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About Philosophy Chapter 1


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What do philosophers do?
Study human nature
What did Socrates think the most important and puzzling topic was?
The human condition itself
What three things transformed Socrates from just a man asking questions to one of the most important and well-respected thinkers of all of philosophy?
1. one of his followers, Plato, wrote Dialogues that described Socrates' work and explained his philosophies.
2. When Socrates was placed on trial for trumped up charges in an attempt to just get him out of Athens so he would no longer be an annoyance for the government, Socrates defended himself to the point where he was eventually sentenced to death, and even though he probably could've escaped from jail with the help of his friends - he swallowed the poison and became the first martyr of philosophy.
3. As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living," so he ruthlessly questioned everything and everyone in order to get people to examine their own lives.
What four basic principles did Socrates put forth as to how to examine one's life? (as stated by Plato)
1. Each man and woman must subject his or her life and convictions to the test of critical self-examination. By means of this self-examination, one can achieve genuine happiness.
2. There are objective principles of thought and action that must be followed by all men and women, in all places, in all periods of time if we are to live good lives and be genuinely good and happy at the same time. Some people are unjust, self-indulgent, obsessed with worthless goals, blind and confused about what is really important - they do not realize that certain things are unimportant. They need to find the truth and live in accordance with it.
3. The truth lives within each of us; not in religious books, in the stars, in the opinions of the masses or in tradition. Each of us has within us the true principles of right thinking and acting - no one can teach anyone else the truth about life. Only relentless self-examination will reveal the truth that lies within.
4. Although no one can teach anyone else about the fundamental principles of right action, some people (philosophers, teachers) can ask questions that prod men and women to begin the task of self-examination. They may also be able to guide the process, in the early stages at least, because they have been through the process and know where the pitfalls are.
What does philosophy consist of?
A dialogue between two people, one of who is seeking rational insight and understanding, the other of whom has already achieved some measure of self-knowledge and wishes to help the novice.
What is always the endpoint of the journey of a dialogue?
Wisdom, rational insight into the principles of thought and action, and thus a happier, more integrated, more worthwhile life. The starting points though, are as many as the students who make the journey.
What is the enormous block in the road in each journey to wisdom according to Socrates?
No one can admit that he or she needs to learn. AKA: resistance.
What did Socrates use what is now known as the Socratic Method to do?
To show the person with whom he was speaking that he or she did, in fact need to learn and to make the person admit that fact.
What is the Socratic Method?
A technique of using probing questions, developed by Socrates, for the purpose of prodding, pushing and provoking unreflective persons into realizing their lack of rational understanding of their own principles of thought and action, so that they can set out on the path to philosophical wisdom. As used by Socrates, this was a powerful method for deflating inflated egos.
What does Thrasymachus challenge Socrates to do in Plato's dialogue the Republic?
To define justice in a clear, precise statement. This is an attempt on Thrasymachus' part to turn the tables on Socrates.
What is cosmology?
The study of the nature of the world; Literally, the study of the order of the world. Now used to refer to the branch of astronomy that investigates the organization and structire of the entire physical universe, including its origins. In philosophy, cosmology is a part of the subfield called metaphysics, or the study of first principles.
What are the two great branches of philosophy?
The philosophers who study the human experience and those that speculate about the order of the entire universe.
Who started studying cosmology and when?
The Greeks, about 200 years before Socrates time. Roughly 600 years B.C.
When did Socrates live?
469-399 BC, roughly.
What is philosophy?
Literally, the love of wisdom, the systematic, critical self-examination of the way in which we judge, evaluate, and act, with the aim of making ourselves wiser, more self-reflective. and therefore better men and women.
Name 2 early Greek Cosmologists and what their group as a whole was called.
Thales and Anaximenes - the Milesians.
What was the fundamental problem that the Milesians were trying to answer?
Determining the basic stuff or component matter from which all the variety of the things the world were composed.
What 4 categories did the Milesians divide matter up into?
earth, water, air and fire
What was another great theme of the Milesians?
Natural events were to be understood by appeal to natural forces, not by appeal to the actions of the gods or the interventions of some non-natural forces.
What cosmological theory did Lucretius defend in his work 'On the Nature of Things'?
atomism 0 according to which everything in the universe, including even the human soul, is composed of little bits of matter called atoms, whcih are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye.
What are people who study cosmological ideas called?
Scientists, not philosophers.
What are philosophers above all else?
Seekers of unity. Where human experience presents a manyness, they seek the underlying oneness.
What are the two basic strategies of philosophers to bring the two branches of philosophy into some interconnected whole?
Stoicism and epistemology
What did the Stoics claim?
That the world has a rational order that can be explained by appeal to the existence and operations of a power of reason which they called logos (logic). An individual's power of reason was said to be a fragment or spark of the divine Logos that informs and governs the universe.
Which of the most important philosophical ideas in Western thought did the unifying doctrine of the Stoics give rise to?
The idea of natural law - God or the power of Reason, created the universe in accordance with a rational idea of the proper form and order of its organization.
Name one of the greatest of the ancient Stoics.
Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor who wrote "Meditations," he combined great skill as a general/ ruler with a contemplative nature.
What is epistemology?
The 'theory of knowledge'. Basically, the idea that the universe is vast, and 10,000 generations would be too short a time to say everything that can be learned about it; but every single fact, every theory, every insight, guess, hypothesis or deduction is an idea in the human mind. So instead of looking outward at the universe, look inside at the nature of the human mind itself. The way in which we know rather than what we know.
What are the two competing epistemological theories?
Empiricism and Rationalism.
What is empiricism?
The theory that all human knowledge comes fro the evience of our five senses, and therefore that we can never know more, or know with greater certainty than what our senses will allow.
What is rationalism?
The theory that at least some human knowledge comes from reason, unaided by the senses, and therefore that we can know about certain things that the seneses do not reveal to us, and can know with greater certainty than the senses will allow.
Name an empiricist.
The British man David Hume who wrote "A Treatise of Human Nature" while just a teenager.
What are the three characteristics that philosophical truths or insights are said to share?
Ratoinality, universality and objectivity.
What is rationality?
the mind's ability to present reasons, evidence and arguments in support of our believes.
What is universality?
Applying everywhere and always, being true for everyone and not just for me. In order for a statement to be true for anyone, according to philosophers, it must be true for everyone.
What is objectivity?
Being true to the way the world really is, not merely reflecting the inner nature of an individual subject.
What is the connection between rationality, universality and objectivity?
If a trutch is rational, then it will be true for everyone, because what we all have in common is our reason. It is our passion, our self-interest, our emotion that makes us different from one another, hence, rationality implies universality. If a truth is rational, then it will be onjective - it will be true of the object, not of the subject who is stating the truth.

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