Introduction to Philosophy
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This learning project introduces participants to philosophy, its major terms, themes and thinkers. Hopefully most of them will be interesting and enjoyable to you. Intro to Philosophy, like any "intro" to an academic topic, is always a little too broad. It is designed to give you the common foundation that anyone taking philosophy courses should have. Unlike more advanced philosophy courses, the reading should be relatively less challenging, and only be to get you ready for the real philosophy stuff.
A number of different approaches can be taken in organizing an introduction to philosophy course. One approach is to survey readings from the major areas of philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics and Value Theory. Another approach could be a historical survey from the Pre-Socratic philosophers to Post-modern philosophers. The last approach I will mention is a concise introduction that is somewhat of a hybrid between the survey and historical approaches. The approach consists of reading: Being and Time by Heidegger, Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant, and The Republic by Plato.
Intro to Philosophy deals with typical topics while trying to improve and innovate:
- Pre-Socratics (Anaxamander, Heraclitus, several important others)
- What is Philosophy? (Questioning(Socratic Method)/Philo Sophia(Love of Wisdom)/Philosopher opposed to the Sophist)
- Everything after Plato (done very quickly)
An intro course should prepare students for 300 level courses in the subject. Such courses in Philosophy assume basic knowledge and demand intense, challenging reading. Therefore, this course should give you the basic fundamentals that the higher Philosophy courses can build on. Typically, these are (among others):
What thinking was there before Socrates? How was Socrates different, a turning point? What about all that stuff since then?
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- Lesson 1: The Socratic Method
The ancient Socrates pioneered a method of inquiry which has been dubbed "The Socratic Method". The method consists of asking questions in order to penetrate deeper into various arguments and understandings about questions and issues. This logical tool is vastly helpful in challenging arguments non-coercively and allows a speaker to have an audience declare answers, rather than the inquirer. This tool can be used to challenge any belief or opinion, and can be very helpful for philosophers of all ages. The Socratic Method can be applied to challenging every position that a given person has; indeed, if each person were to challenge his/her views and take the opposite position on any issue, they would learn the perspective of other people and would learn more about the position they had initially chosen, which might lead to a deeper consideration of the possible beliefs one may have.
- Listen to one of these shows and then add related content to Wikiversity.
- Define philosophy.
Each activity has a suggested associated background reading selection. Gorgias is a dialog in which Socrates questions a practitioner of rhetoric, Gorgias, in an attempt to discover what rhetoric is.
-  Gorgias
- Study guide:
Additional helpful readings include:
Active participants in this Learning Group
Some think of Socrates as philosophy's hero. He was a citizen of Athens, a city-state in Ancient Greece.
The Socratic Problem:
Forming a historical picture of Socrates is problematic. There are no known text which Socrates authored. We learn about him through his students and contemporaries.
The Socrates that appears in Plato's dialogues is used as an example of philosophy. Socrates typically "plays dumb" (called Socratic irony) and the person he is speaking to does not seem to notice. In this way, Socrates leads the person, by asking them questions, to realize they really knew nothing. This "teaching by questioning" is referred to as the Socratic method. Over and over, the wisest, most famous and successful celebrities of Ancient Greece are revealed to know nothing when they agree to enter into a dialogue with Socrates.
This persistent, "wise" questioning is often presented as an example of a Philosopher. Socrates was a Philosopher, and these other people (professional teachers of rhetoric at the time) are called sophists, the most famous being Gorgias.
Plato (or Socrates) criticizes the sophism of Gorgias and other rhetoricians.
Read Plato's dialogue Gorgias to see how he criticizes him. That should really be enough for now. Leave the "pre-socratics" and the motivations of Plato and life story of Socrates for some other time.
--Seapal 19:34, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Aristotle's The Rhetoric
Aristotle was a student of Plato (and Plato was a student of Socrates). Plato's (or Socrates') ideas about truth (from The Gorgias) should be contrasted with Aristotle's break from Plato in this matter (see The Rhetoric). They both have every different concepts of truth (or "epistemologies"--ways of knowing--epistemology is the term for the branch of philosophy for the study of truth).
Aristotle, in a kind of handbook made from lecture notes by his students we call The Rhetoric, says something very different than Plato/Socrates about the value of rhetoricians (or sophists).
(unfinished) --Seapal 19:34, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Online - translation by W. Rhys Roberts
Introduction to Philosophy
Philosophy, from the greek philos (friend, lover) and sophia (knowledge, wisdom), etymologically means "the love of wisdom." The term originally comes from classical Greece, and was originally used by Socrates because he, as opposed to the wise men of his time, said that he did not know anything, but that he loved and was seeking out knowledge.
I only know that I don't know anything, and even of that I am not sure --Socrates
The task of the philosopher is to explore possibilities of belief and understanding in existence, and to develop critical thinking skills on the deepest, most profound issues. Curiosity is the hallmark of a good philosopher. Philosophy asks the ultimate questions about the universe, questions which seem to have no provable answers. Is there a God? Can anything be real? What is existence? These questions are often asked in Metaphysics, a branch of Philosophy. What is right?, what is really justice? A popular topic often discussed in Philosophy. What makes something beautiful, pretty, ugly, cute? Initial questions asked in Aesthetics. These are questions which have been asked since the dawn of time. They have all asked BIG questions, some have got answers, some haven't. But we still ask these questions to get better answers and to better our knowledge about the world. These questions will build a base, to what you will need to understand more difficult works in philosophy. To do philosophy, you need an open mind. To start philosophy I would recommend reading "Sophie's World." It is a great introduction and will really get you thinking! Enjoy!
"Sophie's World" is a high school-level fiction book, which was on my high school's summer reading list several years back. "Philosophy: The Basics" by Nigel Warburton also skims philosophical arguments (like "Sophie's World"), but in a non-fiction format.
This is the "Chapter 1 God" listing in its Table of Contents:
1 God - - 11 The Design Argument - - 12 Criticisms of the Design Argument - - 13 The Anthropic Principle - - 16 Criticism of the Anthropic Principle - - 16 The First Cause Argument - - 17 ...
The author (Warburton) cites who supports/supported each argument or criticism. Hume, Pascal, Kant, and others are name dropped in that respect. Read "Philosophy: The Basics" if you're not in the mood for fiction.
- Introduction To Philosophy An online text by Philip A. Pecorino.