2 A Very Brief History of Philosophy and Its Various Branches *Note adapted from Sproule, Wayne. Philosophy in Action. Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003.
3 What Do Philosophers Study? The short simple answer – any topic, issue or problem can be the starting point of a philosophic investigation. The important matter is that the inquirer is concerned about it, and that it is the type of question that can benefit from reasoning or careful thinking.
4 Philosophy: What does it mean? In ancient Greek, the word “philosophy” meant “love of knowledge” (philo “loving” + sophia “knowledge, wisdom”) and was originally used to describe the quest for knowledge. A philosopher was merely one who quested for knowledge or wisdom. Over time, however, the quest for knowledge was divided into areas of specialty due to the explosion of new knowledge and new techniques discovered during the Renaissance.
5 Philosophy Has Three Big Problems or Questions What exists? (Metaphysics, Ontology)How do I know? (Logic, Methodology, Epistemology)What is valuable? (Ethics, Aesthetics, Political and Social)
7 Philosophy and its Branches: Metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy which attempts to determine what exists, that is, the basic structure of reality. Philosophers of metaphysics ask such questions as: What is the material world made of? What causes things to occur? What brings about change? Is everything permanent? What is time and space? What is God? Do we have free will? What is faith? What is evil?
9 Philosophy and its Branches: Logic Logic is the study of effective reasoning and solid argument. Logic helps us determine the strength and weakness of an idea, an argument or a proposed course of action. Logical study is further divided into three fields:Logical deduction, the processes by which conclusions can be reached with certainty.More recently, inductive reasoning with its probable conclusions was incorporated into the study of logic.Informal logic describes the thought processes we use in a number of areas of everyday life.
11 Philosophy and its Branches: Epistemology Epistemology is the study of what it is possible to know, and how certain we can be of that knowledge. Epistemology is often considered the basis upon which other branches of philosophy are built because is the bedrock which we use to determine what can be known and verified in any subject – observation and logical reasoning are crucial in science; eyewitness reports and physical evidence in law, etc. Philosophers of epistemology usually fall in one of two groups:Rationalists – who believe in the power of the mind to develop knowledge.Empiricists – who rely upon information obtained through the senses.
13 Philosophy and its Branches: Ethics Ethics is the study of how we should live our lives and how we should treat others. We use ethics in our search for specific and general rules of behaviour. Examples of questions a philosopher of ethics might ask are: What is right and wrong? Is there ever an okay time to lie? Why should we act ethically? Why do people have different views about what is ethical? How can we determine if an action is ethical or not?
15 Philosophy and its Branches: Social and Political Philosophy Social and political philosophy is the study of the fundamental principles of society and of the state. This branch of philosophy searches for the best forms of society and government. Political philosophers ask questions like: What is justice? Why do we have governments and laws? How can societies provide for human needs? What are the shortcomings in our own society and how can we deal with them? What is power?
16 Philosophy and its Branches: Arts, Sciences and other Disciplines Some philosophers study a specific subject or academic discipline such as the arts, sciences, history, law, education, or economics. In each case, philosophers explore the basic principles and goals upon which the discipline is based. They provide insight into the inquiry process in that field, the conclusions that are drawn, and the alternative ways to consider the subject.
17 What is a person. (35 hours) What are the component parts of a person What is a person? (35 hours) What are the component parts of a person? What is a self? Are the mind and the body the same thing or are they separate and distinct? Is there a soul and, if so, what is it? Can a soul exist after the body has died? Is a person a part of or separate from their environment? Can machines and animals be persons? How do non-Western traditions address these questions?Plus two or more of the following:On a Meaningful Life Can we define good and evil or are they defined by our religious beliefs? What is human nature? Moral dilemmas: What would you do in a particular situation? Is the individual the only legitimate judge of ethics? Does religion or the legal system provide acceptable standards for right and wrong? Should we determine the ethical character of an action based on the act itself or the results of the action? Are morals relative to an individual culture? Are there any acts that are definitively right or wrong?In Search of a Just SocietyIs there such a thing as a natural law? What is the justification for the existence of any form of government? What are the various forms of government? What are our rights and responsibilities to others and ourselves? What constitutes equality or fairness? How should goods and services produced in our society be distributed? What should be the limits of government authority over its citizens? What should be the limits of a citizen’s obligation to obey the government? What obligations do we have to address racial or gender inequalities? What factors help determine whether a government is just?Understanding Human KnowledgeWhat do we mean when we say we know something? Is “justified, truth belief” an adequate definition of knowledge? Is knowledge learned, innate, or both? How can we test the validity of knowledge? How can true be tested? Can knowledge be false? How can we know that the world as we experience it is the world as it is? Is there knowledge that humans cannot know?Aesthetics What is beauty? Is there an innate, absolute standard of beauty? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Is beauty a form of truth? Does beauty contain an ethical dimension? What is art? Does art have a purpose? Does art mean anything?
19 The Process of Philosophic Inquiry Asking QuestionsAll philosophic inquiry begins with a question, the goal of which is to determine truth and knowledge.Gathering InformationGather information about our topic. Usually start with our experience and thoughts about the topic. Second, make careful observations of the topic. Finally, look for comments from people who have already investigated the problem.
20 The Process of Philosophic Inquiry ReasoningOnce information about a philosophic inquiry has been collected, it must be organized, analyzed, and judged. It is important when you read or listen to a philosophic point of view or argument to understand and analyze as fully as possible what the argument is, and why it is being made. Reasoning requires that evidence or reasons are given to support ideas or arguments.
21 The Process of Philosophic Inquiry Forming a ConclusionThe end of a philosophic investigation is to determine your own point of view or conclusion.Defending A ConclusionAt some point, you may be required to express you point of view, and the reasons that support it.
22 Creation MythsIt is in the nature of humans to wonder about the unknown and search for answers. At the foundation of nearly every culture is a creation myth that explains how the wonders of the earth came to be. These myths have an immense influence on people's frame of reference. They influence the way people think about the world and their place in relation to their surroundings.