PHIL 101 AMU week 1 lesson Introduction to Philosophy American Military University
Welcome to Week 1 of Introduction to Philosophy. This week we will begin our study of Philosophy with the Greeks, and specifically with Thales, as all Western Philosophy flows from this origin.
Students will be able to:
- Identify the main branches of philosophy.
- Identify the historical beginnings of philosophy.
- Distinguish philosophy from other ways of making sense of the world.
- Demonstrate an understanding of what makes a question philosophical and what “philosophizing” entails.
- Introduction Forum
- Week 1 Forum
Introducing Philosophy: What is Philosophy?
This week we begin our introduction to philosophy with various readings on the Greeks and the origins of philosophy. We will review and identify the main branches of philosophy, as well as identify the historical beginnings of philosophy. As you read the assigned texts and listen to the assigned videos, consider what distinguishes philosophy from other ways of making sense of the world. Is there a particular, identifiable “philosophical” method, or is it individually determined? Through this process of discovery you will also learn to understand what makes a question philosophical and what “philosophizing” means and entails.
Philosophy is an intellectual pursuit that people of all cultures and times have engaged in. But what is it all about? Some questions are easy to answer: What are you going to eat for supper? Is your dress shirt clean for the job interview on Monday? Other questions are harder to answer, such as: How do we know what is morally good? How do we know anything? Philosophers ask and try to find answers to the tough questions.
- What Distinguishes Philosophy from Other Forms of Inquiry
- Philosophical Methods
- Logic and Arguments
- Philosophy’s Three Primary Divisions in Subject Matter
- Sample Philosophical Topics
- Early Greek Philosophy and the Western Tradition
The Subject Matter of Philosophy
Philosophy is an intellectual pursuit that seeks to make sense of the world and our place in it in the most general ways. It deals with basic questions that people have always been asking, so its generality in subject matter and approach means that people it in all times and cultures have philosophized
How Philosophy Is Distinctive from Other Forms of Inquiry
Philosophy has been undertaken by people of all times and cultures: it is a universal human enterprise. It does not require any special tools other than the ability to reason and the desire to understand. It is also perfectly general: one can philosophize about pretty much anything.
With the advance of scientific knowledge, you might be tempted to think that philosophy has been superseded by scientific knowledge. In earlier times, philosophy was used to answer questions we would address by natural science today, but if there is more to knowledge and reality than what can be settled by observation, philosophy will always be a relevant enterprise. Philosophical inquiry addresses fundamental assumptions about knowledge and reality that cannot be settled one way or another just by observation, because any conclusions we come to are a result of interpretation and reasoning. It is the frameworks of interpretation and reasoning that knowledge is based on, that philosophy
Philosophy has always been characterized by stark, longstanding disagreements between thinkers. One might be tempted to think that this means there is no way to get to the bottom of anything in philosophy. But think of it this way: without the methods of philosophy, there would only be disagreements, and no way to adjudicate between them or give people any reason for embracing one view over another. Philosophy provides systematic ways of addressing disagreements: the reasoning process behind it means you can always ask why, and find out what is at issue and what the disagreement is about. Without that, all you would be left with is people just flatly contradicting each other.
Pursuit of Truth
The subject matter of philosophy means that conclusions are always up for grabs, but that doesn’t make it all just “a matter of opinion.” To engage in philosophy means pursuing the truth about things, so the underlying assumption is always that there is a truth of the matter to be grasped.
Understanding Beliefs You Do Not Accept
It has been said that it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it, and this is one of the things that is required in studying philosophy. Nobody can rationally agree with everything every philosopher has said, because the conclusions of different philosophers contradict each other. Therefore, to study philosophy is to encounter beliefs that you don’t yourself accept. Since the aim of studying philosophy isn’t primarily to tell you what to think, but how, you should be able to at least say “I can see how someone might think that.” Philosophy can thus teach you how a conclusion can be reached by reasoning, regardless of whether it’s one that you would accept.