Initial questions in philosophy
Welcome to the Wikiversity Development Project for Initial Questions in Philosophy.
This course will introduce you with some philosophical methods, and guide you through some questions, that will hopefully force you to reevaluate your assumptions about the world. It is designed to be thought provoking, and relevant. At various times, the literature may seem immense and overwhelming, but take it in your stride. If you ever get confused, just ask for help. Abc123.
These are the main questions that we will be dealing with. They're just the tip of the iceberg, but they do cover quite a bit of ground. When you answer all of these questions, you will have a grasp on many of the fundamentals of philosophy. As well as that, you should be able to put together a pretty good argument.
- Truth, Justice and the Good. Sound familiar?
- Are Truth, Justice, and the Good objective realities or are they dependent upon experience for meaning?
- Is reality independent of perception?
- Why should we act morally?
- Can I survive bodily death?
- What does it mean to be human?
These questions will lead us to the following:
- What's up with language?
When we talk about Pegasus, we talk about an object that might exist. Should this mean that any proposition we make about Pegasus is valid? Since Pegasus might not exist, Pegasus might not fly, thus, the statement "Pegasus flies" might be false. However, If one accepts that "Pegasus flies", then one should also accept that nothing (true) can be said about any fictitious object, place or person and be proved otherwise. For example, people talking about works of literature (fiction) could be unable to utter true propositions, since the objects, places or characters they talk about are intangible. But if someone says that Pegasus is a wingless unicorn, then we know that this is not so, since Pegasus is neither wingless nor a unicorn. This means that we can assert statements regardless of the tangible existence of the object we talk about. Tangible existence is not a necessary quality of all objects, however by the mere discussion of intangible objects they become tangible in our consciousness. Pegasus has wings, if and only if Pegasus has wings. Pegasus has wings, since it has been so defined. There is no need for an empirical verification of this. The fact that Pegasus is an imaginary animal does not deprive it of its characteristics. One should not confuse the truth or falsehood of a proposition with the existence or nonexistence of the object in question.
- To be controversial, and stir you into passionate disagreement.
- Be able to read someone's writing to the end, and give it the credit it deserves. Especially when we disagree with it.
- When we disagree with something, to reply rationally and powerfully.
These questions may seem like quite distinct problems, but they will all interlink. By providing answers to whether or not we are in the Matrix, we can find answers to whether we should act morally. If there really is an unattainable "Good" that we should all strive for, then it is possible for things to exist non-physically, opening the possiblility of non-bodily survival.
There is no need to follow a linear pattern, although students will have been assumed to have learned what is in the first part before jumping into the second. Just do things as they feel natural. That's how the course has been written. Bear in mind that none of the questions ask, does God exist? That is because God's existence will not help us at this stage. Asking this question has led philosophers into trouble before. The main tools we will be using at this stage are intuition and reason.
Learning resources 
- Initial Questions - Mind, Reality, Language.