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Philosophy and the Search for Wisdom

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1 Philosophy and the Search for Wisdom
Archetypes of Wisdom Douglas J. Soccio Chapter 1 Philosophy and the Search for Wisdom

2 Learning Objectives On completion of this chapter, you should be able to answer the following questions: What is philosophy? What are the primary areas of philosophy? What is an archetype? How does an archetype differ from a stereotype? What is wisdom? What is knowledge? What is belief?

3 Philosophy Etymology: from Greek roots meaning, “the love of wisdom.”
Philo (love). Sophia (wisdom). We sometimes, perhaps wrongly, use the term “philosophy” to refer to a person’s code of values or the beliefs by which they live (such as “Abby’s philosophy of cooking”).

4 What is Philosophy? Philosophers are especially interested in the arguments (reasons) offered to support our ideas. “Philosophy” proper consists of the systematic, comprehensive study of certain questions that center on meaning, interpretation, evaluation, and logical or rational consistency.

5 Philosophical Questions
Philosophical thinking includes careful assessment of terms, evaluation of logical reasoning, willingness to make refined distinctions, and so forth. But, what exactly are philosophical questions?

6 Examples of Philosophical Questions
Does God exist? What is the meaning of life? Could a parent ever be morally justified in letting her child starve to death? Why do innocent people suffer? Is it rational to believe something when all evidence is to the contrary? Is everything a matter of opinion? Did philosophy originate in Africa, China, or Greece? What is the best form of government? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Do women and men think in different ways?

7 The Branches of Philosophy
Metaphysics – the study of “ultimate reality” or how things really are. Epistemology – the study of knowledge or how to tell when we really know something. Ethics – the study of moral problems, right and wrong, and practical reasoning.

8 More Branches of Philosophy
Social and political philosophy – the study of the origins and nature of the state. Logic – the study of the rules of correct reasoning. Aesthetics – the study of feelings and judgments related to beauty and art.

9 Archetypes An archetype is an image that all humans use to represent the essential qualities of some “type,” the epitome of some kind. Archetypes have been around throughout history – in myths, legends, and dreams. Psychologist Carl Jung ( ) claimed that archetypes are integral to how we think about things in general.

10 Philosophical Archetypes
A philosophical archetype is a philosopher who expresses an original or influential point of view, significantly affecting subsequent thinkers. Philosophical archetypes are strict advocates of a particular philosophical worldview or philosophical method. They challenge the beliefs of other philosophers.

11 Philosophical Archetypes versus Stereotypes
Philosophical archetypes are powerful representations of a fundamental response to universal experiences. Archetypes exemplify essential ways of coping with universal aspects of life (love, loss, society, wealth, knowledge, purpose, suffering, death) in uncommonly pure ways. Stereotypes are simplistic distortions of a type of person that lack depth.

12 Are Philosophers Always Men?
The history of Western philosophy contains mostly men, leading to the charge that it is a study of “dead white males.” While there were many women in the history of philosophy whose work went unacknowledged, today many more women are joining the ranks of professional philosophy.

13 The Search for Truth Philosophy is perhaps the most “open” of all subjects, since no question or point of view is off limits. The history of philosophy has been described as “the history of heresy,” since it challenges us to question even our most cherished beliefs. As the philosopher Baruch Spinoza put it, “I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of the peace.”

14 But Isn’t All This Just A Matter of Opinion?
Sometimes it appears that there is no clear cut right or wrong answer to philosophical questions and issues. However, if we view philosophical problems as just a matter of opinion, we may be (wrongly) led to adopt relativism.

15 What is Relativism? Relativism is the belief that knowledge is determined by specific qualities of the observer. In other words, absolute (universal) knowledge of the truth is impossible – one opinion is as good as another.

16 The Goal of Wisdom Remember: philosophy is a love of wisdom!
The chief goal of wisdom is a fundamental understanding of reality in relation to living a good life.

17 The Goal of Wisdom By combining these and other branches of philosophy, a person may gain an understanding of how all knowledge is related. The attainment of wisdom involves reflection, insight, learning from experience, and a plausible conception of the human condition.

18 The Need for Knowledge One of the most important elements in the attainment of wisdom is knowledge. Philosophers generally think of knowledge as some form of true belief. They usually make a distinction between theoretical and practical knowledge.

19 Types of Knowledge Theoretical knowledge involves accurate assessment of factual and systematic information and relationships. Practical knowledge consists of skills needed to do things like play the piano, build things, perform surgery, ride a bicycle, or bake a cake.

20 Belief and Ignorance In contrast to knowledge, belief refers to the subjective mental acceptance that a claim is true, though it need not actually be true. There is a difference between an informed belief and mere belief, which tries to validate itself. The only evidence for a mere belief is the act of believing itself.

21 Willed Ignorance If we hold onto a false belief regardless of the facts, we become victim to willed ignorance. Willed ignorance is indifference to the possibility of one’s error or enlightenment. This is the opposite of the love of wisdom. Ignorance is not an option.

22 Discussion Questions To what extent do you think an individual’s gender and ethnic background should be considered in evaluating his or her philosophical beliefs? Do gender, ethnic background, and other factors (age, income, etc.) control what we think? Is your response to this question dependent on such factors?

23 Chapter Review: Key Concepts
Philosophy Metaphysics Epistemology Ethics Social and Political Philosophy Logic Axiology Aesthetics Ontology Archetype Philosophical Archetype Relativism Wisdom Knowledge Theoretical/Practical Knowledge Belief Mere Belief Willed Ignorance

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