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The Basics of Philosophy Empty The Basics of Philosophy

on March 7th 2020, 12:52 pm
Message reputation : 100% (1 vote)
There is no clear-cut definition of philosophy. Not even the practitioners of the profession - philosophers - really know what it is. However, one commonality among philosophers is the incessant thirst to increase one's own wisdom for the sake of it. In that sense, philosophy could be seen as the practice of wisdom.

Philosophical contemplation has encompassed a wide range of subjects, including reality, knowledge, science, morality, humanity, society, and so on. Usually such contemplation begins with a philosophical question such as "What is knowledge?" that various philosophical theories aim to answer. However, there are no universal, true answers to philosophical questions due to their nature. One cannot empirically observe what, for example, right and wrong are to arrive at the answer like in science. The tools of philosophy are logic, reasoning, conversation and rational thought; beakers and alembics have no use in solving the meaning of life. Still, despite philosophy seeking to answer more fundamental questions than science, it is closer to it than religion, for in philosophy there are no holy scriptures or divine authorities to appeal to and one's conclusions must be supported by analytical reasoning. Scientific discoveries can inform the philosophical thought when formulating philosophical theories, which religion and faith are rarely able to do.

To practise philosophy properly, one must hone its aforementioned tools. Of cardinal import are the virtues which a philosopher must have as defined by Aristotle: curiosity, skepticism, independent thinking, tolerance for differing views, and the ability to endure uncertainty. And when it comes to crafting one's own beliefs, two forms of reasoning one must also be familiar with: deductive and inductive. Deductive reasoning is the form of reasoning in which the conclusion invariably follows from the premises. This does not mean the argument itself will always be valid as the truth of the premises is different from the validity of the deduction, but a proper deduction will always be logical. Inductive reasoning, conversely, is not logical, but it is still unavoidable in day-to-day life. In essence, induction is generalization: the conclusion will probably follow from the premises but not certainly. An example in everyday life would be accidentally putting a hand on a hot stove and recoiling due to the searing heat, and then concluding that the hand should not be placed on the stove because it is painful, even though one instance of the hand burning does not prove it would burn in any subsequent instance. The entire scientific method is also based on induction, because ultimately one cannot prove that the sun will rise tomorrow even though it has risen every day millions of times before; the conclusion is probable but not guaranteed. In this vein, an argument does not need to be inherently logical to be valid, as inductive reasoning is simply unavoidable in most mundane topics. However, one should still be wary of being too hasty with generalization, and other logical fallacies should be eschewed as well. And finally, as it pertains to philosophical discourse between more than one person, the analysis of definitions should be understood as well. Sometimes disagreement is merely the cause of misunderstanding of what the other person means by certain words rather than a genuine rift in opinions.

Ultimately, though, one might conclude that practising a vague and amorphous concept such as wisdom and pondering insoluble questions is pointless. However, one who holds this view most likely doesn't realize that the very question of whether one should practise philosophy is in itself philosophical in nature, for it pertains to the greater question of how one should spend one's life and what is a good life. A simple refutation like "I would rather play football because I enjoy it" is also based on a philosophical theory, hedonism in this case. Really, there is no aspect of life where philosophy doesn't come up when one has to justify literally anything. It is therefore important to understand various classical philosophical theories and to hone one's critical thinking skills by philosophizing so one may be able to navigate the labyrinth that is life better. Truly, the ubiquity of philosophy should become clear from the fact that any justifications for disagreeing with the previous sentence are inevitably going to be philosophical.

The Basics of Philosophy Sheev_sig_3

The Basics of Philosophy Empty Re: The Basics of Philosophy

on March 7th 2020, 1:19 pm
Excellent post and great point on reasonable induction, which I think is somewhat underrated on these forums.
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