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Philosophy 1010
Class #2
Introduction to Philosophy
Paul Dickey
E-mail Address: [email protected]
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,
adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
….. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Assignment – Due Next Week:
Logic Appendix 1.8 (Text, 9th edition. Please
see class website -- Assign Class Leaders
Complete the logic Homework Assignment also
found on the Quia site.
Philosophy Begins
with Wonder!
Wonder is an emotion comparable
to surprise and awe that people feel
when perceiving something rare or
unexpected. It is the emotion or
passion leading to philosophy and
The feeling of wonder is the mark of
the philosopher, for all philosophy
has its origins in wonder. …. Plato
What is Philosophy?
David Tanner, Group Leader
Plato’s Myth of the Cave
Plato’s Parable & “Doing
The Diversity of Philosophy
The Father of Western Philosophy
Socrates, 460-399 B. C.
Socrates' deserves credit for rigorous, ethical
investigation. His conversations with his fellow
Athenians are the first records we have of an
individual, by careful reasoning, trying to discover
the guiding principles of moral choices.
But be careful. There were many Greek thinkers
(actually known as “The Pre-Socratics”) prior to
Socrates who developed profound insights into the
nature of the universe and man’s place in it.
Socrates built a reputation on questioning
conventional beliefs, thus embodying the
nature of philosophy itself.
c. 427-347 B. C.
Plato is history's first great philosopher
because, among other reasons, he provided
the first set of answers to some of the largest
and most difficult questions: What is the
structure of reality? What can be known for
certain? What is moral virtue? What is the
nature of the ideal state?
No philosopher before Plato had ever
attempted such a wide and deep exploration
of philosophical problems.
The Allegory of the Cave
Plato & the Allegory
of the Cave
Plato was a student of Socrates. To better understand
what philosophy is, he describes the nature of
philosophy in the Allegory of the Cave.
Plato compares the state of man’s ignorance to living
at the bottom of an underground cave chained so that
such men cannot move. All they see are shadows
created by a fire behind them.
Through this symbolism, he then describes the act of
philosophy which he likens to the prisoners being
freed from their chains.
Plato is suggesting to us that this process is the
“ascent of the mind into the domain of true
knowledge.” Plato suggests that the aim of
philosophy is freedom from unwarranted belief.
So How Should We DO Philosophy?
Not “just anything goes!” Philosophy is guided by
the commitment to careful reasoning which is
“playing by the rules.”
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five
players try to score points by throwing or "shooting"
a ball through the top of a basketball hoop ...
The Matrix / The Allegory of the Cave
The Matrix Trailer
Ten Minute Break!
The Traditional Divisions of Philosophy
Jeremy Baldwin, Group
Is that all there is?
What Are the Major Fields of
(or rather, in contrast to other areas of study
such as biology where biology studies a
particular domain, Philosophy does not
necessarily have agreed upon assumptions that
it can rely on to define any domain of study.
Thus, metaphysics is more accurately “a
collection of questions that seem to group
together about what is real and what reality is
NOTE: Biology is the study of life or living matter in all its
forms and phenomena. To do biology, scientists thus must
work with an agreed upon view of what is life.
What Are the Major Fields of
1. Epistemology is “the study of knowledge.”
(or rather….)
What is the structure, reliability and kinds of
knowledge we have?
What is the meaning of truth?
Is scientific knowledge different than other forms
of knowledge?
Is the nature of knowledge different based on
In general, philosophers have
explained knowledge in two ways.
 Empiricists argue that all
knowledge begins with the senses.
 Rationalists argue that is
possible for the mind,
independently of the senses, to
gain knowledge.
What Are the Major Fields of
2. Metaphysics is “the study of reality
or existence.”
Does God Exist? What is the nature of
the universe?
Does man have a soul? If so, is it
Are humans free to choose for
themselves, or are all human acts
Monism is the view that all of reality is one kind of
thing. If, for example, you believe that all of reality is
matter, or that God is the only reality, then you are a
Typically, most monists are materialists. (But not all!)
In other words, they believe that the single unifying
feature of reality is matter. Holding this view,
materialistic monists argue that there is no God,
Heaven, Hell, soul, or any other "spiritual" part of
Dualism is the view that all of reality is
divided into two kinds of things. Thus, if
you believe that all of reality is divided
between the realm of God and the
physical universe, or that there is a "higher
world" and a "lower world", or that reality
is composed of spirit and matter, you are a
In general, most Christians are dualists.
They hold that reality is divided into two
parts. Our souls are eternal and nonmaterial; our bodies, like the physical
universe, are temporal and material.
What Are the Major Fields of
3. Ethics is “the study of values and morality
and how they relate to conduct.” (or
What is the nature of man’s obligation to other men?
How should we live to be good?
What responsibilities do governments have to their
Is man essentially selfish? Or can he be motivated
by principles beyond his own self-interest?
Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos for character. Ethics
is the study of the nature of morality and immorality, of how
humans should, and should not, act. A central ethical
question is, what is the source of moral values?
Here are three of several possible answers:
1. Moral values come from
God. If you hold this position,
then odds are that you believe
that genuine moral values are
unchanging and universal.
What is right, has always been
right; what is wrong, has always
been wrong. God's laws apply to
everyone, in all cultures. This
position would make you a
moral absolutist.
Moral values come from societies. If
you hold this view, then you probably
believe that moral values can
legitimately vary from culture to culture.
Each society can have its own
standards of ethical behavior. What is
right for the Chinese, may be wrong for
Brazilians, and vice versa. This position
would make you a moral relativist.
Moral values are determined by the
utility or usefulness of an action to
promote everyone’s best interest. If
you hold this view, then you are a
utilitarian. Utilitarianism was argued
by John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).
Ten Minute Break!
A Philosopher in Action: Socrates
James Brady, Group Leader
The Republic
The Apology
What is the Socratic method?
“Teaching by Asking Instead of by Telling”
Socrates engaged himself in questioning students in
an unending search for truth. He sought to get to the
foundations of his students' and colleagues' views by
asking continual questions until a contradiction was
exposed, thus proving the fallacy of the initial
This became known as the Socratic Method, and may
be Socrates' most enduring contribution to philosophy.
Socrates was both a real philosopher and the major
character in Plato’s (his student’s) dialogues. Thus, it
is not clear to what degree Socrates was a precursor
to Plato’s ideas or was a mouthpiece for Plato to put
forward his own views.
Plato’s Dialogues &
the Socratic Method
Plato’s dialogues demonstrate the Socratic Method.
In The Euthyphro, Plato shows Socrates questioning
traditional religious beliefs and the nature of religious
duty. He asks “what is it to be holy” and Euthyphro
says that being holy is “doing what the gods love.”
Class, has Euthyphro given a good answer to the
question? Does he really understand or is he just
assuming that he knows?
Socrates probes further: what makes a thing holy? Is
an act holy because it is loved by the gods or do the
gods love what is holy because it is holy?
If the first, are the gods capricious and random and
be able to select anything to be holy? If the latter,
then we have not answer the original question at all.
Plato’s Dialogues &
the Socratic Method
In Plato’s The Republic, Socrates questions
Thrasymachus who states that justice is whatever is
to the advantage of the strong, that “might makes
Socrates asks what if the powerful pass laws that in
error do not benefit themselves. Would not justice
then be following laws that do not benefit the
strong? Then justice would be in following laws that
do not benefit them.
Thus, Socrates has pointed out to Thrasymachus
that his commonly held view is quite likely
inconsistent, or at least needs to be qualified and
made clearer.
Plato’s Dialogues &
the Socratic Search for How to Live
Plato’s dialogues demonstrate that Socrates was
not just trying to be “smart” but was in the profound
pursuit of how one should live.
In The Apology, Socrates defends his way of life.
He proclaims that his mission came from a divine
commandment to seek wisdom. Thus, he
questioned everyone he professed knowledge to
find wisdom, only to find that the wisest man is he
who knows he does not know.
Even in the face of death, Socrates proclaims he
can act no differently. It is better to obey the
gods than man. The unexamined life is not worth
living. His pursuit of philosophy is following the
instruction of the gods.
Plato’s Dialogues &
the Socratic Search for How to Live
In the Crito, Socrates is awaiting execution in his
prison. Crito suggests that for the benefit of his
friends and family, Socrates should escape. “It is
the opinion of all of your friends, Socrates.”
Socrates replies that in order to act on reason
alone, Socrates asks Crito what is right and wrong
and we must not follow the “morality of the many”
but follow what is truly right.
Socrates further argues that what is the right way
to live consists in obeying the state in which we
have contracted to live. Thus, we must obey the
laws of the society in which we live, even when
those laws and actions are unjust.