one never knows what one will find at the end of a philosophical investigation. Since philosophy deals with the most fundamental and important issues of human existence, and since these are things that most people initially take for granted, genuine philosophical inquiry has great potential to unsettle or even to destroy one's deepest and most cherished beliefs. Genuine philosophical inquiry also carries the risk of isolation among one's peers, both for the unorthodox views to which it may lead one, and for the simple unpopularity of critical thinking. A philosopher must be able to face both consequences. Doing philosophy requires humility, because to do philosophy one must always keep firmly in mind how little one knows and how easy it is to fall into error. The very initiation of philosophical inquiry requires one to admit to oneself that one may not, after all, have all of the answers. Doing philosophy requires both patience and discipline, because philosophical inquiry requires long hours of hard work. One must be prepared to commit huge amounts of time to laboring over issues both difficult and subtle. People who avoid philosophy often complain that thinking about philosophical questions makes their heads hurt. This is unavoidable: if the answers come easily to you, your inquiries are almost certainly superficial. To do philosophy, one must commit oneself to pain. The only difference between one who chooses to shoulder the pain and one who does not is that the former recognizes that there is no shortcut to truth: every advance must be fought for tooth and nail. These virtues are always imperfectly represented in any given person, which is why philosophy is best done in a community: the critical scrutiny of other thinkers provides an often necessary check on defects invisible to one's own eyes.
The Rewards of Philosophy

But if philosophy is so demanding, why should anyone even bother with it? In the first place, there is great utility in philosophical inquiry, even for someone who does not innately care about the pursuit of truth. Consider a random handful of classic philosophical questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of justice? What does it take for a belief to be justified? Is the world we see illusion or reality? The answers to such questions cannot help but to have a critical impact on how one ought to live one's life. Surely one should subject one's intuitive beliefs about these things to critical scrutiny, and work hard to come as close to truth as possible. Many philosophical questions are fundamental to human life; the only reason it often does not seem that way is that people simply assume they know what the answers to these questions are, without ever daring to make a serious inquiry. This leads us to the second reason why one ought to do philosophy: to understand is ennobling. To go through life simply assuming one understands, is not. To be sure, one can perhaps be happy, at least in the same way as a well-fed dog is happy, if one manages to make it all the way through life without questioning anything. Philosophical inquiry, on the other hand, can be disquieting, offering no guarantee that your hard work will yield the conclusions you hope for. Even worse, philosophy gives you no guarantee that your investigations will yield any conclusion at all: at the end of the day, you may find yourself not only minus the certainties with which you began, but also with nothing else to put in their place. If you do

philosophy, you may well have to learn to live with perpetual uncertainty, while others, in their ignorance, happily profess perfect knowledge of things they do not understand at all. But it is clear who has the better life: far better to understand, even if the main thing you understand is the limit of your own knowledge. And a final reason for studying philosophy is that, for all of the pains and difficulties associated with it, the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge is enjoyable. To be sure, it is a refined enjoyment, and it is often hard to see from the outside what the appeal is. But once you become immersed in it, it carries its own immediate rewards, and it is difficult to resist becoming addicted to it. I have experienced most of the same pleasures everyone else has,7 but in the end, none of them hold a candle to the pleasures of the mind: the sheer pleasure of studying and investigating, and sometimes even understanding.
N ot es

From the Greek philia (friendship/love) or philos (friend/lover) and sophia (wisdom). According to the admittedly unreliable Diogenes Laertius (Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, I.VIII), the term philosopher was introduced by Pythagoras, who preferred it to the less modest title of sophist, or "wise man." 2 This cannot literally be true; it is scarcely possible that human thought could have been so uniformeven broadly speakingat any time in history. However, we have no formal record of this kind of thought prior to the "official" advent of philosophy. 3 To say that philosophy is secular does not mean that it is anti-religious, but only that it is independent of religion. If one needed to be anti-religious or even nonreligious to do philosophy, the history of philosophy would be very slim. To say that philosophy is secular is also not to deny that there are many thinkers, arguably including most of the first philosophers themselves, for whom it is not always clear whether they are doing philosophy or theology: philosophy, like any other discipline, has gray boundaries. 4 In saying this, am I ruling out Continental philosophy by stipulation? I don't think so, at least not across the board. To be sure, Continental philosophers do not write like analytic philosophers, and I consider that a vice, but I am not sure that their rock-bottom commitments really are that different. The phenomenologists and existentialists I am familiar with seem to base their thought upon rational and evidential grounds as much as anyone else; even with postmodernists, I am not sure that the open disdain for reason and evidence is more than just talk. Am I ruling out from philosophy anyone whose inquiries do not ultimately rely upon reason and evidence? Yes, and unapologetically so. 5 I need to make another qualification here. It is not that poetry and literature cannot overlap with philosophy. It all depends on whether we are talking about the mode of expression, or the source of the ideas in the first place. Camus, for instance, expressed himself very well through the medium of novels and plays, but the thoughts he expressed seem to have been worked out by appeals to reason and evidence. I would contrast that with, say, Whitman's poem where he is disgusted by how astronomers dissect everything, and then wanders outside to be struck by the beauty of the night sky. I suspect Whitman was just articulating feelings, and not a rationally worked out position; however deep they may be, and however much grist they might provide for a philosophical mill, Whitman still was not doing philosophy.
1

Many introductions to philosophy also count aesthetics (the study of art and beauty) as a major branch of philosophy. Properly speaking, ethics and aesthetics are both subbranches of a larger branch of inquiry called axiology, which concerns itself with value. I have ignored aesthetics and upgraded ethics here, simply because that seems to be the way things have gone in the academy. 7 Two I haven't experienced are drunkenness and drug euphoria. Since our advanced ability to reason is one of the very few things that makes us different from the other animals, it is difficult for me to understand the appeal of immoderate use of mind-altering substances. The mass appeal of drugs and overindulgence in alcohol seems to me to be an example of collective madness. In any case, both are antithetical to the spirit of analytic philosophy.
6

The Importance of Philosophy in Human Life


By Unknown 9/17/04 Printer Friendly Page

PHILOSOPHY is a study that seeks to understand the mysteries of existence and reality. It tries to discover the nature of truth and knowledge and to find what is of basic value and importance in life. It also examines the relationships between humanity and nature and between the individual and society. Philosophy arises out of wonder, curiosity, and the desire to know and understand. Philosophy is thus a form of inquiry--a process of analysis, criticism, interpretation, and speculation.

The term philosophy cannot be defined precisely because the subject is so complex and so controversial. Different philosophers have different views of the nature, methods, and range of philosophy. The term philosophy itself comes from the Greek philosophia, which means love of wisdom. In that sense, wisdom is the active use of intelligence, not something passive that a person simply possesses. The first known Western philosophers lived in the ancient Greek world during the early 500's B.C. These early philosophers tried to discover the basic makeup of things and the nature of the world and of reality. For answers to questions about such subjects, people had largely relied on magic, superstition, religion, tradition, or authority. But the Greek philosophers

considered those sources of knowledge unreliable. Instead, they sought answers by thinking and by studying nature. Philosophy has also had a long history in some non-Western cultures, especially in China and India. But until about 200 years ago, there was little interchange between those philosophies and Western philosophy, chiefly because of difficulties of travel and communication. As a result, Western philosophy generally developed independently of Eastern philosophy.
The Importance of Philosophy

Philosophic thought is an inescapable part of human existence. Almost everyone has been puzzled from time to time by such essentially philosophic questions as "What does life mean?" "Did I have any existence before I was born?" and "Is there life after death?" Most people also have some kind of philosophy in the sense of a personal outlook on life. Even a person who claims that considering philosophic questions is a waste of time is expressing what is important, worthwhile, or valuable. A rejection of all philosophy is in itself philosophy. By studying philosophy, people can clarify what they believe, and they can be stimulated to think about ultimate questions. A person can study philosophers of the past to discover why they thought as they did and what value their thoughts may have in one's own life. There are people who simply enjoy reading the great philosophers, especially those who were also great writers. Philosophy has had enormous influence on our everyday lives. The very language we speak uses classifications derived from philosophy. For example, the classifications of noun and verb involve the philosophic idea that there is a difference between things and actions. If we ask what the difference is, we are starting a philosophic inquiry. Every institution of society is based on philosophic ideas, whether that institution is the law, government, religion, the family, marriage, industry, business, or education. Philosophic differences have led to the overthrow of governments, drastic changes in laws, and the transformation of entire economic systems. Such changes have occurred because the people involved held certain beliefs about what is important, true, real, and significant and about how life should be ordered. Systems of education follow a society's philosophic ideas about what children should be taught and for what purposes. Democratic societies stress that people learn to think and make choices for themselves. Nondemocratic societies discourage such activities and want their citizens to surrender their own interests to those of the state. The values and skills taught by the

educational system of a society thus reflect the society's philosophic ideas of what is important.
The Branches of Philosophy

Philosophic inquiry can be made into any subject because philosophy deals with everything in the world and all of knowledge. But traditionally, and for purposes of study, philosophy is divided into five branches, each organized around certain distinctive questions. The branches are (1) metaphysics, (2) epistemology, (3) logic, (4) ethics, and (5) aesthetics. In addition, the philosophy of language has become so important during the 1900's that it is often considered another branch of philosophy. Metaphysics is the study of the fundamental nature of reality and existence and of the essences of things. Metaphysics is itself often divided into two areas--ontology and cosmology. Ontology is the study of being. Cosmology is the study of the physical universe, or the cosmos, taken as a whole. Cosmology is also the name of the branch of science that studies the organization, history, and future of the universe. Metaphysics deals with such questions as "What is real?" "What is the distinction between appearance and reality?" "What are the most general principles and concepts by which our experiences can be interpreted and understood?" and "Do we possess free will or are our actions determined by causes over which we have no control?" Philosophers have developed a number of theories in metaphysics. These theories include materialism, idealism, mechanism, and teleology. Materialism maintains that only matter has real existence and that feelings, thoughts, and other mental phenomena are produced by the activity of matter. Idealism states that every material thing is an idea or a form of an idea. In idealism, mental phenomena are what is fundamentally important and real. Mechanism maintains that all happenings result from purely mechanical forces, not from purpose, and that it makes no sense to speak of the universe itself as having a purpose. Teleology, on the other hand, states that the universe and everything in it exists and occurs for some purpose. Epistemology aims to determine the nature, basis, and extent of knowledge. It explores the various ways of knowing, the nature of truth, and the relationships between knowledge and belief. Epistemology asks such questions as "What are the features of genuine knowledge as distinct from what appears to be knowledge?" "What is truth, and how can we know what is true and what is false?" and "Are there different kinds of knowledge, with different grounds and characteristics?"

Philosophers often distinguish between two kinds of knowledge, a priori and empirical. We arrive at a priori knowledge by thinking, without independent appeal to experience. For example, we know that there are 60 seconds in a minute by learning the meanings of the terms. In the same way, we know that there are 60 minutes in an hour. From these facts, we can deduce that there are 3,600 seconds in an hour, and we arrive at this conclusion by the operation of thought alone. We acquire empirical knowledge from observation and experience. For example, we know from observation how many keys are on a typewriter and from experience which key will print what letter. The nature of truth has baffled people since ancient times, partly because people so often use the term true for ideas they find congenial and want to believe, and also because people so often disagree about which ideas are true. Philosophers have attempted to define criteria for distinguishing between truth and error. But they disagree about what truth means and how to arrive at true ideas. The correspondence theory holds that an idea is true if it corresponds to the facts or reality. The pragmatic theory maintains that an idea is true if it works or settles the problem it deals with. The coherence theory states that truth is a matter of degree and that an idea is true to the extent to which it coheres (fits together) with other ideas that one holds. Skepticism claims that knowledge is impossible to attain and that truth is unknowable. Logic is the study of the principles and methods of reasoning. It explores how we distinguish between good (or sound) reasoning and bad (or unsound) reasoning. An instance of reasoning is called an argument or an inference. An argument consists of a set of statements called premises together with a statement called the conclusion, which is supposed to be supported by or derived from the premises. A good argument provides support for its conclusion, and a bad argument does not. Two basic types of reasoning are called deductive and inductive. A good deductive argument is said to be valid--that is, the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises. A deductive argument whose conclusion does not follow necessarily from the premises is said to be invalid. The argument "All human beings are mortal, all Greeks are human beings, therefore all Greeks are mortal" is a valid deductive argument. But the argument "All human beings are mortal, all Greeks are mortal, therefore all Greeks are human beings" is invalid, even though the conclusion is true. On that line of reasoning, one could argue that all dogs, which are also mortal, are human beings. Deductive reasoning is used to explore the necessary consequences of certain assumptions. Inductive reasoning is used to establish matters of fact and the laws of nature and does not aim at being deductively valid. One who

reasons that all squirrels like nuts, on the basis that all squirrels so far observed like nuts, is reasoning inductively. The conclusion could be false, even though the premise is true. Nevertheless, the premise provides considerable support for the conclusion. Ethics concerns human conduct, character, and values. It studies the nature of right and wrong and the distinction between good and evil. Ethics explores the nature of justice and of a just society, and also one's obligations to oneself, to others, and to society. Ethics asks such questions as "What makes right actions right and wrong actions wrong?" "What is good and what is bad?" and "What are the proper values of life?" Problems arise in ethics because we often have difficulty knowing exactly what is the right thing to do. In many cases, our obligations conflict or are vague. In addition, people often disagree about whether a particular action or principle is morally right or wrong. A view called relativism maintains that what is right or wrong depends on the particular culture concerned. What is right in one society may be wrong in another, this view argues, and so no basic standards exist by which a culture may be judged right or wrong. Objectivism claims that there are objective standards of right and wrong which can be discovered and which apply to everyone. Subjectivism states that all moral standards are subjective matters of taste or opinion. Aesthetics deals with the creation and principles of art and beauty. It also studies our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes when we see, hear, or read something beautiful. Something beautiful may be a work of art, such as a painting, symphony, or poem, or it may be a sunset or other natural phenomenon. In addition, aesthetics investigates the experience of engaging in such activities as painting, dancing, acting, and playing. Aesthetics is sometimes identified with the philosophy of art, which deals with the nature of art, the process of artistic creation, the nature of the aesthetic experience, and the principles of criticism. But aesthetics has wider application. It involves both works of art created by human beings and the beauty found in nature. Aesthetics relates to ethics and political philosophy when we ask questions about what role art and beauty should play in society and in the life of the individual. Such questions include "How can people's taste in the arts be improved?" "How should the arts be taught in the schools?" and "Do governments have the right to restrict artistic expression?" The Philosophy of Language has become especially important in recent times. Some philosophers claim that all philosophic questions arise out of

linguistic problems. Others claim that all philosophic questions are really questions about language. One key question is "What is language?" But there are also questions about the relationships between language and thought and between language and the world, as well as questions about the nature of meaning and of definition. The question has been raised whether there can be a logically perfect language that would reflect in its categories the essential characteristics of the world. This question raises questions about the adequacy of ordinary language as a philosophic tool. All such questions belong to the philosophy of language, which has essential connections with other branches of philosophy.
Philosophy and Other Fields

One peculiarity of philosophy is that the question "What is philosophy?" is itself a question of philosophy. But the question "What is art?" is not a question of art. The question is philosophic. The same is true of such questions as "What is history?" and "What is law?" Each is a question of philosophy. Such questions are basic to the philosophy of education, the philosophy of history, the philosophy of law, and other "philosophy of" fields. Each of these fields attempts to determine the foundations, fundamental categories, and methods of a particular institution or area of study. A strong relationship therefore exists between philosophy and other fields of human activity. This relationship can be seen by examining two fields: (1) philosophy and science and (2) philosophy and religion. Philosophy and Science. Science studies natural phenomena and the phenomena of society. It does not study itself. When science does reflect on itself, it becomes the philosophy of science and examines a number of philosophic questions. These questions include "What is science?" "What is scientific method?" "Does scientific truth provide us with the truth about the universe and reality?" and "What is the value of science?" Philosophy has given birth to several major fields of scientific study. Until the 1700's, no distinction was made between science and philosophy. For example, physics was called natural philosophy. Psychology was part of what was called moral philosophy. In the early 1800's, sociology and linguistics separated from philosophy and became distinct areas of study. Logic has always been considered a branch of philosophy. However, logic has now developed to the point where it is also a branch of mathematics, which is a basic science. Philosophy and science differ in many respects. For example, science has attained definite and tested knowledge of many matters and has thus resolved disagreement about those matters. Philosophy has not. As a result,

controversy has always been characteristic of philosophy. Science and philosophy do share one significant goal. Both seek to discover the truth--to answer questions, solve problems, and satisfy curiosity. In the process, both science and philosophy provoke further questions and problems, with each solution bringing more questions and problems. Philosophy and Religion. Historically, philosophy originated in religious questions. These questions concerned the nature and purpose of life and death and the relationship of humanity to superhuman powers or a divine creator. Every society has some form of religion. Most people acquire their religion from their society as they acquire their language. Philosophy inquires into the essence of things, and inquiry into the essence of religion is a philosophic inquiry. Religious ideas generated some of the earliest philosophic speculations about the nature of life and the universe.The speculations often centered on the idea of a supernatural or superpowerful being who created the universe and who governs it according to unchangeable laws and gives it purpose. Western philosophic tradition has paid much attention to the possibility of demonstrating the existence of God. The chief goal of some philosophers is not understanding and knowledge. Instead, they try to help people endure the pain, anxiety, and suffering of earthly existence. Such philosophers attempt to make philosophic reflection on the nature and purpose of life perform the function of religion.
Oriental Philosophy

There are two main traditions in Oriental philosophy, Chinese and Indian. Both philosophies are basically religious and ethical in origin and character. They are removed from any interest in science. Traditionally, Chinese philosophy has been largely practical, humanistic, and social in its aims. It developed as a means of bringing about improvements in society and politics. Traditionally, philosophy in India has been chiefly mystical rather than political. It has been dominated by reliance on certain sacred texts, called Vedas, which are considered inspired and true and therefore subject only for commentary and not for criticism. Much of Indian philosophy has emphasized withdrawal from everyday life into the life of the spirit. Chinese philosophy typically called for efforts to participate in the life of the state in order to improve worldly conditions. Chinese philosophy as we know it started in the 500's B.C. with the philosopher Confucius. His philosophy, called Confucianism, was the official philosophy of China for centuries, though it was reinterpreted by different

generations. Confucianism aimed to help people live better and more rewarding lives by discipline and by instruction in the proper goals of life. Candidates for government positions had to pass examinations on Confucian thought, and Confucianism formed the basis for government decisions. No other civilization has placed such emphasis on philosophy. Other philosophic traditions in China were Taoism, Mohism, and realism. Beginning in the 1100's, a movement known as Neo-Confucianism incorporated elements of all these doctrines. We do not know exactly when Indian philosophy began. In India, philosophic thought was intermingled with religion, and most Indian philosophic thought has been religious in character and aim. Philosophic commentaries on sacred texts emerge during the 500's B.C. The Indian word for these studies is darshana, which means vision or seeing. It corresponds to what the ancient Greeks called philosophia. In India, as in China, people conceived of philosophy as a way of life, not as a mere intellectual activity. The main aim of Indian philosophy was freedom from the suffering and tension caused by the body and the senses and by attachment to worldly things. The main philosophies developed in India were Hinduism and Buddhism, which were also religions. Yet some Indian philosophers did develop a complex system of logic and carried on investigations in epistemology. Some Indian philosophic ideas have been influential in the West. One such idea is reincarnation, the belief that the human soul is successively reborn in new bodies. The History of Western Philosophy The history of Western philosophy is commonly divided into three periods-ancient, medieval, and modern. The period of ancient philosophy extended from about 600 B.C. to about the A.D. 400's. Medieval philosophy lasted from the 400's to the 1600's. Modern philosophy covers the period from the 1600's to the present. Ancient Philosophy was almost entirely Greek. The greatest philosophers of the ancient world were three Greeks of the 400's and 300's B.C.--Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Their philosophy influenced all later Western culture. Our ideas in the fields of metaphysics, science, logic, and ethics originated from their thought. A number of distinctive schools of philosophy also flourished in ancient Greece. The Pre-Socratics were the first Greek philosophers. Their name comes from the fact that most of them lived before the birth of Socrates, which was about 469 B.C. The pre-Socratic philosophers were mainly interested in the nature and source of the universe and the nature of reality. They wanted to

identify the fundamental substance that they thought underlay all phenomena, and in terms of which all phenomena could be explained. Unlike most other people of their time, the pre-Socratic philosophers did not believe that gods or supernatural forces caused natural events. Instead, they sought a natural explanation for natural phenomena. The philosophers saw the universe as a set of connected and unified phenomena for which thought could find an explanation. They gave many different and conflicting answers to basic philosophic questions. However, the importance of the pre-Socratics lies not in the truth of their answers but in the fact that they examined the questions in the first place. They had no philosophic tradition to work from, but their ideas provided a tradition for all later philosophers. Socrates left no writings, though he was constantly engaged in philosophic discussion. Our knowledge of his ideas and methods comes mainly from dialogues written by his pupil Plato. In most of the dialogues, Socrates appears as the main character, who leads and develops the process of inquiry. Socrates lived in Athens and taught in the streets, market place, and gymnasiums. He taught by a question-and-answer method. Socrates tried to get a definition or precise view of some abstract idea, such as knowledge, virtue, justice, or wisdom. He would use close, sharp questioning, constantly asking "What do you mean?" and "How do you know?" This procedure, called the Socratic method, became the model for philosophic methods that emphasize debate and discussion. Socrates wanted to replace vague opinions with clear ideas. He often questioned important Athenians and exposed their empty claims to knowledge and wisdom. This practice made him many enemies, and he was put to death as a danger to the state. He thus became a symbol of the philosopher who pursued an argument wherever it led to arrive at the truth, no matter what the cost. Plato believed that we cannot gain knowledge of things through our senses because the objects of sense perception are fleeting and constantly changing. Plato stated that we can have genuine knowledge only of changeless things, such as truth, beauty, and goodness, which are known by the mind. He called such things ideas or forms. Plato taught that only ideas are real and that all other things only reflect ideas. This view became known as idealism. According to Plato, the most important idea is the idea of good. Knowledge of good is the object of all inquiry, a goal to which all other things are subordinate. Plato stated that the best life is one of contemplation of eternal truths. However, he believed people who have attained this state must return to the world of everyday life

and use their skills and knowledge to serve humanity. Plato also believed that the soul is immortal and that only the body perishes at death. His ideas contributed to views about the body, soul, and eternal things later developed in Christian theology. Aristotle, Plato's greatest pupil, wrote about almost every known subject of his day. He invented the idea of a science and of separate sciences, each having distinct principles and dealing with different subject matter. He wrote on such topics as physics, astronomy, psychology, biology, physiology, and anatomy. Aristotle also investigated what he called "first philosophy," later known as metaphysics. Aristotle created the earliest philosophic system. In his philosophy, all branches of inquiry and knowledge are parts of some overall system and connected by the same concepts and principles. Aristotle believed that all things in nature have some purpose. According to his philosophy, the nature of each thing is determined by its purpose, and all things seek to fulfill their natures by carrying out these purposes. Aristotle's basic method of inquiry consisted of starting from what we know or think we know and then asking how, what, and why. In his metaphysics, he developed the idea of a first cause, which was not itself caused by anything, as the ultimate explanation of existence. Christian theologians later adopted this idea as a basic argument for the existence of God. Aristotle taught that everyone aims at some good. He said that happiness does not lie in pleasure but in virtuous activity. By virtuous activity, he meant behaving according to a mean between extremes. For example, courage is the mean between the extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness. The highest happiness of all, Aristotle believed, was the contemplative use of the mind. Stoic Philosophy and Epicureanism were the two main schools of Greek philosophy that emerged after the death of Aristotle in 322 B.C. Both schools taught that the purpose of knowing is to enable a person to lead the best and most contented life. Stoic philosophy was founded by Zeno of Citium. He taught that people should spend their lives trying to cultivate virtue, the greatest good. The Stoics believed in strict determinism--the idea that all things are fated to be. Therefore, they said, a wise and virtuous person accepts and makes the best of what cannot be changed. Stoicism spread to Rome. There, the chief Stoics included the statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, the emperor Marcus Aurelius, and the teacher Epictetus. Epicureanism was founded by Epicurus. Epicurus based his philosophy on hedonism--the idea that the only good in life is pleasure. However, Epicurus

taught that not all pleasures are good. The only good pleasures are calm and moderate ones because extreme pleasures could lead to pain. The highest pleasures, Epicurus said, are physical health and peace of mind, two kinds of freedom from pain. Skepticism was a school of philosophy founded by Pyrrho of Elis about the same time that Stoic philosophy and Epicureanism flourished. Pyrrho taught that we can know nothing. Our senses, he said, deceive us and provide no accurate knowledge of the way things are. Thus, all claims to knowledge are false. Because we can know nothing, in this view, we should treat all things with indifference and make no judgments. Neoplatonism was a revived version of some of Plato's ideas as adapted by Plotinus, a philosopher who may have been born in Egypt in the A.D. 200's. Neoplatonism tried to guide the individual toward a unity--a oneness--with God, which is a state of blessedness. Plotinus believed that the human soul yearns for reunion with God, which it can achieve only in mystical experience. Neoplatonism provided the bridge between Greek philosophy and early Christian philosophy. It inspired the idea that important truths can be learned only through faith and God's influence, not by reason. Medieval Philosophy. During the Middle Ages, Western philosophy developed more as a part of Christian theology than as an independent branch of inquiry. The philosophy of Greece and Rome survived only in its influence on religious thought. Saint Augustine was the greatest philosopher of the early Middle Ages. In a book titled The City of God (early 400's), Augustine interpreted human history as a conflict between faithful Christians living in the city of God and pagans and heretics living in the city of the world. Augustine wrote that the people of the city of God will gain eternal salvation, but the people in the city of the world will receive eternal punishment. The book weakened the belief in the pagan religion of Rome and helped further the spread of Christianity. A system of thought called scholasticism dominated medieval philosophy from about the 1100's to the 1400's. The term scholasticism refers to the method of philosophic investigation used by teachers of philosophy and theology in the newly developing universities of western Europe. The teachers were called scholastics. The scholastic method consisted in precise analysis of concepts with subtle distinctions between different senses of these concepts. The scholastics used deductive reasoning from principles established by their method to provide solutions to problems. Scholasticism was basically generated by the translation of Aristotle's works into Latin, the language of the medieval Christian church. These works presented medieval thinkers with the problem of reconciling Aristotle's great

body of philosophic thought with the Bible and Christian doctrine. The most famous scholastic was Saint Thomas Aquinas. His philosophy combined Aristotle's thought with theology, and it eventually became the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church. The great contributions of the scholastics to philosophy included major development of the philosophy of language. The scholastics studied how features of language can affect our understanding of the world. They also emphasized the importance of logic to philosophic inquiry. Modern Philosophy. A great cultural movement in Europe called the Renaissance overlapped the end of the Middle Ages and formed a transition between medieval and modern philosophy. The Renaissance began in Italy and lasted from about 1300 to about 1600. It was a time of intellectual reawakening stemming from the rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman culture. During the Renaissance, major advances occurred in such sciences as astronomy, physics, and mathematics. Scholars called humanists stressed the importance of human beings and the study of classical literature as a guide to understanding life. Emphasis on science and on humanism led to changes in the aims and techniques of philosophic inquiry. Scholasticism declined, and philosophy was freed of its ties to medieval theology. One of the earliest philosophers to support the scientific method was Francis Bacon of England. Most historians consider Bacon and Rene Descartes of France to be the founders of modern philosophy. Bacon wrote two influential works, The Advancement of Learning (1605) and Novum Organum (1620). He stated that knowledge was power and that knowledge could be obtained only by the inductive method of investigation. Bacon imagined a new world of culture and leisure that could be gained by inquiry into the laws and processes of nature. In describing this world, he anticipated the effects of advances in science, engineering, and technology. Rationalism was a philosophic outlook that arose in the 1600's. The basic idea of rationalism is that reason is superior to experience as a source of knowledge and that the validity of sense perception must be proved from more certain principles. The rationalists tried to determine the nature of the world and of reality by deduction from premises themselves established as certain a priori. They also stressed the importance of mathematical procedures. The leading rationalists were Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz. Descartes was a mathematician as well as a philosopher. He invented analytic geometry. Descartes's basic idea was to establish a secure foundation for the sciences, a foundation of the sort he had found for mathematics. He was thus much concerned with the foundations of knowledge, and he started philosophy on its persistent consideration of

epistemological problems. Descartes was a mechanist--that is, he regarded all physical phenomena as connected mechanically by laws of cause and effect. Descartes's philosophy generated the problem of how mind and matter are related. Spinoza constructed a system of philosophy on the model of geometry. He attempted to derive philosophic conclusions from a few central axioms (supposedly self-evident truths) and definitions. Spinoza did not view God as some superhuman being who created the universe. He identified God with the universe. Spinoza was also a mechanist, regarding everything in the universe as determined. Spinoza's main aim was ethical. He wanted to show how people could be free, could lead reasonable and thus satisfying lives, in a deterministic world. Leibniz believed that the actual world is only one of many possible worlds. He tried to show how the actual world is the best of all possible worlds in an effort to justify the ways of God to humanity. Thus, he attempted to solve the problem of how a perfect and all-powerful God could have created a world filled with so much suffering and evil. Leibniz and Sir Isaac Newton, an English scientist, independently developed calculus. Leibniz' work in mathematics anticipated the development of symbolic logic--the use of mathematical symbols and operations to solve problems in logic. Empiricism emphasizes the importance of experience and sense perception as the source and basis of knowledge. The first great empiricist was John Locke of England in the 1600's. George Berkeley of Ireland and David Hume of Scotland further developed empiricism in the 1700's. Locke tried to determine the origin, extent, and certainty of human knowledge in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Locke argued that there are no innate ideas--that is, ideas people are born with. He believed that when a person is born, the mind is like a blank piece of paper. Experience is therefore the source of all ideas and all knowledge. Berkeley dealt with the question "If whatever a human being knows is only an idea, how can one be sure that there is anything in the world corresponding to that idea?" Berkeley answered that "to be is to be perceived." No object exists, he said, unless it is perceived by some mind. Material objects are ideas in the mind and have no independent existence. Hume extended the theories of Locke and Berkeley to a consistent skepticism about almost everything. He maintained that everything in the mind consists of impressions and ideas, with ideas coming from impressions. Every idea can be traced to and tested by some earlier impression. According to Hume, we must be able to determine from what impression we derived an idea for that idea to have meaning. An apparent idea that cannot

be traced to an impression must be meaningless. Hume also raised the question of how can we know that the future will be like the past--that the laws of nature will continue to operate as they have. He claimed that we can only know that events have followed certain patterns in the past. We cannot therefore be certain that events will continue to follow those patterns. The Age of Reason was a period of great intellectual activity that began in the 1600's and lasted until the late 1700's. The period is also called the Enlightenment. Philosophers of the Age of Reason stressed the use of reason, as opposed to the reliance on authority and scriptural revelation. For them, reason provided means of attaining the truth about the world and of ordering human society to assure human well-being. The leading philosophers included Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. They also included Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, and other members of a group of French philosophers called the philosophes. Locke's philosophic ideas were characteristic of the Age of Reason. Locke sought to determine the limits of human understanding and to discover what can be known within those limits that will serve as a guide to life and conduct. He tried to show that people should live by the principles of toleration, liberty, and natural rights. His Two Treatises of Government (1690) provided the philosophic base for the Revolutionary War in America and the French Revolution in the late 1700's. The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a great German philosopher of the late 1700's, became the foundation for nearly all later developments in philosophy. Kant's philosophy is called critical philosophy or transcendental philosophy. Kant was stimulated by the skeptical philosophy of Hume to try to bring about a synthesis of rationalism and empiricism. In his Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Kant tried to provide a critical account of the powers and limits of human reason, to determine what is knowable and what is unknowable. Kant concluded that reason can provide knowledge only of things as they appear to us, never of things as they are in themselves. Kant believed that the mind plays an active role in knowing and is not a mere recorder of facts presented by the senses. The mind does this through basic categories or forms of understanding, which are independent of experience and without which our experience would not make sense. Through such categories and the operations of the mind, working on sense experience, we can have knowledge, but only of things that can be experienced. Kant criticized the traditional arguments for the existence of God. He argued that they are all in error because they make claims that go beyond the possibility of experience and thus go beyond the powers of human reason. In his Critique of Practical Reason (1788), Kant argued that practical reason (reason applied to practice) can show us how we ought to act and also

provides a practical reason for believing in God, though not a proof that God exists. Philosophy in the 1800's. Kant's philosophy stimulated various systems of thought in the 1800's, such as those of G. W. F. Hegel and Karl Marx of Germany. Hegel developed a theory of historical change called dialectic, in which the conflict of opposites results in the creation of a new unity and then its opposite. Hegel's theory was transformed by Marx into dialectical materialism. Marx believed that only material things are real. He stated that all ideas are built on an economic base. He believed that the dialectic of conflict between capitalists and industrial workers will lead to the establishment of communism, which he called socialism, as an economic and political system. Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, was an atheist who proclaimed in Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-1885) that "God is dead." Nietzsche meant that the idea of God had lost the power to motivate and discipline large masses of people. He believed that people would have to look to some other idea to guide their lives. Nietzsche predicted the evolution of the superman, who would be beyond the weakness of human beings and beyond the merely human appeals to morality. He regarded such appeals as appeals to weakness, not strength. He felt that all behavior is based on the will to power--the desire of people to control others and their own passions. The superman would develop a new kind of perfection and excellence through the capacity to realize the will to power through strength, rather than weakness. The dominant philosophy in England during the 1800's was utilitarianism, developed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. The utilitarians maintained that the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people is the test of right and wrong. They argued that all existing social institutions, especially law and government, must be transformed to satisfy the test of greatest happiness. In The Subjection of Women (1869), Mill wrote that the legal subordination of women to men ought to be replaced by "a principle of perfect equality." That idea was revolutionary in Mill's time. Philosophy in the 1900's has seen five main movements predominate. Two of these movements, existentialism and phenomenology, have had their greatest influence in the countries on the mainland of western Europe. The three other movements, pragmatism, logical positivism, and philosophical analysis, have been influential chiefly in the United States and Great Britain. Existentialism became influential in the mid-1900's. World War II (19391945) gave rise to widespread feelings of despair and of separation from the established order. These feelings led to the idea that people have to create their own values in a world in which traditional values no longer govern.

Existentialism insists that choices have to be made arbitrarily by individuals, who thus create themselves, because there are no objective standards to determine choice. The most famous of the existentialist philosophers is the French author Jean-Paul Sartre. Phenomenology was developed by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl. Husserl conceived the task of phenomenology, hence the task of philosophy, as describing phenomena--the objects of experience--accurately and independently of all assumptions derived from science. He thought that this activity would provide philosophic knowledge of reality. Pragmatism, represented in the 1900's by William James and John Dewey of the United States, maintains knowledge is subordinate to action. The meaning and truth of ideas are determined by their relation to practice. Logical positivism, developed in Vienna, Austria, in the 1920's, believes philosophy should analyze the logic of the language of science. It regards science as the only source of knowledge and claims metaphysics is meaningless. It bases this claim on the principle of verifiability, by which a statement is meaningful only if it can be verified by sense experience. Philosophical analysis generally tries to solve philosophic problems through analysis of language or concepts. Some versions of this philosophy attempt to show that traditional philosophic problems dissolve--that is, disappear--on proper analysis of the terms in which they are expressed. Other versions use linguistic analysis to throw light on, not dissolve, traditional philosophic problems. The most influential philosophers practicing philosophic analysis have been Bertrand Russell of England and Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was born in Austria but studied and taught in England.

The Importance of Logic and Philosophy


Few people in society today spend much time studying either philosophy of logic. This is unfortunate because so much relies on both: philosophy is a fundamental component to all areas of human inquiry while logic is the fundamental basis on which philosophy itself can be done. In Issue 51 of Philosophy Now, Rick Lewis writes an editorial about why logic and philosophy are so vital:

Above all, the aim of studying the structure of arguments is to think more clearly. This is the aim of critical thinking. The idea is to look at the argument for some position, see if you can identify its precise logical form, and then examine that form to see where it might have weaknesses. ... Just as philosophy in a sense underlies all other branches of human enquiry, so logic is the most fundamental branch of philosophy. Philosophy is based on reasoning, and logic is the study of what makes a sound argument, and also of the kind of mistakes we can make in reasoning. So study logic and you will become a better philosopher and a clearer thinker generally. Thinking clearly is important to everyone every day of their lives. At least, it should be who wants to think un-clearly or incoherently? That should mean, however, that people would want to spend time learning how to think clearly and practicing so that they can improve. We dont really see that occurring, though, do we? Its curious that something which is so fundamental to everything we do should occupy so little of our time and attention.

Courses in philosophy help students who recognize philosophy as a central element in a quality liberal arts education; wish to support their undergraduate work in other fields, such as literature, history, political science, religion, the sciences, education, or business; plan to use their study of philosophy in preparation for graduate study in law, theology, or medicine; or are considering graduate work in philosophy itself, usually with the intention of teaching in the field.

Six PLU professors tackle common assumptions, age-old wisdom, folklore and controversies of the day, and ask the question "Is this really true?"

Undergraduate study in philosophy is fundamental in pursuing the most important questions regarding one's understanding of themselves, others and the world in which they live. More specifically,

it serves to sharpen basic skills in critical thinking, problem solving, research, analysis, interpretation, and writing. It also provides critical perspective on and a deep appreciation of ideas and issues that have intrigued humanity throughout the ages, including those central to the Western intellectual heritage. This prepares students for a great variety of positions of responsibility, especially when coupled with specialized training in other disciplines. Those with the highest potential for advancement generally have more than just specialized training; rather, they bring to their work breadth of perspective, intellectual flexibility and depth, and well honed skills in critical thought and communication.

Philosophy is inescapable.
Your philosophy is your worldview, which is a backdrop for all thought and a context for allknowledge. The decision about examining philosophy is between: 1) to make your philosophy explicit, or 2) to be a slave to the subconscious notions, principles, and other people's philosophies picked up throughout life. To ignore the topic of philosophy is to be doomed to the second choice. Examining your philosophy will allow you to discover and root out all errors and contradictions and allow you to more easily acquire knowledge and to think in concepts rather than concretes. A philosophic system is an integrated view of existence. As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation -- or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind's wings should have grown. Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It This site explores the importance of philosophy and presents many of the important concepts and questions that must be considered. It will tell you how to base your philosophy on reason rather than randomness, which will lead to clarity, certainty, success, and happiness. The alternative to an explicit rational philosophy is an indifference that leads to confusion and often failure.

Philosophy is not some arcane field important only to old men in ivory towers. It explicitly asks and answers fundamental, inescapable questions such as "How can I know something?" and "What should I do?" Without some answer to these questions, no knowledge or action is possible. Again, the only choice is to explicitly examine the underlying assumptions involved or to be at the mercy of the random flotsam picked up throughout life. You can start by learning the major ideas and how they're related by looking at the Concept Chartand clicking on the various concepts, which index into the more complete set of information contained in the Five Branches of Philosophy section.

Philosophy
A philosophy is a system of beliefs about reality. It is one's integrated view of the world. It includes an understanding of the nature of existence, man, and his role in the world. Philosophy is the foundation of knowledge. It is the standard by which ideas are integrated and understood. Philosophy is a necessary product of man's rational mind. To live, man must gain knowledge of the world. To understand the world, man must form conclusions about its very nature. For instance, to gain knowledge of particular objects, man must recognize that objects have identity. He must recognize that conclusions are possible because the world does exist, and exists in a particular way. Philosophy provides the framework for which man can understand the world. It provides the premises by which man can discover truth, and use his mind to support his life. Every man has an understanding of the world. Every man must have a philosophy, even if it is never made explicit.

The Concept Chart The 5 Branches of Philosophy


Metaphysics Epistemology Ethics Politics Esthetics

Misbegotten Notions
Mystical Metaphysics Irrational Epistemology Evil Ethics Bloody Politics Post-Modern Esthetics

Dictionary

Introduction to the Five Branches of Philosophy


Philosophy can be divided into five branches which address the following questions:
Metaphys Study of ics Existence Epistemol Study of ogy Knowledge Ethics Study of Action What's out there?

How do I know about it? What should I do? What actions are permissible? What can life be like?

Politics Esthetics

Study of Force Study of Art

There is a hierarchical relationship between these branches as can be seen in the Concept Chart. At the root is Metaphysics, the study of existence and the nature of existence. Closely related is Epistemology, the study of knowledge and how we know about reality and existence. Dependent on Epistemology is Ethics, the study of how man should act. Ethics is dependent on Epistemology because it is impossible to make choices without knowledge. A subset of Ethics isPolitics: the study of how men should interact in a proper society and what constitutes proper.Esthetics, the study of art and sense of life is slightly separate, but depends on Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Ethics.

What is the Use of Philosophy?


TO ASK WHAT THE USE OF PHILOSOPHY IS is like asking what the use of understanding is. One answer is that understanding is something that we very often seek for its own sake. As Aristotle said long ago: All human beings by nature desire to understand. We are curious if nothing else, and it is one of the more admirable traits of human beings. We like to know what is going on and why. After we have fed ourselves and put a roof over our heads, and attended to other basic needs, the question arises what we are to do with our time. One suggestion is that we should raise our heads a bit and look around us and try to understand ourselves and things around us. This turns out to be interesting. It is the genesis of both science and philosophy, with science taking the more empirical road to understanding and philosophy the more conceptual. These are complementary enterprises and there have always been important connections between them which continue despite the growth of institutional science and its increasing splintering into more and more highly specialized subdisciplines. There are universities only because human beings are by their nature curious. Universities are centers of curiosity. They are repositories and preservers of the accumulated knowledge and understanding of humankind as well as the primary centers in the modern of world of the pursuit of pure inquiry, that is, inquiry for sake of slaking our thirst for understanding. Why is this valuable? Well, why is anything valuable? It is a good question, isnt it? Its a philosophical question. Curious? You ought to be. To think that one thing is more valuable than another is already to have presupposed answers to a range of questions, questions which most people scarcely raise for themselves. Wouldnt it be a good thing to know whether you had any good grounds for thinking the things you do, and to know what they were and how they supported what you thought? It would be. But then what you are seeking is understanding. The question why understanding is valuable answers itself. Once you ask the question, any sound answer requires that you seek an understanding of what makes something valuable and what understanding is. Understanding pays its own way. It seems scarcely necessary to defend the value of understandingexcept a context in which the university is conceived of as primarily a vocational school. It is an embarrassing fact that even many within the university communityadministrators often enoughjustify the university in a way that encourages this view. But it is understandable, since we live in a culture in which affluence is often treated as if it were an end-in-itself. It is often tacitly and somewhat cynically assumed that an inattentive

publics support for the central role of the university in civilization can be bought only with the promise of high paying jobs for their sons and daughtersas if that were the final end of life. But you can only eat so much. The poverty of a life is not measured by the amount of money one has in the bank. Most people know this. Aristotle said that education is the best viaticum for old age. But it is not just the best provision for the last part of the journey of life, but for the whole of the journey. It is because with a good education comes an enlarged capacity for understanding. A good education gives you the knowledge of what it is like to really understand something. It brings a wider and more acute perception of things generally. It provides a context for understanding the pattern of your own life which frees it from the parochialism of time and place. It cultivates a larger and more sophisticated range of interests. It provides a perspective that eases, if does not remove, the inevitable burdens and pains of a private life. Of course, a university education is not irrelevant to success in life, in all its aspects. But that doesnt mean that the university is a vocational school. The university is constituted by a variety of colleges and schools. Two things set a university off from a college. The first is that it offers graduate degrees as well as undergraduate degrees. This marks a university as a center of active research in the disciplines it represents, for graduate training in a discipline involves active participation in research in the discipline. The second is that the university is a consortium of colleges which includes professional colleges, such as engineering, law, medicine, and business. Professional colleges do aim to train graduates in professions. But the university should be conceived of as like a solar system in which there is an anchor that holds everything together. At a university, that is the college of liberal arts and sciences (or sometimes a collection of colleges representing the liberal arts and sciences). This is the college which aims at providing the core of the educational experience at a university, and without which you would not have anything recognizably like a university. Its disciplines are, by and large, not professionally oriented. They are organized by subject matter. They express that curiosity which we human beings have which drives us to try to understand ourselves and our world as soon as we catch our breath and look up around us. What is the relation between this and work? It is indirect, of course, but powerful. Two observations to begin with. First, it is worth noting that even training in a profession does not prepare one for any particular job. It rather equips one with some specialized knowledge presupposed by most jobs in the field and with general skills applicable to the general category of job. Any job a graduate of a professional school gets requires further job specific training. Second, it is striking how limited is the number of professional schools. There are vastly more things people do than are dreamt of in the professional view of a university education. Now turn to training in one of the non-professional degree programs. What is the relation of this to work? First of all, to put it simply, training in any serious degree program makes you smart. Being smart is the key to success in anything you do. If you have a choice between training that makes you smarter, and training that prepares you to do some particular thing for the rest of your life, take the training that makes you smarter, for then what training you need you can get whether you have it now or not. Second, and more specifically, training may be in

either a mathematics intensive discipline or in a writing intensive discipline (ideally both). Learning the language of mathematics opens up work in technical fields which rely on it. Training in a writing intensive discipline prepares the mind for analytical work more generally, for learning to write well and to think well are inseparable. It is not an accident that people with university educations have greater life opportunities. But it is not because they have been trained for some specific job. It is because they have been trained to think well. That is a by-product of being trained to think well about particular subjects. Why not just get training in thinking well? There is no such thing as thinking well about nothing. And if you want to engage yourself, you should think about something interesting. What about philosophy in particular? Philosophy is a very abstract subject, and it is one of the more difficult ones. It has many values, but one is that it requires exercise of very advanced analytical skills, and very highly developed language skills, the sort mentioned above that are inseparable from being able to think well. Is there evidence for this? Yes. Philosophy majors score higher than any other group on the verbal and analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examination. They score highest among the humanities majors on the quantitative portion of the GRE, and ahead of many mathematics intensive disciplines. Philosophy majors consistently score in the top 4 or 5 in the Graduate Management Admissions Test and above all other humanities and social science majors. Philosophy majors as a group consistently score second highest on the Law School Admission Test. In the job market, ranked by midcareer salaries, rather than starting salaries, philosophy majors do better than all other humanities and social science majors, being outranked only by engineering fields, economics, physics, computer science, math, physician assistant, construction, finance, and management information systems, but ahead of, for example, chemistry, marketing, political science, accounting, architecture, business management, psychology, and so on. This is not a surprising result. If you can think well about philosophical questions, you can think well about things in general.* Now, what is philosophy? Thats an interesting question. Here is the beginning of an answer.

The Uses of Philosophy in Today's World Rick Garlikov Philosophy, in the sense I am discussing it here, is the sustained, systematic, reflective thinking about concepts and beliefs in any subject to see what is clear (i.e., intelligible) and reasonable to believe about it, and why. It differs from science in that it includes the study of more than what is empirical (i.e., physically observable), and in that it tends to examine data and evidence already available, usually trying to put it into a clear and reasonable perspective, rather than to seek new data. Examples of philosophical writing that examine concepts and beliefs about various topics are many of my essays at www.garlikov.com, such as "Guilt and Forgiveness", "Justification of Punishment", "Understanding and Teaching Place-Value", "The Concept of Racial

Profiling", "The Concept of Intimacy", "The Definition of Death", "Scientific Confirmation", "Constitutional Safeguards for Majority Rule", "A Philosophy of Photography", "A Philosophy of Science Logic Problem", or "Five Questions[About Economics]". In normal usage, the terms "philosophy" and "philosophical" have a number of trivial meanings which have nothing to do with the academic subject of philosophy (or the slightly broader sense in which I use it here, that includes thinking more deeply and systematically about topics which may not be found in typical college philosophy department courses), so people tend to misunderstand what philosophy is, and see no point in studying it. "Philosophy" in ordinary language is perhaps most often meant to refer to a set of guidelines, precepts, or to an attitude, such as in comments like "Jones' philosophy is not to worry about the future" or "It is the philosophy of this company that everyone should be able to take over for anyone else in his/her department at a moment's notice; thus it is imperative that you all learn each others' work as well as your own." Or "Our philosophy is all for one and one for all'." In the movie Wall Street the philosophy of the tycoon Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) is that "Greed is good." This use of the term philosophy is sometimes referred to as a "philosophy of life" or a "philosophy of business". It is not related to philosophy in the sense of sustained, systematic, reflective analysis of any topic. A corollary to this usage is to characterize as "philosophical" a specific attitude of acceptance, acquiescence, or submission to whatever happens, perhaps with some interpretive reason, as in "Jones took the news of his dismissal quite philosophically; he said that if the boss didn't want him there, it probably was a place where he wouldn't be happy working long anyway." Or "Smith took the news of the tragedy very philosophically; he said that was just the way life was sometimes and that you had to just accept it and go on or you would go crazy." Or "Johnson was philosophical about the tragedy, saying We just have to trust in God to know what is best for all of us, even if it seems terribly sad at this time; it must all be for the best ultimately.'" This also is not related to philosophy in the sense of sustained, systematic, reflective analysis. A more recent usage that is perhaps becoming more and more common is to equate philosophy with "mere idle speculation", particularly as in "Rather than sitting around merely philosophizing, we decided to do some actual empirical research into the phenomena." Or "There is no point in thinking about this philosophically; we need to find out what the facts are." Or "You can do all the philosophy about the likely result of this you want, but at some point you are going to have to get out of your chair and actually see what happens when you try to do it." In this sense, philosophy is equated

with the kind of pointless thinking about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; it is considered to be a waste of mental energy, for no useful purpose. Loosely associated with this view of philosophy is the one that thinks philosophers are at best merely "book-smart" people who have no common sense because they come up with crackpot beliefs and ideas. While in some cases this may be true, more often it is believed because it is not the reasoning but only the conclusion that is looked at, and it is true that many conclusions philosophers reach are counter-intuitive or odd, or contrary to conventional belief. It is important, however, not to look just at conclusions that people reach, but the evidence and reasons they give for them. That is where insights lie if there are to be any. Thus, in a time of great economic, scientific, and technological advancement, one might mistakenly believe that there is no particular use for philosophy, because it deals with intangible ideas, some seemingly crazy, which cannot be proved scientifically or verified objectively, and which have nothing to do with providing greater creature comforts or material progress. Pragmatists may believe at any time that there is not much use for philosophy and that philosophy is merely about having opinions, opinions which are no better than anyone else's opinions, and of no more value than idle speculation. So what is the use of philosophy? In the first, and narrowest, place, for some people philosophy simply satisfies a personal need or interest. Philosophy is, as it has always been, interesting in its own right for that minority of people who simply like to think, or who are by nature driven to think about, and who appreciate and find great pleasure in discovering insights into, what seem to be intangible or complex issues, great or small. But the tools of philosophy can be important to everyone because it potentially helps one think better, more clearly, and with greater perspective about almost everything. There are numerous specific topic areas in academic philosophy, many of interest only to a few, even among philosophers, but there are features and techniques common to all of them, and it is those features and techniques which also can apply to almost anything in life. These features have to do with reasoning and with understanding concepts, and, to some small extent, withcreativity. Normally, all other things being equal, the better one understands anything and can think clearly and logically about it, the better off one will be, and the better one will be able to act on that understanding and reasoning. (It is my view, for example, that better conceptual understanding by NCAA and NFL administrators would lead to a far more workable and acceptable "instant replay review" policy.) Furthermore, philosophy in many cases is about deciding which goals and values are worthy to pursue -- what ends are important. One can be scientific or pragmatic about

pursuing one's goals in the most efficient manner, but it is important to have the right or most reasonable goals in the first place. Philosophy is a way of scrutinizing ideas about which goals are the most worthy one. A healthy philosophical debate about what is ideal or which ideals ought to be sought and pursued, is important. Efficiency in the pursuit of the wrong values or ends is not a virtue. President John F. Kennedy, in speaking at Amherst College on a day honoring poet Robert Frost, said: "The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the nation's greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us." And "When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. ... for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgement." I believe philosophy could be added to art in these statements to form the following: (1) The people who bring together power with purpose make an indispensable contribution to the nation's greatness, but the people who question power and any particular purpose make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is distinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us, and they determine whether our purpose is meaningful or our power misdirected. (2) When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry and philosophy remind him of the richness and diversity of his existence. ... for art and philosophy establish the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment. It is also important that beliefs and goals be examined, even if they are idealistic; that is, even if society is nowhere near ready to proceed from where they are to some idealistic state. For it is important to know what is most reasonably ideal, and to understand the reasons for thinking it is the ideal, in order to try to make stepwise progress (as society is ready to discover and accept any step in the right direction) and in order to reassess what one thinks is ideal when unexpected social responses show flaws or undesirable side-effect in the concept. For example, welfare and housing for the poor have often run into unexpected difficulties and in some cases have been counterproductive to the desire to help people improve their lives. While the basic goals of helping people escape poverty and substandard housing in order to become productive, secure, and hopeful about their lives may remain ideal, supplying homes or money in certain ways may not be the effective means to that, or may not be the equivalent to it as an end. While science tests hypotheses by empirical means, philosophical pursuit of values and ideals tests concepts of the ideal in two ways: (1) by the debate of differing ideas and values to see what seems most reasonable, and (2) by the constant monitoring of the satisfactoriness and desirability of the stated goal as socially acceptable steps

toward it come into place. Social progress toward an ideal often takes place in small stages, and sometimes flaws in the ideal become visible as the stages are implemented. It takes understanding of the stated values, ends, and means in order to recognize missteps. However, it must be pointed out that there are people trained in philosophy who do not think very well, at least not on all, if any, topics. And there are people who have never had any sort of philosophy or logic course who are quite astute in their thinking in general. The study of philosophy is something like the intellectual equivalent of training in sports. Those with natural talent and no training will often be better than those with training but little natural talent, but proper training should develop and enhance whatever talent most people have to begin with. And it also must be pointed out that not all philosophical writing or thinking is very good, and, perhaps more importantly, not all philosophy courses are very well taught or very good. In fact, there are a great many terribly taught philosophy courses, where students come out having learned very little and/or where they have mostly learned to hate what they think is philosophy and consider it to be stupid. In some cases, however, where teachers are entertaining and articulate, students come out favorably impressed, but still with little or no understanding. Neither of these kinds of courses serve students or philosophy very well, though the latter are at least more enjoyable than the former. So when I talk about the uses of philosophy or about "philosophy" itself, I really mean to be referring to the best of what philosophy has to offer, not necessarily what one might learn in some particular philosophy 101, or even upperclass or graduate level, course, and not necessarily what one might find in a book chosen randomly from the philosophy section of a university library or bookstore. The tools of philosophy are important to individuals and to society because as long as we are not omniscient, factual knowledge by itself is no substitute for philosophy, just as philosophy is no substitute for factual knowledge. Philosophy is about the intelligent and rational uses of knowledge, and it is about the scrutiny of beliefs to see how clear and how reasonable they are in the light of knowledge we have. Knowledge is the substance of philosophy, not its opposite. As I explain in "Words, Pictures, Logic, Ethics, and Not Being God" because there is much we cannot know directly or even by observation, much of our knowledge comes from our use of reason. And philosophy, when done properly, perhaps more than any other field, gives training and practice in the most general and basic elements of reasoning. The essay "Reasoning" explains what reasoning is, how it works, and why it is important. It also explains that it does not always yield the truth or knowledge, but that in certain circumstances, it is the best we can do to try to attain knowledge. In many cases,

reasoning will show us what we need to find out in order to have knowledge about a particular phenomena, by showing us what the gaps are in the knowledge we have. What underlies most philosophy -- particularly perhaps British and American philosophy -- is training and practice in (1) analyzing and understanding concepts, (2) recognizing and showing the significance of hidden, unconscious, or unrealized assumptions, (3) recognizing and remedying various forms of unclear conceptualization and communication, such as vagueness and ambiguity, which are often unintended and at first unrealized (4) drawing reasonable conclusions from whatever evidence is at hand, and (5) recognizing evidence in the first place -- seeing, that is, that some knowledge can serve as evidence for more knowledge and is not just some sort of inert fact or end in itself. These things are, or can be, very important for science, social science, economics, business, and other practical and empirical pursuits, but they are crucial for knowledge about matters of value, interpretation, perspective, and that which is intangible. It turns out that much of science, social science, economics, and business contains elements of the intangible, and questions about values, which can only be dealt with philosophically. Moreover, even the most empirical matters have conceptual components that require careful analysis and understanding. The essays "Scientific Confirmation," "Explanations and PseudoExplanations in Science," "Shedding Light on Time: Learning and Teaching Difficult Concepts," and "More About Fractions Than Anyone Needs To Know" exemplify that. It also seems to me that those who are most successful at analyzing and understanding concepts would also be better at teaching those concepts if (and perhaps only if) they also understand what made those concepts difficult to analyze and understand for them, and/or for others, in the first place. Nobel physicist Richard Feynman had the view that if he could not explain a concept or principle in physics in a way that a college freshman who was interested in physics could understand it, he probably did not understand it himself as well as he thought he did. I think such understanding is often important or even necessary for teaching well, but I am not sure it is sufficient, because one might be able to understand a concept without seeing why or how it might be difficult for other people to understand it. Philosophers, or anyone who has analyzed concepts, ought to have some advantage in teaching them, but that advantage may not be sufficient to teach those concepts to others very well. I have seen philosophers (and others) who were quite good at doing philosophy, not be able to teach it to beginners, simply because they left out too much in their explanations, did not start at a basic enough beginning place, did not wait to see whether there was comprehension before they continued from point to point, did not appreciate how strange or difficult or complex an idea was to the student, did not know how to get points across not only logically but psychologically, and, in short, did not know what

groundwork needed to be done in order to help the student understand and see the significance or meaning of the explanation being given. My long essay "The Concept and Teaching of Place Value" gives an explanation and an example of how understanding a concept, and understanding and appreciating the psychological difficulties of comprehending it, are necessary for teaching it well. Pervasive Philosophical Subject Matter While the application of sytematic thought to any avowedly practical enterprise such as science or business can be productive, it is also unnecessary in the sense that much is often accomplished without it, and what cannot be accomplished without it is often not missed. It only seems important in cases where practical matters come to an impass or where an idea bears such great and obvious practical fruit that it cannot be ignored. But there are pervasive philosophical areas of life that nearly everyone recognizes as important, though perhaps not recognizing them as primarily philosophical in nature, and perhaps not recognizing that they require deeper and more sustained thought than is typically given to them, even by supposed experts. These areas include ethics (moral philosophy -- including value and "meaning of life" issues), logic or reasoning, religion or spirituality, aesthetics and related quality of life issues, and political/governmental/social philosophy, particularly for all those who have a part in government and who are affected by it, including those able to vote in a democratic or representative democracy. While everyone has "opinions" or beliefs about many of these intangible things, there are better and worse opinions, beliefs that are more reasonable or less reasonable than others. Not all opinions or beliefs are equal in quality or in value. One opinion is not necessarily as good or as reasonable as another; is not likely to withstand scrutiny or to be compatible with all the evidence available. Unfortunately in many cases, politicians, bureaucrats, news commentators. idealogues, and the "man on the street" or a majority of people polled", are considered to be experts in areas of social/governmental philosophy, though they usually are not; and ministers or church leaders are often thought to be theologians (or philosophers of religion), which they are not. So a natural hunger for philosophical wisdom is only partially addressed, and not always in the most satisfying, nutritious, or practically useful and advantageous manner. Shallowness in these area is often sufficient as long as it sounds good or seems deep to those who think less or who do not think much for themselves at all. Still the issues are philosophical ones, and they are often recognized as such, even if most do not realize that there are better answers and better ways of thinking about them than they are aware.

Moreover, most people seem to think they "reason" well enough and that any argument that shows otherwise is merely someone else's opinion, and does not need to be considered any further than it takes to ignore, dismiss, or reject it. So although these are areas where people could benefit from philosophy, they usually do not, and do not care to. In that sense philosophy is just of potential benefit. But it is not unlike other, practical, areas of potential benefit that are ignored. When the inventor of the Xerox (photocopy) machine was looking for financial backing, almost all the large business concerns of the day turned him down. The primary reason given was that there was no need for copy machines; we already had carbon paper to make copies of documents. Not only have prominent inventions and scientific ideas been rejected, but so have business ideas and management plans. Many a successful enterprise has resulted from employees going into competition with their former bosses who would not listen to, or could not understand or appreciate, their ideas for innovation. Philosophy is about careful, sustained, and systematic thinking. It is about a willingness to pursue the possible truth and value of ideas and the evidence for them, no matter what conclusions might result or how strange they might initially seem. Philosophy does not always lead to truth or to ideas of great value, but it can. It often has. And the potential always exists. There is much yet to be learned by the application of thought to what is already known or believed to be known.

Types of Philosophy
What is philosophy? From a common perspective it can be defined as the sum of a person's beliefs which guide his actions. However, philosophy as a science is better defined as the examination of belief, or, the process of thinking one's way to a wellgrounded set of beliefs. These beliefs are those of the widest scope including religious creed (theology or metaphysics), code of right and wrong (ethics or morals), political convictions and general scientific principles. Philosophy differs from the special sciences in its range. It is the most general of the sciences and attempts to frame a picture of the whole as opposed to the specialized parts. Our beliefs first come to us by way of authority or suggestion rather than careful reasoning. Literature and drama are two ways philosophy is passed about. Conversation tends to transmit philosophy since nobody can express an idea without communicating something of her general outlook. The study of philosophy is a more deliberate inquiry into the grounds on which our beliefs are held. It holds that we cannot, as human beings, remain satisfied with dumb tenacity in holding our beliefs. There is no virtue in refusing to think about the foundations of belief. It is ridiculous

to think that the capacity for thinking is an inherent vice. Philosophy may be said to have been founded on the famous statement from Socrates that "the unexamined life is not worthy to be lived by a human being". Beliefs about reality is the theme of metaphysics. The establishment of these beliefs is concerned with distinguishing between "appearances" and the true state of nature. Nature can present many misleading appearances such as the fixed location of the stars, the stable quiet of earth, the "firmament" of the sky as well as others. The stick appears bent in the water when in reality it is straight. A piece of wood appears solid when in reality it is a shimmering dance of molecules separated by proportionately vast spaces. Is the physical world as final and substantial as it seems? Death appears to be the end of human personality, is it? We seem to be free agents, are we? There are two kinds of things we take to be real: physical objects and states of mind. The history of thought has been largely controlled by these two views where some take physical objects as reality (materialists) and others take the states of mind as reality (idealists). To the materialists, mind is an appearance of physical reality whereas the idealists see physical objects as an appearance of mental reality. Of course there are other possible alternatives. Mind and physical nature may be manifestations of a third substance which is neither. Or there may be two kinds of reality, material and mental, eternally distinct and irreducible, as is the belief of dualism. Beliefs about better and worse, right and wrong, are the theme of ethics. There are those who view the conditions of human life as intrinsically bad. Our desires are to be distrusted. There is illusion of the will as well as the intellect. This outlook of pessimism is widespread in the Orient, in Brahmanism and in the teachings of Buddha. Opposed to this view is the affirmation of life, or optimism, which believes that the world and man are so adjusted that the attainment of happiness is the normal order of things. The will and the environment are attuned to each other. Furthermore, in the context of the pursuit of happiness is there a need for the concept of duty? Is duty the same as the general obligation to use discretion in the pursuit of the good? Or are there rules which give structure to our conduct and qualify some ways of reaching our ends as definitely right or wrong? If so, what is the source of these rules and are they statically fixed or do they change with the mores of society or cultural patterns? Beliefs about belief is the theme of epistemology, which is concerned with understanding the grounds on which your system of beliefs are based. What are your beliefs based on? Authority? Intuition? Good results? Reason? Some mix of one or all of these? Do you base your beliefs on reason or experience? Do you start from

experience and reason your beliefs from that? Or do you reason a framework for yourself and go about consistently following this framework in your actions? Of course, nobody takes a strictly rational or empirical approach to life. There is always a need for some mix of the two, but persons can be oriented to one approach over the other. Both empiricists and rationalists are both referred to as rationalists in the general sense of the word. However, empiricists typically start with experience and use induction to generate principles from that experience. Strict rationalists start with general theories and generate principles that can then be tested in reality. The only remaining issue between the two approaches is whether there is any general truth which is not somehow born from experience. So this discussion has identified three main branches of philosophy: metaphysics, ethics and epistemology (theory of knowledge). A more complete scheme would include logic, aesthetics and psychology and might be organized as follows: Theoretical Philosophy

Metaphysics: beliefs about reality; Epistemology: beliefs about belief; Logic: the technique of reasoning

Practical Philosophy

Ethics: beliefs about the principles of conduct; Aesthetics: beliefs about the principles of beauty;

Psychology: a natural science of the mind bearing on all branches of philosophy and born by them Beliefs about reality are crucial in the sense that they usually bring other beliefs with them regarding religion, ethics and others. Our beliefs tend to form clusters, hanging from some significant stem-belief. These clusters can be called types of philosophy. Naturalism and Idealism are two of these types. They are metaphysical beliefs but carry different outlooks in ethics, psychology and aesthetics with them. Other clusters of beliefs are formed around the various theories of knowledge. Thus rationalism, pragmatism and intuitionism have specific characteristic tendencies and are also types of philosophy. William James thought that the fundamental parting of the ways of opposing world views has roots in the contrast of temperaments. The "tender-minded" want an architecturally handsome, rationalistic, and idealistic philosophy. The "tough-minded"

prefer a loose-ended, empirical, realistic view. According to Karl Marx, it is not the ethical or esthetic, but the economic prudential and technical interests which govern the rest of our thinking. If these thinkers are right, the most clearly marked types of philosophy should be the contrasts between optimism vs. pessimism, Epicurean vs. Stoic, hedonism vs. duty. A study of the history of philosophy may not bear this out. In most cases ethical differences have followed metaphysical types far more clearly than metaphysical differences have followed ethical types.

ypes of Philosophy
There are many ways to express a philosophical idea; find what those ways are by reading this article!

Philosophy is a branch of culture that takes pride in the fact that it promotes free thinking and it is by definition always open to new ideas. This aspect is also reflected in the many ways in which a philosopher can communicate his thoughts. 1. Oral philosophy - it is the oldest form of philosophy. Its main representative is Socrates, who never wrote anything. The advantages consist in the fact that the speaker can make spontaneous comparisons and at the same time he can be more convincing. However, there is the risk of mutating the information every time it is communicated to another person. 2. Philosophy as a poem - it has its origin in the fact that there was a time when everything was written in rimes. In this case we have the work of Parmenides. Advantage: it can appeal to a larger number of people. Disadvantage: the ideas may not be expressed in a clear manner due to the use of metaphors. 3. Philosophy as a dialog - it can be in either oral or written form. The main examples are of course Platos dialogs. It allows philosophers to develop literary works, because the language of a dialog needs to be expressive in order to convince. Also, a gradually built idea that during the dialog is always promoted can be more convincing to the reader than one that is simply exposed on its own. However, the demonstration is sometimes a bit forced because the creator already knows the idea and he is trying to justify it at any cost.

4. Philosophy expressed as an essay where the word comes from the French "essayer" which means "to try". It is a very spread form of philosophy. Here we have the works of Montaigne. A major drawback is the fact that it is difficult to separate it from other forms of essays. 5. Philosophy as a journal - it is the case of philosophers who present reflection on personal experiences. It is a subjective form of philosophy opposed to objective thinking which uses an abstract language and deals with mans external world. Kierkegaard is famous for expressing his ideas in this manner. He believed that philosophy must reflect the individuals experiences. The main purpose is to live an authentic experience. A written work regarding nature can never take the form of a journal because it searches an objective truth, while in a journal the author exposes his own truth. Moreover, a journal does not require a rigorous demonstration. 6. Philosophy as an aphorism - it is basically a thought expressed in few words. It is the opposite of philosophy as a system. It was used at the beginning of philosophy by the pre-Socratics to capture the profound aspects of the world or to illustrate in a more profound way something already known. But the aphorism was used, in parallel with other form, throughout history. The philosophers who used this form of expression gained fame because aphorisms have great literary value. However, in philosophy the aphorism is insufficient in the demonstration of an idea. 7. Philosophy in letters - there are not ordinary letters because they express important philosophical ideas that cannot be ignored or separated from the doctrine of a philosopher. It is worth mentioning that no philosopher has ever exposed his whole philosophy in letters, but only some aspects that cannot be organized. Philosophy exposed mathematically - there is no secret in the fact that the majority of philosophers were seduced by the clarity and precision of the mathematical language. A very good example in this sense in Descartes who wanted to start from a few basic truths and then advance by using mathematical inspired method to reach other more complex truths. 8. Philosophy as a system - it is the form that captures the very essence of philosophy. The history of philosophy can actually be considered a succession of philosophical systems. Every philosophical system develops around a central general idea and tries to justify it. Some critics complain

that philosophy as a system is too theoretical with almost no link to experience. However, every important piece of philosophical work tends to take the shape of a system. Every form of philosophy presented above has its advantages and its limits. The most important thing is that whatever form is being used the essence of philosophy that separates it from other forms of culture must be protected and respected.

Philosophy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe, and about people. A philosophy is a group of ideas, worked out by a philosopher (someone who has studied ways of thinking about the world). The ideas in philosophy are abstract, which means that they are "things that cannot be touched." But this does not mean that philosophy is not about the real world. Ethics, for example, asks what we should do in our everyday lives, and metaphysics asks about how the world works and of what it is made. Sometimes people talk about how they have a "personal philosophy", which means the way a person thinks about the world. This article isnot about people's "personal philosophies." This article is about the ideas that have been thought about by philosophers (people who think and write about ways of thinking) for a long time. For thousands of years philosophers have asked questions, such as:

What is good? What is beautiful? Do we have free will? Does God exist? Does the world around us exist? What is a person? What is truth? What is evil? What is the relationship between mind and body?

These ideas and questions from philosophy, and many more, have formed a large body of questions and knowledge that are written down inbooks. There are many different types of philosophy from different times and places. Some philosophers came from Ancient Greece, such as Platoand Aristotle. Others came from Asia, such as Confucius or Buddha. Some philosophers are from the Middle Ages in Europe, such asWilliam of Ockham or Saint Thomas Aquinas. Philosophers from the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s included Thomas Hobbes, Ren Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Philosophers from the 1900s included Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jean-Paul Sartre.

ntroduction
Philosophy is the study of humans and the world by thinking and asking questions. It is a science and an art. Philosophy tries to answer important questions by coming up with answers about real things and asking "why?" Sometimes, philosophy tries to answer the same questions as religion and science. Philosophers do not all come up with the same answers to questions. Some people think there are no right answers in philosophy, only better answers and worse answers. Philosophy is a way of thinking in the "middle-ground" that is between science and religion. Many types of philosophy criticize or even attack the beliefs of science and religion. [change]The

questions Immanuel Kant asked

In his work Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant asked the following questions:[1] 1. 2. 3. 4. What can I know? What shall I do? What dare I hope? What is man?

The answers to these questions gives the different domains or categories of philosophy. [change]Categories

in philosophy

Philosophy can be divided into different groups, based on the types of questions that it asks. Below is a list of questions split into groups. One possible list of answers to these questions can be called a 'philosophy'. There are many different 'philosophies', because all of these questions have many different answers according to different people. Not all philosophies ask the same questions. These are the questions that are usually asked by philosophers from Europe: In metaphysics: Metaphysics is sometimes split up into ontology (the philosophy of real life and living things), the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion; but these sub-branches are very close together. Ontology: What is the world that we see around us? (What is reality?) Is there more to the world than just what we see or hear? If nobody sees something happening, does that mean that it did not happen? What does it mean to say that something is possible? Do other worlds exist? Is there anything very special about being a human being or being alive at all? If not, why do some people think that there is? What is space? What is time?

The philosophy of mind: What is a mind? What is a body? What is consciousness? Do people make choices, or can they only choose to do one thing? (Do people have free will?)

What makes words or ideas meaningful? (What is the relation between meaningful words or ideas and the things that they mean?)

The philosophy of religion:


Do people have souls? Is there a God who created the Universe?

In epistemology:

What is knowledge? How can we know anything? What is science? What is truth?

In ethics:

What are right and wrong, good and bad? Should people do some things and not others? What is justice?

In aesthetics: What is beauty? What if one person thinks a painting is beautiful, but another person thinks the painting is ugly? Can the painting be beautiful and ugly at the same time? Are true things beautiful? Are good things beautiful? What is art? We commonly think that a sculpture in a museum is art. If a sculptor sculpts a sculpture of a rock from clay, and puts it in a museum, many people would call it art. But what if a person picks up a rock from the ground - is the rock a piece of art?

In logic:

What do the words we use mean?

How can we say things (especially ideas) in a way that only has one meaning? Can all ideas be expressed using language? What is truth?

In axiology:

What has Value? Is time really money? or have we made it so? Does love, beauty, or justice hold any value?

[change]Is

philosophy good or bad?

Does philosophy do any good? Very few people would dispute this. It is easy to argue that philosophy is a good thing, because it helps people to think more clearly. Philosophy helps people to understand the world and the way people act and think. Philosophers believe that asking philosophical questions is useful because it brings wisdom and helps people to learn about the world and each other. Some philosophers might even argue that the question "Is philosophy good or bad?" is a philosophical question itself. However, some people think that philosophy is harmful, as philosophy encourages free-thinking and often questions the beliefs that others hold. For example, philosophies such as some existentialist views say that there is no meaning to life or human existence, except the meaning that we make up or invent. People from some religions do not agree with the beliefs of existentialism. It should be noted that every major science, including physics, biology, and chemistry are all disciplines that originally were considered philosophy. As speculation and analysis about nature became more developed, these subjects branched away. This is a process that continues even today; psychology only split in the past century. In our own time, subjects such as consciousness studies, decision theory, and applied ethics have increasingly found independence from philosophy as a whole. Because of this, philosophy seems useful because it makes new kinds of science!

[change]What

philosophers do

Philosophers ask questions about ideas. They try to find answers to those questions. Some thinkers find it very hard to find those words that best describe the ideas they have. When they find answers to some of these questions philosophers often have the same problem, that is how to best tell the answers they found to other people. Depending on the meaning of the words they use, the answers change. Some philosophers are full-time thinkers (called academics), who work for universities or colleges. These philosophers write books and articles about philosophy and teach classes about philosophy to university or college students. Other philosophers are just "hobby" thinkers who think about philosophy during their free time. A small number of hobby thinkers have thought so much about philosophy that they are able to write articles for philosophy magazines. Other people approach philosophy from another job. For example monks, artists, and scientists may think about philosophical ideas and questions. Most philosophers work by asking questions and looking for good definitions (meanings) of words to help them understand what a question means. Some philosophers say the only thing needed to answer a question is to find out what it means, and that the only thing that makes philosophical questions such as those above difficult is that people do not really know what they mean (for example Ludwig Wittgenstein). Philosophers will also often use both real and imaginary examples to make a point. For example, they may write about a real or fictional person in order to show what they think a good person or a bad person is like. Some philosophers look for the simplest way to answer a question and say that is probably the right answer. This is a process calledOccam's razor. Others believe that complicated answers to questions can also be right. For an example of a philosophical problem, see theGod paradox.

Branches of Philosophy
Thirteen Different Fields of Philosophical Inquiry
By Austin Cline, About.com Guide

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Instead of being treated as a single, unified subject, philosophy is typically broken down into a number of specialties and it is common for contemporary philosophers to be experts in one field but know little about another. After all, philosophy addresses complex issues from all facets of life - being an expert on all of philosophy would entail being an expert on all of the most fundamental questions which life has to offer. This doesn't mean that each branch of philosophy is entirely autonomous - there is often much overlap between some fields, in fact. For example, political and legal philosophy often cross with ethics and morality, while metaphysical questions are common topics in the philosophy of religion. Sometimes even deciding which branch of philosophy a question properly belongs in isn't very clear.

Aesthetics This is the study of beauty and taste, whether in the form of the comic, the tragic, or the sublime. The word comes from the Greek aisthetikos, "of sense perception." Aesthetics has traditionally been part of other philosophical fields like epistemology or ethics but it started to come into its own and become a more independent field under Immanuel Kant. Epistemology Epistemology is the study of the grounds and nature of knowledge itself. Epistemological studies usually focus upon our means for acquiring knowledge; thus modern epistemology generally involves a debate between rationalism and empiricism, or the question of whether knowledge can be acquired a priori or a posteriori. Ethics Ethics is the formal study of moral standards and conduct and is also often called "moral philosophy." What is good? What is evil? How should I behave - and why? How should I balance my needs against the needs of others? These are some of the questions asked in the field of ethics. Logic and the Philosophy of Language These two fields are often treated separately, but they are close enough that they are presented together here. Logic is the study of methods of reasoning and argumentation, both proper and improper. The Philosophy of Language involves the study of how our language interacts with our thinking. Metaphysics In Western philosophy this field has become the study of the fundamental nature of all reality - what is it, why is it, and how are we to understand it. Some only regard metaphysics as the study of "higher" reality or the "invisible" nature behind everything, but that isn't actually true. It is, instead, the study of all of reality, visible and invisible. Philosophy of Education This field deals with how children should be educated, what they should be educated in, and what the ultimate purpose of education should be for society. This is an often neglected field of philosophy and is often addressed only be in educational programs designed to train teachers - in that context, it is a part of pedagogy, which is learning how to teach. Philosophy of History The Philosophy of History is a relatively minor branch in the field of philosophy, focusing on the study of history, writing about history, how history progresses, and what impact history has upon the present day. This is can be referred to as the Critical, Analytical, or Formal Philosophy of History, as well as the Philosophy of Historiography. Philosophy of Mind The relatively recent specialty known as Philosophy of Mind deals with the consciousness and how it interacts with the body and the outside world. It

asks not only what mental phenomena are and what gives rise to them, but also what relationship they have to the larger physical body and the world around us. Philosophy of Religion Sometimes confused with theology, the Philosophy of Religion is the philosophical study of religious beliefs, religious doctrines, religious arguments and religious history. The line between theology and the philosophy of religion isn't always sharp because they share so much in common, but the primary difference is that theology tends to be apologetical in nature, committed to the defense of particular religious positions, whereas Philosophy of Religion is committed to the investigation of religion itself rather than the truth of any particular religion. Philosophy of Science This is concerned with how science operates, what the goals of science should be, what relationship science should have with society, the differences between science and other activities, etc. Everything that happens in science has some relationship with the Philosophy of Science and is predicated upon some philosophical position, even though that may be rarely evident. Political and Legal Philosophy These two fields are often studied separately, but they are presented here jointly because they both come back to the same thing: the study of force. Politics is the study of political force in the general community while jurisprudence is the study of how laws can and should be used to achieve political and social goals.

THE FIELD OF PHILOSOPHY Special Fields of Philosophy Many branches of philosophy have grown from the traditional core areas. What follows is a sketch of some of the major ones. Philosophy of Mind. This subfield has emerged from metaphysical concerns with the mind and mental phenomena. The philosophy of mind addresses not only the possible relations of the mental to the physical (for instance, to brain processes), but the many concepts having an essential mental element: belief, desire, emotion, feeling, sensation, passion, will, personality, and others. A number of major questions in the philosophy of mind cluster in the area of action theory: What differentiates actions, such as raising an arm, from mere body movements, such as the rising of an arm? Must mental elements, for example intentions and beliefs, enter into adequate explanations of our actions, or can actions be explained by appeal to ordinary physical events? And what is required for our actions to be free?

Philosophy of Religion. Another traditional concern of metaphysics is to understand the concept of God, including special attributes such as being all-knowing, being all-powerful, and being wholly good. Both metaphysics and epistemology have sought to assess the various grounds people have offered to justify believing in God. The philosophy of religion treats these topics and many related subjects, such as the relation between faith and reason, the nature of religious language, the relation of religion and morality, and the question of how a God who is wholly good could allow the existence of evil. Philosophy of Science. This is probably the largest subfield generated by epistemology. Philosophy of science is usually divided into philosophy of the natural sciences and philosophy of the social sciences. It has recently been divided further, into philosophy of physics, biology, psychology, economics, and other sciences. Philosophy of science clarifies both the quest for scientific knowledge and the results yielded by that quest. It does this by exploring the logic of scientific evidence; the nature of scientific laws, explanations, and theories; and the possible connections among the various branches of science. How, for instance, is psychology related to brain biology, and biology to chemistry? And how are the social sciences related to the natural sciences. Subfields of Ethics. From ethics, too, have come major subfields. Political Philosophy concerns the justificationand limitsof governmental control of individuals; the meaning of equality before the law; the basis of economic freedom; and many other problems concerning government. It also examines the nature and possible arguments for various competing forms of political organization, such as laissez-faire capitalism, welfare democracy (capitalistic and socialistic), anarchism, communism, and fascism. Social Philosophy, often taught in combination with political philosophy (which it overlaps), treats moral problems with large-scale social dimensions. Among these are the basis of compulsory education, the possible grounds for preferential treatment of minorities, the justice of taxation, and the appropriate limits, if any, on free expression in the arts. The Philosophy of Law explores such topics as what law is, what kinds of laws there are, how law is or should be related to morality, and what sorts of principles should govern punishment and criminal justice in general. Medical Ethics addresses many problems arising in medical practice and medical science. Among these are standards applying to physician-patient relationships; moral questions raised by special procedures, such as abortion and ceasing of life-support for terminal patients; and ethical standards for medical research, for instance genetic engineering and experimentation using human subjects. Business Ethics addresses such questions as how moral obligations may conflict with the profit motive and how these conflicts may be resolved. Other topics often pursued are the nature and scope of the social responsibilities of corporations, their rights in a free society, and their relations to other institutions. Philosophy of Art (Aesthetics). This is one of the oldest subfields. It concerns the nature of art, including both the performing arts and painting, sculpture, and literature. Major questions in aesthetics include how artistic creations are to be interpreted and evaluated, and how the arts are related to one another, to natural beauty, and to morality, religion, science, and other important elements of human life. Philosophy of Language. This field has close ties to both epistemology and metaphysics. It treats a broad spectrum of questions about language: the nature of meaning, the relations between words and things, the various theories of language learning, and the distinction between literal and figurative uses of language. Since language is crucial in nearly all human activity, the philosophy of language can enhance our understanding both of other academic fields and of much of what we ordinarily do.

Other Subfields. There are many other subfields of philosophy, and it is in the nature of philosophy as critical inquiry to develop new subfields when new directions in the quest for knowledge, or in any other area of human activity, raise new intellectual problems. Among the subfields not yet mentioned, but often taught at least as part of other courses, are Inductive Logic, Philosophy of Logic, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Medicine,Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Feminism, Philosophy of Linguistics, Philosophy of Criticism, Philosophy of Culture, andPhilosophy of Film.

Introduction to Philosophy: Defining, Studying, Doing Philosophy is Important


Why Do Atheists Need Philosophy? We Need to Reason Well About Life & Society
By Austin Cline, About.com Guide

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Defining and explaining philosophy is no easy task the very nature of the subject seems to defy description. The problem is that philosophy, in one way or another, ends up touching upon nearly every aspect of human life. Philosophy has something to say when it comes to science, art,

religion, politics, medicine, and a host of other topics. This is also why a basic grounding in philosophy can be so important for irreligious atheists. The more you know about philosophy, and even just the basics of philosophy, the more likely you'll be able to reason clearly, consistently, and with more reliable conclusions. First, any time atheists get involved in debating religion or theism with believers, they end up either touching upon or getting deeply involved with several different branches of philosophy metaphysics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, philosophy of history, logic, ethics, etc. This is inevitable and anyone who knows more about these subjects, even if it's just the basics, will do a better job at making a case for their position, at understanding what others are saying, and at arriving at a fair, reasonable conclusion. Second, even if a person never gets involved in any debates, they still need to arrive at some conception about their life, what life means to them, what they should do, how they should behave, etc. Religion typically presents all of this in a neat package that people can just open up and start using; irreligious atheists, however, generally need to work a lot of these things out for themselves. You can't do that if you can't reason clearly and consistently. This involves not just the various branches of philosophy, but also various philosophical schools or systems where gods are unnecessary: Existentialism, Nihilism, Humanism, etc. Most people and most irreligious atheists manage to get by without any specific or formal study of anything in philosophy, so obviously it isn't absolutely and unquestionably necessary. At least some understanding of philosophy should make it all easier, however, and will definitely open up more options, more possibilities, and thus perhaps make things better in the long run. You don't need to be a philosophy student, but you should familiarize yourself with the basics and there's nothing more basic than understanding what "philosophy" is in the first place. Defining Philosophy Philosophy comes from the Greek for "love of wisdom," giving us two important starting points: love (or passion) and wisdom (knowledge, understanding). Philosophy sometimes seems to be pursued without passion as if it were a technical subject like engineering or mathematics. Although there is a role for dispassionate research, philosophy must derive from some passion for the ultimate goal: a reliable, accurate understanding ourselves and our world. This is also what atheists should seek.

Why is Philosophy Important? Why should anyone, including atheists, care about philosophy? Many think of philosophy as an idle, academic pursuit, never amounting to anything of practical value. If you look at the works of ancient Greek philosophers, they were asking the same questions which philosophers ask today. Doesn't this mean that philosophy never gets anywhere and never accomplishes anything? Aren't atheists wasting their time by studying philosophy and philosophical reasoning? Studying and Doing Philosophy The study of philosophy is usually approached in one of two different ways: the systematic or topical method and the historical or biographical method. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and it is often beneficial to avoid focusing on one to the exclusions of the other, at least whenever possible. For irreligious atheists, though, the focus should probably be more on the topical than on the biographical method because that will provide clear overviews of relevant issues.

The Field of Philosophy


Introduction

Philosophy is quite unlike any other field. It is unique both in its methods and in the nature and breadth of its subject matter. Philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavour. No brief definition expresses the richness and variety of philosophy. It may be described in many ways. It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one's ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one's sense of the meaning and variety of human experience. This short description of philosophy could be greatly expanded, but let us instead illustrate some of the points. As the systematic study of ideas and issues, philosophy may examine concepts and views drawn from science, art, religion, poitics, or any other realm. Philosophical appraisal of ideas and issues takes many forms, but

philosophical studies often focus on the meaning of an idea and on its basis, coherence, and relations to other ideas. Consider, for instance, democracy. What is it? What justifies it as a system of government? Can a democracy allow the people to vote away their own rights? And how is it related to political liberty? Consider human knowledge. What is its nature and extent? Must we always have evidence in order to know? What can we know about the thoughts and feelings of others, or about the future? What kind of knowledge, if any, is fundamental? Similar kinds of questions arise concerning art, morality, religion, science, and each of the major areas of human activity. Philosophy explores all of them. It views them both microscopically and from the wide perspective of the larger concerns of human existence.
Traditional Subfields of Philosophy

The broadest subfields of philosophy are most commonly taken to be logic, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology and the history of philosophy. Here is a brief sketch of each. Logic is concerned to provide sound methods for distinguishing good from bad reasoning. It helps us assess how well our premises support our conclusions, to see what we are committed to accepting when we take a view, and to avoid adopting beliefs for which we lack adequate reasons. Logic also helps us to find arguments where we might otherwise simply see a set of loosely related statements, to discover assumptions we did not know we were making, and to formulate the minimum claims we must establish if we are to prove (or inductively support) our point. Click here for more on what logic is and why philosophers study it. Ethics takes up the meanings of our moral conceptssuch as right action, obligation and justiceand formulates principles to guide moral decisions, whether in private or public life. What are our moral obligations to others? How can moral disagreements be rationally settled? What rights must a just society accord its citizens? What constitutes a valid excuse for wrong-doing? Metaphysics seeks basic criteria for determining what sorts of things are real. Are there mental, physical, and abstract things

(such as numbers), for instance, or is there just the physical and the spiritual, or merely matter and energy? Are persons highly complex physical systems, or do they have properties not reducible to anything physical? Epistemology concerns the nature and scope of knowledge. What does it mean to know (the truth), and what is the nature of truth? What sorts of things can be known, and can we be justified in our beliefs about what goes beyond the evidence of our senses, such as the inner lives of others or events of the distant past? Is there knowledge beyond the reach of science? What are the limits of selfknowledge? The History of Philosophy studies both major philosophers and entire periods in the development of philosophy such as the Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Nineteenth Century, and Twentieth Century periods. It seeks to understand great figures, their influence on others, and their importance for contemporary issues. The history of philosophy in a single nation is often separately studied, as in the case of American Philosophy. So are major movements within a nation, such as British Empiricism and German Idealism, as well as international movements with a substantial history, such as existentialism and phenomenology. The history of philosophy not only provides insight into the other subfields of philosophy; it also reveals many of the foundations of Western Civilization. Click here for a chronological map of the great philosophers.
Special Fields of Philosophy

Many branches of philosophy have grown from the traditional core areas. What follows is a sketch of some of the major ones. Philosophy of Mind. This subfield has emerged from metaphysical concerns with the mind and mental phenomena. The philosophy of mind addresses not only the possible relations of the mental to the physical (for instance, to brain processes), but the many concepts having an essential mental element: belief, desire, emotion, feeling, sensation, passion, will, personality, and others. A number of major questions in the philosohy of mind cluster in the area of action theory: What differentiates actions, such as raising an arm, from

mere body movements, such as the rising of an arm? Must mental elements, for example intentions and beliefs, enter into adequate explanations of our actions, or can actions be explained by appeal to ordinary physical events? And what is required for our actions to be free? Philosophy of Religion. Another traditional concern of metaphysics is to understand the concept of God, including special attributes such as being all-knowing, being all-powerful, and being wholly good. Both metaphysics and epistemology have sought to assess the various grounds people have offered to justify believing in God. The philosophy of religion treats these topics and many related subjects, such as the relation between faith and reason, the nature of religious language, the relation of religion and morality, and the question of how a God who is wholly good could allow the existence of evil. Philosophy of Science. This is probably the largest subfield generated by epistemology. Philosophy of science is usually divided into philosophy of the natural sciences and philosophy of the social sciences. It has recently been divided further, into philosophy of physics, biology, psychology, economics, and other sciences. Philosophy of science clarifies both the quest for scientific knowledge and the results yielded by that quest. It does this by exploring the logic of scientific evidence; the nature of scientific laws, explanations, and theories; and the possible connections among the various branches of science. How, for instance, is psychology related to brain biology, and biology to chemistry? And how are the social sciences related to the natural sciences? Subfields of Ethics. From ethics, too, have come major subfields. Political Philosophy concerns the justificationand limitsof governmental control of individuals; the meaning of equality before the law; the basis of economic freedom; and many other problems concerning government. It also examines the nature and possible arguments for various competing forms of political organization, such as laissez-faire capitalism, welfare democracy (capitalistic and socialistic), anarchism, communism, and fascism. Social Philosophy, often taught in combination with

political philosophy (which it overlaps), treats moral problems with large-scale social dimensions. Among these are the basis of compulsory education, the possible grounds for preferential treatment of minorities, the justice of taxation, and the appropriate limits, if any, on free expression in the arts. The Philosophy of Law explores such topics as what law is, what kinds of laws there are, how law is or should be related to morality, and what sorts of principles should govern punishment and criminal justice in general. Medical Ethics addresses many problems arising in medical practice and medical science. Among these are standards applying to physician-patient relationships; moral questions raised by special procedures, such as abortion and ceasing of life-support for terminal patients; and ethical standards for medical research, for instance genetic engneering and experimentation using human subjects. Business Ethicsaddresses such questions as how moral obligations may conflict with the profit motive and how these conflicts may be resolved. Other topics often pursued are the nature and scope of the social responsibilities of corporations, their rights in a free society, and their relations to other institutions. Philosophy of Art (Aesthetics). This is one of the oldest subfields. It concerns the nature of art, including both the performing arts and painting, sculpture, and literature. Major questions in aesthetics include how artistic creations are to be interpreted and evaluated, and how the arts are related to one another, to natural beauty, and to morality, religion, science, and other important elements of human life. Philosophy of Language. This field has close ties to both epistemology and metaphysics. It treats a broad spectrum of questions about language: the nature of meaning, the relations between words and things, the various theories of language learning, and the distinction between literal and figurative uses of language. Since language is crucial in nearly all human activity, the philosophy of language can enhance our understanding both of other academic fields and of much of what we ordinarily do. Other Subfields. There are many other subfields of philosophy, and it is in the nature of philosophy as critical inquiry to develop

new subfields when new directions in the quest for knowledge, or in any other area of human activity, raise new intellectual problems. Among the subfields not yet mentioned, but often taught at least as part of other courses, are Inductive Logic, Philosophy of Logic, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Feminism, Philosophy of Linguistics, Philosophy of Criticism, Philosophy of Culture, and Philosophy of Film. Click here for a map of the major branches of philosophy.
The Uses of Philosophy
General Uses of Philosophy

Much of what is learned in philosophy can be applied in virtually any endeavour. This is both because philosophy touches on so many subjects and, especially, because many of its methods are usable in any field. General Problem Solving. The study of philosophy enhances, in a way no other activity does, one's problem-solving capacities. It helps one to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments and problems. It contributes to one's capacity to organize ideas and issues, to deal with questions of value, and to extract what is essential from masses of information. It helps one both to distinguish fine differences between views and to discover common ground between opposing positions. And it helps one to synthesize a variety of views or perspectives into a unified whole. Communication Skills. Philosophy also contributes uniquely to the development of expressive and communicative powers. It provides some of the basic tools of self-expressionfor instance, skills in presenting ideas through well-constructed, systematic arguments that other fields either do not use, or use less extensively. It helps one to express what is distinctive of one's view; enhances one's ability to explain difficult material; and helps one to eliminate ambiguities and vagueness from one's writing and speech.

Persuasive Powers. Philosophy provides training in the construction of clear formulations, good arguments, and apt examples. It thereby helps one develop the ability to be convincing. One learns to build and defend one's own views, to appreciate competing positions, and to indicate forcefully why one considers one's own views preferable to alternatives. These capacities can be developed not only through reading and writing in philosophy, but also through the philosophicaldialogue, in and outside the classroom, that is so much a part of a thoroughgoing philosophical education. Writing Skills. Writing is taught intensively in many philosophy courses, and many regularly assigned philosophical texts are unexcelled as literary essays. Philosophy teaches interpretive writing through its examination of challenging texts, comparative writing through emphasis on fairness to alternative positions, argumentative writing through developing students' ability to establish their own views, and descriptive writing through detailed portrayal of concrete examples: the anchors to which generalizations must be tied. Strucure and technique, then, are emphasized in philosophical writing. Originality is also encouraged, and students are generally urged to use their imagination and develop their own ideas.
The Uses of Philosophy in Educational Pursuits

The general uses of philosophy just described are obviously of great academic value. It should be clear that the study of philosophy has intrinsic rewards as an unlimited quest for understanding of important, challenging problems. But philosophy has further uses in deepening an education, both in college and in the many activities, professional and personal, that follow graduation. Understanding Other Disciplines. Philosophy is indispensable for this. Many important questions about a discipline, such as the nature of its concepts and its relation to other disciplines, do not belong to that discipline, are not usually pursued in it, and are philosophical in nature. Philosophy of science, for instance, is needed to supplement the understanding of the natural and social sciences which one derives from scientific work itself. Philosophy of

literature and philosophy of history are of similar value in understanding the humanities, and philosophy of art is important in understanding the arts. Philosophy is, moreover, essential in assessing the various standards of evidence used by other disciplines. Since all fields of knowledge employ reasoning and must set standards of evidence, logic and epistemology have a general bearing on all these fields. Development of Sound Methods of Research and Analysis. Still another value of philosophy in education is its contribution to one's capacity to frame hypotheses, do research, and put problems into manageable form. Philosophical thinking strongly emphasizes clear formulation of ideas and problems, selection of relevant data, and objective methods for assessing ideas and proposals. It also emphasizes development of a sense of the new directions suggested by the hypotheses and questions one encounters in doing research. Philosophers regularly build on both the successes and failures of their predecessors. A person with philosophical training can readily learn to do the same in any field.
The Uses of Philosophy in Non-Academic Careers

It should be stressed immediately that the non-academic value of a field of study must not be viewed mainly in terms of its contribution to obtaining one's first job after graduation. Students are understandably preoccupied with getting their first job, but even from a narrow vocational point of view it would be short-sighted to concentrate on that at the expense of developing potential for success and advancement once hired. What gets graduates initially hired may not yield promotions or carry them beyond their first position, particularly given how fast the needs of many employers alter with changes in social and economic patterns. It is therefore crucial to see beyond what a job description specifically calls for. Philosophy need not be mentioned among a job's requirements in order for the benefits derivable from philosophical study to beappreciated by the employer, and those benefits need not even be explicitly appreciated in order to be effective in helping one advance.

It should also be emphasized here thatas recent studies show employers want, and reward, many of the capacities which the study of philosophy develops: for instance, the ability to solve problems, to communicate, to organize ideas and issues, to assess pros and cons, and to boil down complex data. These capacities represent transferable skills. They are transferable not only from philosophy to non-philosophy areas, but from one non-philosophical field to another. For that reason, people trained in philosophy are not only prepared to do many kinds of tasks; they can also cope with change, or even move into new careers, more readily than others. Regarding current trends in business, a writer in the New York Times reported that "businessmen are coming to appreciate an education that at its best produces graduates who can write and think clearly and solve problems" (June 23, 1981). A recent longterm study by the Bell Telephone Company, moreover, determined that majors in liberal arts fields, in which philosophy is a central discipline, "continue to make a strong showing in managerial skills and have experienced considerable business success" (Career Patterns, by Robert E. Beck). The study concluded that "there is no need for liberal arts majors to lack confidence in approaching business careers". A related point is made by a Senior Vice President of the American Can Company: Students with any academic background are prepared for business when they can educate themselves and can continue to grow without their teachers, when they have mastered techniques of scholarship and discipline, and when they are challenged to be all they can be. (Wall Street Journal, February 2, 1981.) As all this suggests, there are people trained in philosophy in just about every field. They have gone not only into such professions as teaching (at all levels), medicine, and law, but into computer science, management, publishing, sales, criminal justice, public relations, and other fields. Some professionally trained philosophers are also on legislative staffs, and the work of some of them, for a senior congressman, prompted him to say:

It seems to me that philosophers have acquired skills which are very valuable to a member of Congress. The ability to analyze a problem carefully and consider it from many points of view is one. Another is the ability to communicate ideas clearly in a logically compelling form. A third is the ability to handle the many different kinds of problems which occupy the congressional agenda at any time. (Lee H. Hamilton, 9th District, Indiana, March 25, 1982.) In emphasizing the long-range benefits of training in philosophy, whether through a major or through only a sample of courses in the field, there are a least two further points to note. The first concerns the value of philosophy for vocational training. The second applies to the whole of life. First, philosophy can yield immediate benefits for students planning postgraduate work. As law, medical, business, and other professional school faculty and admissions personnel have often said, philosophy is excellent preparation for the training and later careers of the professionals in question. In preparing to enter such fields as computer science, management, or public administration, which, like medicine, have special requirements for post-graduate study, a student may of course major (or minor) both in philosophy and some other field. The second point here is that the long-range value of philosophical study goes far beyond its contribution to one's livelihood. Philosophy broadens the range of things one can understand and enjoy. It can give one self-knowledge, foresight, and a sense of direction in life. It can provide, to one's reading and conversation, special pleasures of insight. It can lead to self-discovery, expansion of consciousness, and self-renewal. Through all of this, and through its contribution to one's expressive powers, it nurtures individuality and self-esteem. Its value for one's private life can be incalculable; its benefits for one's public life as a citizen can be immeasurable.
Conclusion

Philosophy is the systematic study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and

much more. Every domain of human experience raises questions to which its techniques and theories apply, and its methods may be used in the study of any subject or the pursuit of any vocation. Indeed, philosophy is in a sense inescapable: life confronts every thoughtful person with some philosophical questions, and nearly everyone is guided by philosophical assumptions, even if unconsciously. One need not be unprepared. To a large extent one can choose how reflective one will be in carifying and developing one's philosophical assumptions, and how well prepared one is for the philosophical quesions life presents. Philosophical training enhances our problem-solving capacities, our abilities to understand and express ideas, and our persuasive powers. It also develops understanding and enjoyment of things whose absence impoverishes many lives: such things as aesthetic experience, communication with many different kinds of people, lively discussion of current issues, the discerning observation of human behavior, and intellectual zest. In these and other ways the study of philosophy contributes immeasurably in both academic and other pursuits. The problem-solving, analytical, judgemental, and synthesizing capacities philosophy develops are unrestricted in their scope and unlimited in their usefulness. This makes philosophy especially good preparation for positions of leadership, responsibility, or management. A major or minor in philosophy can easily be integrated with requirements for nearly any entry-level job; but philosophical training, particularly in its development of many transferable skills, is especially significant for its long-term benefits in career advancement. Wisdom, leadership, and the capacity to resolve human conflicts cannot be guaranteed by any course of study; but philosophy has traditionally pursued these ideals systematically, and its methods, its literature, and its ideas are of constant use in the quest to realize them. Sound reasoning, critical thinking, well constructed prose, maturity of judgement, a strong sense of relevance, and an enlightened consciousness are never obsolete, nor are they subject to the fluctuating demands of the market-place. The study of

philosophy is the most direct route, and in many cases the only route, to the full developent of these qualities.

The Process of Philosophy


Introduction This material presented on this page comprises a series of observations/dialogue referring to the way in which the human mind processes and experiences philosophy, and how that process and its consequences relates to the rest of being. The material originates from voluntary collaborative work, undertaken by a group in pursuance of the exploration of fundamental behaviours, in June 2001. A tidied up synopsis of the material explored is presented followed by a rough, colloquial transcript of the original 'as it happened'. Although this page will quite adequately 'stand alone', the serious reader may find it useful to study it in conjunction with the closely associated pages on patterning, knowledge and science - all of which are available via the links. Synopsis The Epimistology of Philosophy and its Interaction With Knowledge 'What is the process of philosophy that works within us, and does it provide security of the brain?' a) The word 'philosophy' derives from philos - love, and sophia - truth in the Greek. Hence the academic use of the word by those who would claim to 'love' 'truth' & then go on to hold interminable discussions based on the assumption that they can find and 'love' truth through words somehow. b) we have to take on the academic aspects (but process only remember) since various 'academic' philosophies underpin our thought processes c) basic tenet of most philosophical systems is that by thinking and manipulating symbols (e.g. language) one can come upon 'truth' That's their raw process.

d) why was that basic assumption made? or why do we continue to make it? What other tool do we have? e) definitions, irrespective of whether the subsequent symbol manipulations are words or otherwise, are made in commonly agreed (ha!) word forms we call language. Stage 1) definition? f) in setting down basic assumptions as starting points, a system of knowledge or images of views is implied AND furthermore, for academic rigour, a carefully and explicitly agreed exact views. As discussed in the 'knowledging' dialogue, such are impossible g) there is yet another assumption here if the philosophical process claims to ascertain 'truth' - that is apriori that 'truth' is amenable to thinking and symbolism and can be represented as such. Does the question: 'what is truth' ever get asked one wonders. h) the associated assumption is that there is even such a thing as "truth". j) It seems these assumptions are made as a matter of course and that does and that the answer is what we settle for... truth is what we 'think' is what we get: apparently a circular process. k) further assumption here is that the participants know whent they have proven their 'truth' by recognising that they have come to it. How do they know they have achived 'truth' or 'proff' of their propositions? l) it is done by vertification of the assumption made at the outset, truth is determined by the process of definition through language of some kind. m) academically a philosopher makes a formal argument. this is done by establishing premises [premise=previous statement from which another statement is inferred], which taken together step by step lead to a conclusion. n) It's clear that if we look for truth in thought (knowledge as previouslty discussed, assumption, assertion and hence premise - all of which may be accurate or otherwise) we will come up with assumptions and more thinking... so thinking (as a process of

the manip[ulation of knowledge or image) may not lead to truth at all. p) One thing all this depends upon is language of some kind (and that needs agreeing a lot of the time), symbol and common knowledge (common to the participants or thinker and audience). Each 'philosophy' therefore is a product of its supporting culture. q) to generalise this a little into a process form... - i) based on what we already know we make assumptions - ii) using a symbol system that we are already conditioned with [also knowledge], we make extrapolations [extend the knowledge tentatively] - iii) we then 'know' new things and we can test them with more of the symbol system [the tests - process and content being part of the extant knowledge] - iv) given they pass all the tests, we then 'know' the new as 'safe' as it fits in with what went before: we have 'proven it' and extende the knowledge base by 'stretching it' - but still based on the original knowledge base r) most modern day philosophers say they are 'pluralists', because it is obvious that no single philosophy - [or method of stucturing knowkledge and ideas] - can adequately explain or cover any issue, an issue being abortion, or capital punishment, whatever s) why and what is the process when we make assumptions upon assumptions and develop a world view and then make another assumption that the world view somehow represents reality? t) we begin with an assumption that the language system or any method is valid and trustworthy: [a big assumption]. If the system used to begin with is faulty... ...what system would one use to test that original system... surely not the system itself. v) on a particular 'issue', academic 'philosophers' would attempt to 'prove' it's value to society i.e., that capital punishment is a deterrent to crimes like murder, etc. They shouldn't be looking at 'value judgements' - good, bad, cost effective, fair, illogical, cruel, etc, etc. Deterrent is apparently either yes or no, but it copntains qualitative features. In a perfectly causal wprld (wher the effects of individual causes could be determined by measuerement), philosophy wouldn't come into it: in our statistically 'imperfect' world it comes down to philosophical debate and matter of opinion, (not

fact). [Note that last sentence wrt difference in the scientific method dialogue] w) Yes, it is opinion expressed by the use of premises, conclusions, definitions, symbol, etc, a waste of time mostly x) it has a circular aspect Is the edifice that is created (as a knowledge form) an ideation, an imagined form? Yes and no. Thought does have some potential but rather than a building or layering it seems that it can negate. In other words realise its limitations and therefore throw out what it cannot determine by seeing its circle. y) It all depends on 'extending' the start position of knowledge or ideation into the end position, the latter being initially (and finally stangely enough) a creation of the imagination. It is the movement, the expansion. of knowledge and a priori culture, language and conditioning round and around in a self limiting, self referencing.circle. A language game, fun for all the family. z) Language is obviously useful and can determine and fix things of unknown origin. However, as said before it gets outsid e of itself and seeks to "determine" and that is limited. It would seem that symbolic thinking or language or mathematics can determine fixed notions or concepts or even facts [within its self definining sphere] but to determine something universal and unlimited it cannot

How Does All This Fit Together in our Everyday Lives..? aa)We are born into a world that has been established and maintained through the structure of thought. So every day of our lives from childhood on is an exercise in the employment of thought to direct and to attain... to dream and to grasp... all based on the assumptions we make and accept. [and the conclusions we reach - some of which then become our new assumptions a 'philosophical' process if unconstrained by the intervention of physical fact? See scientific method dialogue for parallel] bb) It would seem that is not the case if we are seeking something unlimited and universal [outside of that circle]. To live and apply limitation to life it must inevitably limit itself and therefor cannot be applicable to all. As an example, 'capital

punishment' and its 'philosphical' support may suit some, but it does not suit the whole and therefor is not 'truth'. cc) So when we have the ordinary man in the street, and he says: 'my philosophy is X', what's actually going on in him then. Is it anything like what we've just discussed, or is it significantly different? Does he really mean 'philosophy'? dd) (the ordinary guy's 'philosophy' is really a description of his conditioned behaviour - or his 'system of principles for conduct of life'.ore oftne, it's the former (based on people I know) - his conditioned opinion ee) it has assumptions and so on in common with the other stuff and then his nonrigorous dialogue or argument on how he gets from state A to state B using his 'philosophy' or conditioning. Language gets used, as do assumption and imaging as before.- the informal process is a rough copy of the academic (but then rigour and definition are only relative aren't they?) ff) Joe Public works a pattern of behaviour he is already familiar with (his 'philosophy'). An academic philosopher does the same thing - runs a pattern of behaviours - to get from A to B. The academic's patterns may be more convoluted and tightly defined than those of the ordinary Joe, but the process is the same - and it's process we're interested in here, not content

Part 2 of the original question is - 'does this philosophy business provide security for the brain?' gg) If he were a Hindu academic, he could seek security by promulgating a theory of reincarnation, such that he could live forever through it... That would be a clever, security minded use of philosophy..That is escape isn't it? I am sure you know that but to cope is not to escape. If philosophy is obviously limited and that is the tool we use we are breeding our insecurity because we do not effectively cope. hh) The theme would of course relate to the philosophy issue and its limitation. Limitation cannot possible cover all situations because of unlimitedness. [in other

words, 'philosophy will never understand 'what is''] jj) Or the guy in the street could say: 'well my philosophy is to lead a good life, believe in Jesus and go to heaven'. More security - just observing the kinds of things people do...The process is one of imagining continuity.- Jesus or Muhhamed or Zoroaster or whatever may very well be 'true' indeed to the believer's 'philosophy', however, one would project the future and avoid the present in such ideas kk) What causes this avoidance of now? Jesus or Buddha or any other religion may be true as an end result of a projected 'heaven' or what not but the brain uses them as escape from present situations. The brain wants security and it seeks all ways or beliefs to give it that. I cant know what security is but one can negate and see what it isn't. ll) And now for the stun grenade: we seem to have described the process of philosophy in both the academic and normal spheres and found parallels. We see that we can use this process to attempt to give security for the brain. Now, what if we assume as a root, primary state that the observer and the observed are one. Does this change what we have, and if so in what way? Does philosophy even matter? One can see separation though yet that may be belief. At this levelI don't think it does. - When we grasp the fallacy of the structure - manipulating thought forms with language. Reiterating fixed process patterns again and again.- Is there an all encompassing philosophy of life? (no)... assuming either way is part of the problem. Actually assuming is the problem. Yet we see that there is ineffective coping.- The only possibility of physical security, which is what people want, is in 'belief' in illusions such as re-incarnation, heaven etc, which does not represent physical security at all. mm) The topic was can we find security through this philosophy. It cant. nn) We see how we will use philosophy - the definition of and shifting of structures in existing knowledge, using existing knowledge to make new structures pp)To make a statement correcting our earlier discussion. When one asks Mr. Man In The Street why is philosophy about X is, then nine out of ten times, he replies with his opinion. This is an important distinction in that it is ready made and usually fixed. It is

further important in that the same process people use to generate philosophy they use to generate opinion. One, the academic kind, may be rigorous: the other - common or garden - will generally not be, but the PROCESS remains the same qq) The process of philosophy manipulates symbols, taking them from one position (definition and or proposal)) to another ('proof') by means of using other predefined symbols. It therefore works entirely with the field of the known and may extend that field - but only according to a priori defined or 'known' artefacts. Two plus two only equals four according to one particular system of rules.

(Note - in order to prevent confusion - that unless indicated otherwise, the observations and commentaries given above are original to the members of the group who participated in the dialogue.) A full rough transcript of this particular dialogue is presented below. Transcript 06/8/01 Philosophy - Don't want to direct a discussion... is there a K related topic anyone would like to explore? - I would like to discuss the security of the brain unless you have something intriguing. - I'm quite willing to go for something deep. Earlier in the week we discussed the epistemology - the roots - of the process of knowledge, how it works. - Scientifically or psychologically? - We came into that as part of a general topic of 'patterning', identifying the knowledge process as one form of it (both) This patterning makes up our conditioning in toto - the root ways we behave and another one, besides 'knowledge', is 'philosophy'. We all of us have, overtly or covertly, philosophies of some kind. It's interesting to me how we form basic beliefs and then layer them with experience and build up an intricate structure of interacting assumptions.- I don't want to discuss any philosophy in particular, but the process of, and the reasons why, we have it. Now, can that be merged with the other topic of 'the security of the brain' Yes David. One of those is a process of philosophy. Can you merge the two, Ryan?

- They sound directly related actually. Any conditioning and holding belief or "philosophies" are part of that. So yes. - But you wanted to discuss the security of the brain (or did I misunderstand...) - Yes, security. I am looking at all this from a daily perspective and how we seek to have or build these images and then hold them to protect ourselves. - How about: 'What is the process of philosophy that works within us, and does it provide security of the brain?' - Yes. That sounds like a good place to begin. - OK - You seem to be on the ball with the philosophy part Morf so would you do the honour and lead us off? - OK. We need to keep in mind that we are looking at the epistemology - the method/process/grounds - of philosophy rather than philosophy itself (we fell off the rails a few times when we did knowledge). David, can you begin? - Would it be appropriate to look at one of our most basic assumptions and how we developed it and what springs from it... such as the assumption of "I am" and its opposite negative fear "I am not". - Dave made an interesting bit about layering. We do this in a general way of building things up and then making assumptions about them. I think so David. Go ahead with your idea. - The word 'philosophy' derives from philos - love and sophia - truth in the Greek. Hence the academic use of the word by those who would claim to 'love' 'truth' & then go on to hold interminable discussions based on the assumption that they can find and 'love' truth through words somehow.- Much thinking for me guys I much prefer reality. - Do we want to examine the academic aspects of the process (perhaps we should), or do we focus on the everyday use (maybe the latter depends on/merges with/is a derivative of the former...) - ... it seems we grasp at the assumptions that we deem positive or good and push away those that we deem negative... the fears of the opposite... ( he just said it .what we prefer is what we take for the reality we want). - Yes, perhaps we have to drink the castor oil as well as the honey (hi Dave - process of philosophy is topic)- It seems if we were only able to be open to the negative... I am no... the fear.... if we could let it go there would be no need to assert the positive "I am". - I think we have to take on the academic aspects (but process only remember) since

various 'academic' philosophies underpin our thought processes - Such as? - You'll have to clarify or go a little further for me to understand your meaning Morf. - A basic tenet of most philosophical systems is that by thinking and manipulating symbols (e.g. language) one can come upon 'truth' That's their raw process. - ...and why was that basic assumption made? or why do we continue to make it? - (Wittgenstein said philosophical puzzles are actually just the confusion of language, or something like that) - What other tool do we have? Perhaps that is the question. We do everything by this manipulation of language or as we know to be thought. - Dunno. Can anybody think of an exception of that raw assumption in any recognised 'system' of philosophy (I don't know too many of 'em) - ...their may be more basic historical philosophical assumptions though... of mysticism... Buddhism... etc. shaman ism etc... - They all define themselves through language. - How do you feel about atheism? I would assume if was looked at intricately it is defined yet it is the absence of belief. What you see is what you get. - Yes. Definitions in language. Is this the process, I know you've studied this, DaveA. Stage 1) definition? - Some say mathematics proves logic, does exist and can define the universe, but that is only in the sense of measurement. - Its the opposite assumption of believing 'in something... each contains and implies the other. - Hang on, we aren't talking religion, but philosophy that is non theist in principle .- OK - We are talking basic "assumption" aren't we? world views. - Yes. Let me get the 'process brief' I wrote a minute ago.A basic tenet of most philosophical systems is that by thinking and manipulating symbols (e.g. language) one can come upon 'truth'. - To believe in or not to believe in... basic assumptions to hold in thought as if thought is the only legitimate environment to see with. - In that case I can think of none. The very definition discards any possibility of another process. - Implicit in that assumption is another assumption - that 'truth' is amenable to thinking and symbolism and can be represented as such. Does the question: 'what is truth' ever get asked one wonders.

- Well, it assumes that there is even such a thing as "truth". - It does and the answer is what we settle for... truth is what we 'think' is what we get. - Yes, and furthermore that the participants somehow know what it is and will recognise it when (if) they come upon it. How do the philosophers 'know' they have reached the 'truth' DaveA? - Sorry not to wait on DaveA but it is an assumption again that they have arrived. - If their assumption is verified... which means if they can fit what they want into the result. - So it is like forming a theory and then trying to prove it? I can make a milk shake a hundred ways. - The term 'truth' seems to denote a property, expressed by the predicate 'is truth' - Of what is truth a property? What are the primary 'bearers of truth? ( and falsity) the assumption is reason and logic and mathematics... measures ( I'm quoting 'the Oxford companion to philosophy') - I see this on one level. But truth is assumed to be something definite and limited here. It must return to "what is truth?" Or the goal is misunderstood on this end.- It goes on to say what we already decided, that truth is determined by the process of definition through language. - To return to 'what is truth' is to return to thought ... it returns us to ideas. - Truth is arrived at by the use of facts. -..and facts are what... assumptions of truth. - Yes it does return to thought. As the dictionary says it also something already determined. Being determined is thought making assumption by use of any method it wishes. - Even though we may have ideas that thought is something else the question must be asked. In fact it is the same trap that assumes Truth is something else. - Academically a philosopher makes a formal argument. this is done by establishing premises, which taken together step by step lead to a conclusion. - It's clear that if we look for truth in thought we will come up with assumptions and more thought... so we realise that thought may not lead to truth at all... but a relative coming close to the physical world. - I read some of this stuff years ago. One thing it does depend upon is language (and that needs agreeing a lot of the time), symbol and common knowledge (common to the participants or thinker and audience). Each philosophy therefore is a product of its supporting culture. - David is correct. So thought can at least arrive at an area that can discard itself

though not arriving at a conclusion as to what thought is but rather what it is not. Negation. - So to generalise this a little into the process... - a) based on what we already know we make assumptions - b) using a symbol system that we are already conditioned with, we make extrapolations - c) we then 'know' new things and we can test them with more of the symbol system - d) given they pass all the tests, we then 'know' the new as 'safe' as it fits in with what went before: we have 'proven it' - Does that sound about right for the process? - Most modern day philosophers, certainly the ones i met, say they are 'pluralists', because it is obvious that no single philosophy can adequately explain or cover any issue, an issue being abortion, or capital punishment, whatever that's a reasonable summary, yes Morf. - what would these philosophers try to 'prove' for example on capital punishment. - ...but we have not touched on why and what is the process of when we make assumptions upon assumptions and develop a world view and then make another assumption that the world view is reality. - Hang on David, we're getting there. - It does Morf and as I am sure we all see we begin with an assumption that the language system or any method is valid and trustworthy. Is the system used to begin with faulty and if so what system would one use to test that original system... surely not the system itself. Am I jumping the gun or are you wanting to pick out something else? DaveA - They would attempt to 'prove' it's value to society i.e., that capital punishment is a deterrent to crimes like murder, (which it isn't, by the way)- right, so they're looking at 'value judgements' - god, bad, cost effective, fair, illogical, cruel, etc, etc. (that's probably next step, Ryan - not sure yet) But deterrent is either yes or no (or is it?) (I would say that's not something you could prove by argument - more by statistics. Whether it is or it isn't is otherwise a matter of opinion, not fact?) - Capital punishment a side issue that may take us away from our thread. - Yes, it is opinion expressed by the use of premises, conclusions etc, a waste of time mostly I decided after getting an honours degree in it (philosophy) - (I can see it has indeed a circular aspect) Is the edifice that is created (as a knowledge form) an ideation, an imagined form? - Yes and no Morf. Thought does have some potential but rather than a building or

layering as David put it, it seems that it can negate. In other words realise its limitations and therefor throw out what it cannot determine by seeing its circle. - ' I state an argument, you, or someone, counters it, with further argument, onlookers choose which they prefer, until someone adds to the body of argument, and on it goes, ad infinitum'. - And it all depends on 'extending' the start position into the end position, the latter being a creation of the imagination. - Most modern philosophers, that I met, are pluralists because they acknowledge that no one philosophy covers an issue completely. - By extend, I mean it's the movement of knowledge and a priori culture, language and conditioning Yes, but we are seeking the process. - Round and round... self limiting, self referencing... circle. - A language game, fun for all the family. - Well, language is obviously useful and can determine and fix things of unknown origin. However, as said before it seeks to "determine" and that is limited. It would seem that thought or language or math can determine fixed notions or concepts or even facts but to determine something universal and unlimited it cannot. - Right David and Ryan, you've been chomping at the bit: how doers all this fit in with everyday life and everyday 'philosophy'? Over to you two for a bit... - We are born into a world that has been established and maintained through the structure of thought. So every day of our lives from childhood on is an exercise in the employment of thought to direct and to attain... to dream and to grasp... all based on the assumptions we make and accept. - We are assuming that life and all circumstances within it are limited as individual cases. It would seem that is not the case if we are seeking something unlimited and universal. To live and apply limitation to life it must inevitably limit itself and therefor cannot be applicable to all. As capital punishment may suit some it does not suit the whole and therefor is not truth. - So this gets back to the idea of security for me if we can look that direction for a bit. We realise that by this perception of limitation and maintaining the structure as David says we are limiting ourselves and not secure. We are actually breeding insecurity and lack. The world situations prove that hands down as well as our individual lives that obviously make the world. - Come on guys, stay on topic - the process of philosophy, not content and does it provide security for the brain. Are you saying that these are your conditioned 'philosophies'

- ... when we make an assumption there is structure to it... the structure includes the stated, and its opposite also... looking at this structure we can uncover process. - That comes out of knowledge. - It comes from observation. - So when we have the ordinary man in the street, and he says: 'my philosophy is X', what's actually going on in him then. Is it anything like what we've just discussed, or is it significantly different? Does he really mean 'philosophy'? - If one backs up from languaging... back further to preverbal... one uncovers a unity of structure. - Yes, - I said before that observation of the process of knowledge may use knowledge yet it has the potential to see it cannot move or insight may happen to realise its lack. I don't think he sees it that completely Morf. He makes assumptions as we saw before as being the ground of all this conditioning. - He lives in fear and that is what motivates this whole process of philosophy. Philosophy to overcome fear of circumstance. Is this moving away? - And the assumptions includes the thinking process that excludes opposites... a dichotomy of perception so at what point in the process is your awareness... from the point or perspective that you are looking. - If I see it rightly pain becomes my awareness. - So the ordinary guy's 'philosophy' is really a description of his conditioned behaviour ) it has assumptions and so on in common with the other stuff) and then his dialogue or argument on how he gets from state A to state B using his 'philosophy' or conditioning. Language gets used, as do assumption and imaging as before.- Yes M, but does it have to be that way? - He works a pattern of behaviour he is already familiar with (his philosophy). An academic philosopher does the same thing - runs a pattern of behaviours - to get from A to B. (Nothing has to be anything) I'm watching myself as I write this. The academic's patterns may be more convoluted than the ordinary Joe, but the process is the same. - Morf... that is reasonable. I am hinting at what causes this behaviour or conditioning to occur. Obviously the man on the street is not seeing all this. However, he does feel pain and pleasure. He seeks out of lack right? Or philosophy to explain lack? - Ah, cause, effect and motive are something else - I was only going for the process. Part 2 of the question is - 'does this philosophy business provide security for the brain?'

- Yes, part 2. He doesn't understand and he seeks security which to me is absence of pain and not seeking pleasure necessarily. The general theme would to be able to cope with all situations effectively. - If he were a Hindu academic, he could seek security by promulgating a theory of reincarnation, such that he could live forever through it... That would be a clever, security minded use of philosophy.. - The theme would of course relate to the philosophy issue and its limitation. Limitation cannot possible cover all situations because of unlimitedness. That is escape isn't it Morf? I am sure you know that but to cope is not to escape. If philosophy is obviously limited and that is the tool we use we are breeding our insecurity because we do not effectively cope. - Or the guy in the street could say: 'well my philosophy is to lead a good life, believe in Jesus and go to heaven'. More security. I'm just observing the kinds of things people do...The process is one of imagining continuity.- Jesus may very well be true indeed. However, we do project the future and avoid the present in such ideas. Yes Morf. - But 'he who says he knows, does not know', so take no notice of me. - What causes this avoidance of now? Jesus or Buddha or any other religion may be true as an end result of heaven or what not but the brain uses them as escape from present situations. The brain wants security and it seeks all ways or beliefs to give it that. Philosophy to deal with situations and events yet the ground is the same. To find security we would again project a meaning or is it negation as said earlier that sees its movement as the breeding of insecurity? I cant know what security is but one can negate and see what it isn't. - And now for the stun grenade: we seem to have described the process of philosophy in both the academic and normal spheres and found parallels. We see that we can use this process to attempt to give security for the brain. Now, what if we assume as a root, primary state that the observer and the observed are one. Does this change what we have, and if so in what way? Does philosophy even matter? - One can see separation though yet that may be belief. At this level Morf I don't think it does. - When we grasp the fallacy of the structure - manipulating thought forms with language. Reiterating fixed process patterns again and again.- Is there an all encompassing philosophy of life? (no) - Dave... assuming either way is part of the problem. Actually assuming is the problem. Yet we see that there is ineffective coping.- The only possibility of physical

security, which is what people want, is in 'belief' in illusions such as re-incarnation, heaven etc, which does not represent physical security at all. - We cannot know security yet we can see what breeds insecurity (not arguing opposites here.) If we seek something not knowable all we can do is throw out all that is known. In the same way to find if there is security all one can do is negate that which is breeding insecurity to find out. We don't know so we discard the known. - If 'I' can't have physical security, I'll settle for psychological security, or illusion. - Dave, we see that "I" doesn't have psychological security either. We don't know security but we do KNOW insecurity. The very search which is the known is insecurity. So seeking security becomes the problem. - 'There are only two kinds of creatures on this planet: those that are dead, and those that are going to die.' (with apologies to Robert Mitchum) Only the 'I' has insecurity. The body is perfectly secure - and will normally remain so. Do we now realise how the philosophy process works? If we do, we've made some significant process - and it'll never capture us again (Wittgenstein? Spittgenstein! - don't talk like a Kant) - Or thought or philosophy or belief and so on and so on. Psychologically it is the known and a division in the brain as the activity that separates the two. So all we can know is insecurity psychologically. So what one is seeing is that to search for it is the movement of the known or insecurity trying to find security where it isn't. We (memory) cant know security. - Em... The topic was can we find security through this philosophy. It cant. - We see how we will use philosophy - the definition of and shifting of structures in existing knowledge, using existing knowledge to make new structures - how we will use that in an attempt to obtain security. The known moves in the known to support the known and give security to the known. - Yes it tries anyway. We see thought that the very movement of that structure or process is limited and is breeding insecurity. It would seem that the very process itself IS insecurity isn't it? The brain wants security so badly. It has to have it whether it attempts that in illusions or no. But we are seeing that it isn't finding it there... not really. These shifting structure are unstable and the stacking of them as you say is making the building more prone to being unsafe. This is what happens to all of us who are trapped in our opinions and philosophies.- So what are we to do?- It seems that what we can do is be aware of our illusions... attention to what is false and how we create the false.- the early dialogue defined 'knowledging' to some extent, this one has shown how we stretch and push knowledge into new and imaginary forms, but forms we will treat with equal validity to the forms of 'hard' knowledge. One thing it has

done for me, and maybe the rest of you, is give me a fairly in depth appreciation of the philosophical process such that I would now be quite happy to tell any 'philosopher' who came in here laying down the odds that he was talking shallow, circular pap. - To make a statement correcting our earlier discussion. When one asks Mr. Man In The Street why is philosophy about X is, then nine out of ten times, he replies with his opinion. This is an important distinction in that it is ready made. It is further important in that the same process people use to generate philosophy they use to generate opinion. One, the academic kind, may be rigorous: the other - common or garden will generally not be, but the PROCESS remains the same. Hope that helps.