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Philosophy 2010 Introduction to Philosophy Professor Anthony F. D’Ascoli Read and know your syllabus Get the textbook l l Read the textbook before class.

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Presentation on theme: "Philosophy 2010 Introduction to Philosophy Professor Anthony F. D’Ascoli Read and know your syllabus Get the textbook l l Read the textbook before class."— Presentation transcript:

1 Philosophy 2010 Introduction to Philosophy Professor Anthony F. D’Ascoli Read and know your syllabus Get the textbook l l Read the textbook before class l l Make an outline that combines notes from your reading of the text, website summary, and class notes l l Website: l l Visit the instructor during office hours or

2 The Website: This site contains: l l the syllabus l l PowerPoints from class l l links to the readings l l detailed explanations for the papers l l Links to quizzes and exams

3 Course Requirements l l Read the assigned material l l Come to all classes l l Turn off your cell phone/lap tops l l Participate in class discussions

4 Misconceptions of Philosophy l l Philosophy deals only with abstractions; it is not concrete or practical l l Philosophy is just a game arguing about words l l Philosophy is only an expression of personal opinions

5 Philosophy: the Pursuit of Wisdom Born of wonder: Why are we here? Who are we really? Does God exist? Why is there evil? Why should we care about others? Aim: to clarify ideas and evaluate the reasons given to justify beliefs: What do you mean? How do you know? Purpose: to achieve autonomy, freedom to decide what to believe

6 The Philosophic Drive for Autonomy: Plato’s Myth of the Cave The activity of philosophy is difficult because it requires that we question our most basic beliefs in seeking to understand why things are the way they are

7 How Philosophy Differs From Science, Law, and Religion ä ä Philosophy challenges believers to explain and defend claims of religious truth ä ä Philosophy questions the assumptions and procedures of science ä ä Philosophy does not merely accept social beliefs or laws; it asks how they are justified

8 Areas of Philosophy l l Epistemology (the study of knowledge): l l How is knowledge different from belief or opinion? Is there only one truth, or can different views be equally true? l l Ontology/Metaphysics (the study of the nature of reality): l l What is the difference between appearance and reality? Is there a God? To what extent are human beings really free?

9 Areas of Philosophy l l Axiology (the study of values): l l Ethics: Is there a real difference between moral right and wrong? l l Social & Political Philosophy: Why do we have social and political obligations? l l Aesthetics: What is art? What is beauty?

10 A Little Logic l l A philosophical argument aims to provide reasons that make a conclusion probable (inductively) or necessary (deductively) l l A sound argument is deductive and valid (the conclusion follows necessarily) and its premises are true l l Ways to critique arguments: counterexample, show confusion of necessary and sufficient conditions, reduce argument to absurdity

11 Socrates (469 – 399 B.C.) “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socratic method: ask questions to find out how to act by learning the essence of a thing—what makes it be, for example, an act of holiness or justice. Socratic ignorance: to know that even though you do not know what true holiness or justice is, you know the method (the questioning search for the essence of things) by which to live wisely.

12 Socrates “Virtue is knowledge”: without knowing why a thing has value or excellence (aretê), you cannot act intelligently. Your actions should be based on doing the right thing—that for which you can give informed, defensible reasons—rather than doing things simply because the majority says those actions are right.

13 The Value of Philosophy It allows us to decide for ourselves what to believe about our place in the universe (Plato) It frees us from the ignorance that causes the cycle of birth, suffering, and death (Buddhism) It allows us to actualize our higher-level, intellectual needs and opens us up to ambiguity and change (Aristotle), and thus makes us more tolerant and open-minded (feminism)

14 The Legacy of Socrates Our actions should be based on beliefs and arguments for which we can give informed, defensible reasons, and not based on popular opinion, custom, or religious authority “Virtue is knowledge” “The unexamined life is not worth living” BCE

15 Arguments for an Obligation to Obey the Laws of the State As a rule, to disobey the State is to challenge its legitimacy and undermine its authority, resulting in social turmoil Objection: one person’s disobedience in extreme circumstances would not result in the State’s destruction

16 Arguments for an Obligation to Obey the Laws of the State Analogy: we are obligated to obey the State just as we are obligated to obey our parents, because both are responsible for our existence Objection: the analogy fails: as adults we are not obligated to obey our parents; we must think for ourselves

17 Arguments for an Obligation to Obey the Laws of the State Social contract: we benefit from civil laws institutions and that we indicate we support by our continued presence in a society Objection 1: we seldom, if ever, agree to be in a society or explicitly promise to abide by its laws Response: our agreement is implicit Objection 2: we have a general obligation to abide by the social contract; but there are occasions when such obligations are no longer binding

18 So if each of his arguments is weak, how do we explain Socrates’ mistaken assumption that he must drink the hemlock? Answer: Socrates doesn’t think of the responses mentioned above (e.g., that there is a difference between needing to obey laws normally and needing to do so always). In his mind, he is defined in terms of his relation to the State and so does not think of himself as distinct from the State.


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