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Introduction to Philosophy

Spring 2010
Phil 100
So, what is philosophy?
• Philos-Greek for “love, affection for..”
– Think, ‘Philadelphia’, the city of brotherly

• Sophia—Greek for “wisdom”

– Think, the girls name, our word ‘sophisticated’
Of course, that isn’t terribly
• Until we know what wisdom is
• Knowledge?
– Then were Theodore Kaczinski (Unibomber) or
Ted Bundy (serial killer) wise? Both were
extremely intelligent.
• Experience?
– Then is the oldest person the wisest?
The dictionary says,
The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting;

• That sounds plausible. And maybe we

could compare it to common sense (not a
bad comparison)
• But how do we get it?

• Aristotle (a really smart guy) says, we gain

it by learning AND experience.
May I suggest that it is gaining
the ability to reason correctly
• This would accord with the purposes of this
course, as listed on the syllabus.

• But where did it come from?

Think, Ancient Greeks
• The commonly accepted originators of
Western philosophy.
• Think, sitting out on a field with a few other
guys, and talking (because there wasn’t
much else to do).
So, someone would ask a
seemingly innocent question….
• Say, Why does the sun go through the sky
from east to west?
• And someone else tells a story, such as,
Helios (Apollo?—long story) is riding
across the sky in a chariot.
• Ok, it sounds implausible, but it WAS an
Every culture had the same sort
of thing going on
• The Norse explanation for thunder….

• The Hebrew explanation for a rainbow….

• But they were not all that satisfying,

because they were UNFALSIFIABLE.
But this was the beginning—and
more and more people wanted
• And GOOD ones, ones that could be proven
false, if they were

• This is the basis of sound reasoning, and it

developed into the philosophic disciplines
we know today.
• μετα (after) + φυσοσ (nature) term coined
by Aristotle
• Asks “What is real?” “What does it mean to
be human?” “Is there a god?”
• Main concern of Greek philosophers
• Subfields—ontology, philosophy of life,

• Επιστεμε (know) + λογοσ (study)

• “How do we know?”
• Knowledge vs. Belief
• Main concern of Renaissance Europe
(Scientific Revolution)
Subfields—philosophy of mind, philosophy of
science, philosophy of language
• “branch of philosophy devoted to
determining what counts as solid,
disciplined, reasoned thinking.” Thomas White
• Important to all areas/fields of philosophy at
all times
• Must speak the same language/same
• εθοσ (manner or way)
• “What is right?” “What is moral?”
“What is valued?”

Most important since the Industrial Revolution.

Subfields—social philosophy, political philosophy