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A Brief Introduction to Philosophy • common understanding of the word captured by the question: • What is your “philosophy”? • examples: • “I believe in living life to the fullest, making the most of every day. I choose to be thankful for what I have rather than dwelling on what I do not have. Life is an adventure, and nothing can be taken for granted. I didn’t know what tomorrow will bring. So, I am not afraid to take a chance!” • “I believe that you should do the best in what ever you do, I hold that philosophy in my work and my life.” • • • • • • this is not academic philosophy philosophy is an academic discipline that involves: deep and rigorous thinking the search for knowledge and truth a systematic application of reason and logic an attempt to rationally justify belief ▪ philosophy ▪ ▪ from Greek: “philo” love of and “sophia” wisdom ▪ ▪ generally translated: “love of wisdom” ▪ wisdom? • The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. • Common sense; good judgment. what some famous philosophers thought philosophy was and what it involved: ancient philosophers Plato and Aristotle believed “philosophy begins in wonder” curiosity: the starting place for philosophical contemplation What are some things that you all are curious about? • Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889-1951 • “Philosophy not a body of doctrine, but an activity.” • “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” • not a set of beliefs like religion has • What kind of activity? • an activity that involves elucidation/clarification of concepts • Can you think of an idea that needs elucidation/clarification? • philosophy is something we do • it is not a spectator sport! • Georg Hegel 1770-1831 • greatly influenced Karl Mark • “Philosophy is a study of its own history.” • there are basic questions about human existence • that have already been asked and pondered • but we ask them as if they were new • and we look at how our predecessors tried to answer them • By studying philosophy, we will come to see that the questions our predecessors asked are the same as the questions we ask. • Bertrand Russell 1872-1970 • popular philosopher 20th Century • taught at UCLA • Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. • authority in persons, traditions, texts • philosophy frees us from the tyranny of tradition • How is tradition tyrannical? from a student poem: Science sees truth in how a bang started it all, Religion sees truth in how God began the call. “Philosophy is middle ground between religion and science” In philosophy we live in a wonder-filled alliance. We live in the common ground. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. • “Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, • so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.” • Letter from a Birmingham Jail • philosophy: • for individuals: free us from myths and half-truths • for society brings understanding and brotherhood • MLK • Doctor of Philosophy degree Ph.D. • thinking is a definitive human act • this course focuses on thought • “thinking about thinking” • philosophy helps us develop critical thinking/critical reasoning skills What do philosophers do? • so, identify a question that is important to us as humans: philosophers systematically treat/analyze a subject: • Does God exist? • and then rationally go through and try to answer the question. • others: • What is a “good life”? • What is a “just society”? philosophers define terms and concepts: • When you use the word “fair” what do you mean? • What does “good” mean? • What is beautiful? • argument: not the heated impassioned exchange that we have with family members or lovers • rather: the attempt to give reasons to show that one’s belief is true/good: philosophers give arguments: • examples: • for abortion: • Abortion should be legal. • Women have the right to do what they want to with their bodies. • A fetus is not a person until it is viable outside of the pregnant woman’s body. • Abortion stops the future suffering of an unwanted child. • anti-abortion • Persons have the “right to life” • A person is a human who either is a rational being or has the potential to become one. • Fetuses are humans and potentially rational beings. • Thus, fetuses have the right to life and should not be aborted. philosophers muse on profound, obscure, and complex questions: • perfectly captured in a famous quote by Martin Heidegger: • In An Introduction to Metaphysics, The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics the philosopher Heidegger writes: • “Why is there anything rather than nothing? That is the question. Clearly it is no ordinary question. “Why is there something, why is there anything at all, rather than nothing?”—obviously this is the first of all questions, though not in a chronological sense. Individuals and peoples ask a good many questions in the course of their historical passage through time. They examine, explore, and test a good many things before they run into the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Many men never encounter this question, if by encounter we mean not merely to hear and read about it as an interrogative formulation but to ask the question—that is, to bring it about, to raise it, to feel its inevitability. And yet each of us is grazed at least once, perhaps more than once, by the hidden power of this question, even if he is not aware of what is happening to him. The question looms in moments of great despair, when things tend to lose all their weight and all meaning becomes obscured. Perhaps it will strike but once like a muffled bell that rings into our life and gradually dies away. It is present in moments of rejoicing, when all the things around us are transfigured and seem to be there for the first time, as if it might be easier to think they are not than to understand that they are and are as they are. The question is upon us in boredom, when we are equally removed from despair and joy, and everything about us seems so hopelessly commonplace that we no longer care whether anything is or is not—and with this the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is evoked in a particular form. But this question may be asked expressly, or, unrecognized as a question, it may merely pass through our lives like a brief gust of wind; it may press hard upon us, or, under one pretext or another, we may thrust it away from us and silence it.” • Is the universe planned or is it a “random concourse of atoms”? • Is there an edge to space? • Are we in a computer simulation? • Will humans ever be able to create real artificial intelligence? • Ethics/Moral philosophy—What is a good act/good life? • this course falls under this category The branches of philosophy: • Political philosophy—What is justice? • What is the ideal/good society? • What is the best form of government? • Epistemology—What is knowledge? • Metaphysics—What is reality? • The philosophy of religion: • Can the existence of god be proven? • The problem of evil • Aesthetics— • A study of art and beauty? • Existentialism—the philosophy that wrestles with the human condition. What does it mean to be authentic? • How can one live in the face of meaninglessness or misery? • To what extent are humans free? • philosophers: • challenge/question social, religious, and political traditions and authorities • apply reason to answer social, ethical and political questions • historically these questions were answered religiously • How to live a good life? • How to be a good person? • What is justice? • What is the best system of government? contemporary examples of philosophical questions: • Should the US intervene in the Middle East? • When does a fetus become a person? • How should an autonomous vehicle swerve to avoid a crash? TED Talk • Is capital punishment moral? • Is it ethical for a person to steal to feed her family? • Is it ethical to manipulate genetics? ex: the ethics of genetic engineering for babies • Is it moral for the US to have a border wall with Mexico? • the list of questions is endless • former student wrote: • “I think philosophy can help us solve all problems in our lives. It helps us to think critically, analyze, and act upon our beliefs and mainly, logic (not emotions). It also helps expand our minds to others’ perspectives. In regard to the world’s problems, I believe philosophy can help us simply with that, to view things from a different perspective. Without philosophy, any type of progress for the world seems misguided and absent.” • Veronica G SU 20 • another student wrote: When I think of the class title “Intro to Philosophy”, I think of all the possible concepts developed in terms of thinking and living through life. It kind of leads you to an unwarranted existential crisis in terms of whether our developed way of thinking and growing is necessarily “right” or “wrong”. • WI 21 • former student wrote at the end of the semester: • At the beginning of the semester, I thought this class was not going to change anything in my personal life but somehow it started changing my mindset and my understanding of every situation in my daily life with work, family and friends. Some of these philosophic writings drastically motivated me to go beyond practical thinking and made me aware of our current society which now looks primitive to me; people are negligent or paranoid and therefore should adopt critical thinking before deciding what’s next. • In this class I learned that decisions are not to be rushed, faith cannot be used as the basis for reasoning, women do not need to be treated as the weak version of humanity, evil does not get fixed by striking back with more evil, and that good will is the pure voice of our soul. • It’s been an amazing semester and I’m so proud of taking this course, it truly changed my life forever. The 3 shifts that led to philosophy 1st—mode of production 2nd –style of thought 3rd—topic of concern • prehistorically: humans lived in small, self-sufficient tribal communities • Karl Marx (1850’s German philosopher) called them primitive communes • sustenance needs met via hunting/ gathering, and rarely accumulated any surplus 1ST SHIFT: MODE OF PRODUCTION • “thought” in this time period generally involved • ways to improve the hunt • increase/insure food supply • concerns about shelter • safety concerns, i.e. and predators, etc. • “survivalistic” thinking • but humans learned to domesticate animals and developed farming methods • This led to the first shift: • away from mere survivalism (hunting and gathering) • into more settled ways of life • sustenance needs met via farming and domestication of animals first shift: shift in the mode of production hunting and gathering first shift FROM to farming and domestication of animals • this settled lifestyle • led to predictable surplus/increased amount of leisure • Greek word for leisure is scholi • root of English word for school • leisure allowed for deeper thought and to indulge curiosity • people now wonder more about themselves, their environment, forces of nature • attempted to gain control/predict nature by understanding • natural phenomena: seasons, eclipses, tides, earthquakes, weather, etc. • initially natural phenomena were interpreted via mythos: knowledge via story • story telling/metaphor as a way of understanding • versus a logical or literal way: logos • example: child asks where do babies come from? • myth: storks deliver them • logos: come as a result of sexual intercourse and after a period of gestation 2nd SHIFT MODE OF THOUGHT • shift from mythos to logos • mythos: language is fictionalized, unbounded, poetic and not literal • involves sharing of knowledge via story • example close to home: Marie Wilcox Last speaker of the Wachumni Maries Dictionary • The animals wanted humans to have hands like their own. • So the eagle organized a race between the coyote and the lizard. • How humans got the kind of hands that we have. • myth: because the lizard won the race • logic: result of evolution and adaptation • many groups in history: • Apache, Greek, Mayans, Aztecs, Vedics, etc. • had prominent mythos • one special area of mythos involves attempts to explain the origin of the universe: cosmogonies • examples: • Apache: • Apache are a group of culturally related Native American tribes in the Southwestern United States • In the beginning nothing existed, only darkness was everywhere. Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the other side white, appearing suspended in midair. Within the disc sat a small bearded man, Creator, the One Who Lives Above. When he looked into the endless darkness, light appeared above. He looked down and it became a sea of light. To the east, he created yellow streaks of dawn. To the west, tints of many colours appeared everywhere. • Bantu: • Bantu general label for 300–600 ethnic groups in Africa who speak Bantu languages • Originally, the Earth was nothing but water and darkness. Mbombo, the white giant ruled over this chaos. One day, he felt a terrible pain in his stomach, and vomited the sun, the moon, and the stars. The sun shone fiercely and water steamed up in clouds. Gradually, the dry hills appeared. Mbombo vomited again, this time the trees came out of his stomach, and animals, and people , and many other things. • Genesis 1 King James Version (KJV)

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