Chapter 1 Question
1) Explain some of the benefits a
student may gain by studying philosophy.
The study of philosophy gives
students more than just knowledge of the world. It gives students a deep
understanding of how the world works and even how it “should” work. Besides
this important reason, there are three clear benefits that a student may gain
by studying philosophy. First, philosophy will allow students to develop the
ability to think, reason, and evaluate ideas all while provoking critical
thought. Philosophy also teaches students how to be happy, have a meaningful
life, and how to know the truth. Lastly, the students may gain the
understanding that truth may be objective and universal, but finding the truth
may be ambiguous and sometimes difficult. Additionally, philosophy also teaches
students that the journey is just as important and sometimes even more
important than the end result. An example of this is outlined in Chapter 1 of
our philosophy text book, where students often study to take a test, rather
than mastering the substance of their studies.
2) Explain the Socratic Method of
Teaching, Is this a useful way for students to learn?
The Socratic Method of Teaching
is considered to be a unique approach in teaching because of its methodology.
The method fosters critical thinking and involves giving students questions to
think about but not the answers. This method requires that students use various
sets of tools such as inquiry, analysis, evaluation and synthesis of thoughts
and ideas to come to conclusions. I believe this is a useful way for students
to learn because the questions posed by the teachers allow students to engage
in conversation about the subject. When questions are answered by the students,
sometimes it leads to a whole new line of questions which need to be answered.
I believe this creates an atmosphere where students are truly learning instead
of retaining information for a short period of time and eventually forgetting.
3) Explain how critical thinking
can be used to analyze a philosophical issue.
In order to analyze a
philosophical issue effectively, one must clearly use the process of critical
thinking. Critical thinking is an abstract idea in which the “thinker” engages
in while investigating facts and reasons and eventually evaluate the arguments
using the information gathered. With that being said, critical thinking is an
essential tool in analyzing philosophical issues. If the thinker can clearly
support their stance using facts and information gathered, the thinker’s
argument cannot be invalid. The great thing about philosophy is that there is
not one correct answer in a philosophical argument, just different stances and
points of view.
4) Compare and contrast
induction, abduction and deduction.
Deduction is a form of
reasoning/argument that takes a general statement then looks for a conclusion
that is logical. An induction form of argument is the exact opposite from the
deduction form of argument. In an induction based argument, the facts are first
gathered or observations are made, then a reasonable conclusion is made.
Abduction differs from both deduction and induction due to the fact that
Abduction is based on evidence presented then making a decision or coming to a
5) Explain some of the different
areas of philosophy which will be discussed in this course.
The following divisions of
philosophy will be discussed during this course: Logic, Metaphysics (Nature of
Existence), Epistemology (Theory of Knowledge), Philosophy of Religion, Eastern
Philosophy, Aesthetics, Ethics (Study of Right and Wrong), and Political
Philosophy. Logic is the study of rational thought which is a basic concept of
critical thinking and philosophy in general. Metaphysics deals with the nature
of existence. It attempts to answer questions about how the world is.
Epistemology is closely related to metaphysics, but instead of wondering how
the world is, it attempts to answer “How do you know?” Philosophy of religion
is broken down into two parts. The western perspective deals with proofs of
existence of three Omni (omni-benevolent, omniscience, and omnipotent) God, the
rationality of religious belief and the problem of evil. The eastern
perspective focuses on discussions of eastern philosophical systems such as
Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The concepts of reincarnation,
karma, and the connection between Taoist principles and traditional Feng Shui
are also discussed.
Another area of philosophy that
will be discussed is Aesthetics. Aesthetics deals with the thought of beauty
and making judgements about beauty.
Topics such as Art and what defines art are discussed in this section.
The area of ethics will also be discussed, wherein the evaluation of whether
something is right or wrong will be discussed. Finally, Political philosophy
deals with questions pertaining to the foundations, nature, and purpose of
government. This chapter closely
resembles the philosophy of law, and also deals with the analyzation of social
structures from both an economic perspective and political perspective.
6) Compare and contrast various
views on substance such as materialism, dualism, and idealism.
When discussing views on
substance, there are three main views to consider. Materialism is the thought
that reality consists of physical objects and their components. Some examples
of this are the car that you drive, the house that you live in or actually
television that you watch. Idealism is the complete opposite of materialism.
Idealism is the thought that all the objects that we encounter in the world are
considered nonmaterial objects and that the only objects we do have access to
in our mind is our ideas. In essence, this way of thinking suggests that
reality is immaterial. Finally, the last view to consider was suggested by Rene
Descartes, wherein he stated that reality of composed of two substances, which
are the mind and the body. In this view,
the body is considered to be “material”, while the mind is immaterial. Thoughts and feelings are grouped under
immaterial while our body exists in material space. Unlike the two previous
views, substance dualism combines materialism and immaterialism to form a new
George Berkley believed in
idealism. He stated that the only things that were real were ideas and that
world is composed of only two things, ideas and minds. In his view, substance
is something that we infer exists, but in fact we do not perceive. Thomas
Hobbes stated that the only thing that exists is a body in motion. He coupled
this thought with the thought that ideas and feeling are all physical entities
explained by the emotions of the brain. David Armstrong was a supporter of the
materialism view, and he believed that “there is only one substance and its
7) Evaluate the 4 views as to the
nature of universals and particulars.
To understand the four views as
to the nature of universals and particulars, we must clearly understand what
these terms mean. “Universals” is a name
for ideas or general concepts or terms that can be applied to various
particular objects. “Particulars” is a term used to described objects or
individual things that we encounter of the world. According to the textbook,
the “Universal” term includes words like blue, red, book, or car. Plato argued
that reality consists of the forms and that these forms exist in a separate
real. This view is known as platonic realism.
In this view, Plato viewed ideas as real. These ideas existed
independently and apart from our thoughts. Exaggerated realism is the idea that
Universals do not exist in particulars as part of what makes them similar. In
this view, the particulars have the universals within them and ideas exist in
the physical objects and our minds, but not in a separate reality.
Conceptualism is a view which
claims that ideas are real but they are dependent upon a mind of thought. The
function of a universal term is to denote a special relationship between particular
objects. Lastly, extreme nominalism states that universals do not exist. In
this view, ideas in the form of universals and forms are not real objects and
they do not have real existence. Only particulars or individual objects exist.
8) Explain and evaluate the view
of Anaximander regarding the nature of substance
Anaximander (610-546 BCE) was one
of Thales pupils, in the city of Miletus (known as modern day Turkey). Thales
sought to discover the primary substance of reality. Anaximander stated that
the primary substance is in fact boundless or infinite. He doubted whether any
fundamental or primary substance would exist in an observable pure form.
Analyzing Anaximander’s idea, we can say that in a sense he was correct,
because we do not observe a primary substance anywhere in the world.
9) Explain and evaluate the views
of Pythagoras regarding the nature of substance.
Pythagoras (570-480 BCE) was of
the idea that the truth about reality was in numbers, which never lie. To this
day, Pythagoras is still known for his famous theorem in which the square of
the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is always equal to the sum of the
square of the two other sides. This
theorem is verifiable and impossible to falsify. In Pythagoras perspective, to get to the
nature of a substance, you have to understand the numbers. Since an answer in numbers can be verified
and cannot be tampered with, answers in numbers are considered to be the truest
form of an answer.
10) Explain Aristotle’s 4 causes.
Aristotle believed that if we
asked the right questions, we would get a better understanding of reality. He
developed four questions and named them the four causes. These sets of
questions laid the foundation for what would later be known as the scientific
method. The first question is: “What is it”? The first question, while basic,
gets the subject to think critically of ways to answer. The second question:
“What is it made of?” asks the subject to ascertain the nature of the
material(s). This leads to the third question: “How was it made or who made
it?” Answering either of these questions would provide clarity to the nature of
the item and might be useful in answering any of the previous causes. The last
cause: “What is it for?” Answering this question in itself might be difficult
to a subject. If you analyze the last cause and all the previous causes
together, the subject might be able to gain a better understanding of the whole
11) Compare and contrast
rationalism and empiricism
Rationalism and empiricism are
two methods that attempt to explain the various ways we can arrive at
knowledge. Rationalism is a method of acquiring knowledge by means of logic and
reason. Empiricism is a method of acquiring knowledge by means of observation,
inquiry, and experience. In rationalism, one does not necessarily need
experience to have knowledge. The difference between these ideas is that in
rationalism, once can come to a conclusion by their own thought process using
logic and reason. Empiricism requires one to observe, asks questions, and may
require one to pull from previous experiences to come to a conclusion.
12) Explain the difference
between A priori and A posteriori knowledge.
A posteriori knowledge is
knowledge that is acquired as a result of an experience. As a kid, you often drive around with your
parents. Being in the car with them, you know that when their foot hits the
right pedal when they are driving, the car will come to a halt. Later in life,
when you are driving, you draw from your experience as a child and remember
that if you hit the right pedal while driving, your car will come to a halt. A
priori knowledge is knowledge that is arrived at without experience and is
necessary and certain. An example of this is found in our textbook. The
statement “a cat is feline” is an example of a necessary and priori statement.
As long as you understand the concepts of felines and cats, then you understand
that a cat is necessarily a feline.
13) Compare and contrast
Foundationalism and Coherentism.
Foundationalism is a theory that
argues that our knowledge claims must be based on basic and true beliefs and
that these basic beliefs provide a foundation for all knowledge. Coherentism is
distinctly different from foundationalism in the sense that Coherentism denies
the notion that there are basic foundational beliefs and instead argues that
many of our beliefs are justified by other beliefs. The text has an interesting
way of describing these two beliefs in that Foundationalism is a “Pillar of
knowledge, with foundational belief at the base” and Coherentism is presented
as a “web of beliefs that in turn justify each other”.
14) Compare and contrast
pragmatic theories of truth with the correspondence theory of truth.
The correspondence theory of
truth states that a belief is true and only true if it corresponds with
something that exists in the world. Alfred Tarski developed a theory of truth.
An example of this theory is as follows: “My belief that a table is in the room
is true, if and only if there actually is a table in the room”. Pragmatic theories of truth claim that, in a
sense, truth is relative. This theory claims that a statement is true if it’s
useful to believe. For example, individual A believes in God as a part of his/her
religion. In this sense, God exist. For Individual B, this is not the case
because Individual B does not believe in Individuals A God because he does not
practice the same religion. In essence, for something to be true in the
correspondence theory, something must rely on something else that exists in the
world. In the pragmatic theory of truth, truth is relevant to the individual,
science or society, and does not depend on any other factors.
15) What are some of the implications of Gödel’s Theorem?
According to Gödel, the human
mind is superior to any machine and can work out truths that no artificial
knowledge will ever reach. His theorem demonstrated that there are certain
truths within any closed mathematical system that cannot be proved within that
system. Gödel’s theorem also states that if a system is internally reliable,
then it cannot be considered complete. He thought that there would always be at
least one truth that cannot be proved but is nevertheless true. Additionally,
his theorem prohibits the possibility of machines, such as computers. The most
a computer can do is imitate the human brain, but there will always be
something that technology cannot prove.