What Is Philosophy?
Philosophy needs one to think beyond the practical ends, as it questions and makes everything look problematic. To take1 philosophy, one has to think beyond the practical world.
Plato (427-347) lived in Athens, under the reign of Pericles. He was Socrates’ follower and an advisor to emperors. Socrates (470-399 B.C) is considered the father of moral philosophy he lived in Athens under Pericles. He spent most of his life questioning and arguing with his contemporary’s questions of Justice, self-control, piety, virtues and friendship2.
In the book ‘The Apology’, Plato’s recounts of Socrates’ trial.3
John Locke (1632-1704) held that since God was a God of Truth, he would never require that we believe anything, including in God, against or without the natural light of reason. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) argues that the value of philosophy is not in any ability to produce material goods.
Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
A deductive argument follows a correct form such that if the ground is true, than the conclusion is also true. An inductive argument does not guarantee that true conclusions are obtained from true premises, rather it brings probability. The allegory of the cave involves dialectics, a method of asking questions to find the truth. Reality is relative and depends on the experience with people. The environment determines each person’s state of mind. Allegory is a story/narrative with two type of meaning-n literal and figurative meaning4. Figurative meaning implies that;
1. Philosophy is an act of moving towards the light of knowledge.
2. Philosophy is difficult because it questions our implicit basic notions, tends to think against tendencies, are consistent and critical and causes problems.
3. Freedom is the ultimate goal of philosophy, as it breaks us free from prejudice and un-thinking habits.
4. The beliefs that philosophy examines from the most basic concerns of human existence, the fundamental aspects of our lives
5. Men are victim of their own senses/ignorance.
Epistemology is the theory of producing knowledge. Binary Dichotomy- Dichotomy is opposition. For example, body and mind, Opinion and the concept of ‘Good and evil’. The chairness of a chair: Plato believed in the Divine world, and in the Human world. The essence is not the function, meaning pre-exists us, we are only here to identify. According to Plato, an idea has more reality than actual things, he wants something pure/uncut/untainted, and is obsessed with unity. In addition, his Ideas are more real than sensible objects. In Idealism, the idea is the source of knowledge. The ‘Good’ is the organizing principle of ideas, the universal source of ideas. Philosophy deals with teaching and spreading knowledge.
Socrates believed that it possible to enlighten people. However, Plato believed that 90% of the Population was the belly workers/craftsmen, whose purpose is a liability. About 8% of the Population was the ‘Muscle’, who acts as Guardians/Courage to protect. About 2% of the Population was the ‘Brain’, who are the Philosophers, Kings and Intellectuals. Plato says ‘I know that I know nothing’, and believes in the doctrine of positive reality/ideas. The ‘Dialects’ is method where one transforms philosophical ideas with dialogues, and is an art for generalizing things.
A Premise means the reason to accept the conclusion of an argument. A ‘Premise’ means the reason to accept the conclusion of an argument. A Conclusion is the statement provable with an argument. An argument is valid if its conclusion is following from its premise by logical necessity; it is in logic and math that the argument holds.
According to Socrates, knowledge is ungraspable. Man must keep asking questions In order to obtain knowledge. A man is finite and thus cannot achieve infinite knowledge.
The source of knowledge
Rationalism is A-priori meaning that it is not supported by fact, derived through logic. Plato says that ‘knowledge comes from heaven’. Aristotle believes on the ‘sense of the place in which we are living’. Descartes insists on reasoning. If one thinks of cognition (mathematics), one is not sure of dilution. Nevertheless, if one doubts, at least he is certain that he exists as an entity that is ‘asking questions’. Cogito refers to the process of asking questions. It acts as a thinking machinery (doubts and questions).
According to Santo Thomas Aquinas, the Proof of the existence of God is defined by two terms; Ontological- that God is perfect, and Teleological. According to Descartes says, a person is a finite being, because God put the notion of infinity in human heads. Thus, ‘Meaning’ comes from ‘brain’. Problems of Rationalism aims to know ‘How are we sure that we are sharing the same notion? In addition, human is the source of knowledge. According to Freud , the unconscious is expressed through language. Empiricism refers to the believe that all knowledge about the world comes from or is based on the senses. In the evolution of philosophy, certain people and dates are important. For example, Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1704) and David Hume (1711-1776) are important due to their contributions. According to Locke, there is no innate knowledge, the only thing that is correct is the universal consent –we all think. According to Descartes, there is no qualitative distinction between the experience and the object of it. According to Sensory Perception, Knowledge originates in sensory experience, physical objects exist even when you do not perceive them, and our ideas represent things themselves. For Locke secondary ideas are given to us by sensation. Perception is made up of three things; the Perceiver, the Entity, and the Sensory Experience
Copy Theory: David Hume was an atheist, who introduced principle of Skepticism. This refers to the sense when you are denying the existence of meaning. He made some Notions in this argument; He says the contents of our mind can be reduced to those achieved by senses and experience, which implies that there is no ‘A priori knowledge’. David Hume the existence of a world exterior to consciousness. The term Impressions refers to a very strong and vivid sensation5. Perhaps the external world does not exist! An apparent consistency in things leads us to believe that they have an independent existence external to us.
Kant vs. Hume
Skepticism and Empiricism theories
Metaphysics holds that everything involving God, morals, senses source and destination of our lives affects humans. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) creates a whole-istic system, where men are the subject or source of knowledge (instead of God). According to him, knowledge is universal and timeless. Kant’s resolutions are that reason can attain knowledge of reality. His Transcendental Idealism- holds that both experience and reason play a role in knowledge.
In 1784, he wrote the ‘Critique of pure reason’ to show how Cognition works. It starts by accepting Hume’s idea that ‘experience is the basis for true knowledge of reality’. However, reason also contributes something to knowledge. Hume says that cause and effect laws of science assume too much because we have no evidence for Universality in natural sciences6. Kant is stupefied by this and starts thinking that hard sciences do not prove anything he claims Hume’s awoke him from ‘dogmatic slumber’
The mind organizes connections between sensations. Category is a type of relationship between sensations. Kant says causality cannot be seen but not because it does not exist but because it is a relationship with things. Causality is a faculty the mind is born with to connect earlier perceptions with later ones and then our mind projects it into the world. The human mind is responsible for connecting cause and effect relationships. The theory of the two worlds proposes that there is a world that we perceive and do not perceive.
All we can know is the phenomenal world that we perceive after our mind has ordered it by putting our sensations together.’
Through deductive and inductive reasoning, human beings are able to determine and satisfy their doubts. The process of asking questions, developing problems and critical analysis of phenomenon is crucial.
What is scientific knowledge?
Hard Sciences require proof through experimentation. Most people say that hard sciences are the only truth of the world; validity impersonated. However, how can we be sure that knowledge is certain? Science claims that knowledge comes from our senses and our mind. In science, both inductive and deduction reasoning are applied. Inductionism associates with empiricism (sensation and experimentation) from the particular to the general. Rationalism uses deduction from the general abstract, theoretical to the particular. In Inductive Reasoning, the reasoning to probable general laws from many particular sensory observations. Francis Bacon (1561- 1626) wrote the book “Methodology” in which he refused to use Greek knowledge as valid, instead of accepting knowledge from the past we should investigate nature by careful observation and experimentation7. John Stewart Mill (1806-1873) improved Bacon’s methods by including Canons in order to sort out data8. While scientific knowledge is different from opinions, Pseudo Science includes areas such as astrology and alchemy. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) worked on the motion of falling objects, all objects fall at the same rate.
A Hypothesis is a creative guess as to what causes or creates science. It makes use of two elements; sensory observation and Experimentation. Science is recognized through methods rather than results; observation, hypothesis, and experimental verification.
Gasset, J. O. (2004). What is philosophy? New York: Norton
Heidegger, M. (2004). What Is Philosophy? London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Lamarque, P., & Olsen, S. H. (2004). Aesthetics and the philosophy of art: the analytic tradition: an anthology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.