1. Explain some of the benefits a student may gain by studying philosophy.
A student can benefit from studying philosophy because this course employs critical thinking. Through investigation and different forms of analysis, students learn how to form arguments in order to defend an answer to a question posed. Ultimately these skills can be used in any field; developing proofs for mathematics or physics, preparing the defense or prosecution of a case in law, facing ethical problems in politics, and even in the field of medicine. Any type of student with any major can benefit from the skills acquired in a philosophy class, both in their career and in the grand scheme of life. Students can develop and explore their beliefs, and essentially find a purpose and discover their role in this world.
2. Explain the Socratic Method of Teaching. Is this a useful way for students to learn?
The Socratic Method is a useful way for students to learn because it develops their critical thinking. The process of asking questions helps students reach conclusions on their own. Each question that follows hones into the base of the answers searched for through deductive/inductive reasoning and other types of analysis. Questions help bring about counter arguments and allows broad coverage of different perspectives. This ensures that the student has approached and question the problem/thought from every angle.
3. Explain how critical thinking can be used to analyze a philosophical issue.
Critical thinking is used to analyze a philosophical issue by creating a premise and a conclusion. Philosophy branches out to almost every field of study and explores human nature. Metaphysics uses critical thinking through the Socratic method. Epistemology poses questions serving as the transition from the premise to the conclusion, asking how we know something. It utilizes critical thinking through knowledge that originate from past experiences/observations to the logical analysis of ideas. Critical thinking is also used in ethics, a philosophy that further analyzes the answers posed in epistemology but through the lens of our society in determining if it is right or wrong. All these philosophical approaches to understanding the world around us depend solely on critical thinking. Without man’s ability to think critically, would philosophy even exist?
4. Compare and contrast induction, abduction, and deduction. Note: example used is flawed but effective for the purpose of understanding the relationship between the three forms of reasoning.
Deduction is a process in which we see a rule or premise and come to a conclusion based on that rule. Take this statement for example, “If my shoe laces are untied, then I will trip”. So if I looked at my laces, and saw they were untied, I would deduce that I will trip. Induction forms a rule based on the end result or conclusion. So, using the example of the shoe lace, if I see someone fall, and then notice that their laces were untied, I would come up with the rule that
“if my shoe laces are untied, then I will trip”. Inductive and deductive reasoning essentially mirror each other. Finally, abduction is almost a way to check the rules and results acquired through induction or deduction. So, if I see someone fall again, using abduction I would look at their shoes to check If their shoe laces are untied. If they are, then I know that my statement is true, and if not then it is false.
5. Explain some of the different areas of philosophy which will be discussed in this course.
The different areas of philosophy were mentioned earlier in question three as examples to how critical thinking would be used in analyzing philosophical issues. Metaphysics has to do with existence and our understanding of what is real. This includes subareas of ontology, cause and effect, free will and determinism, existence vs subsistence, and many other topics that help lead us to answer the ultimate question of metaphysis “what is real?” Epistemology builds upon metaphysics by asking how we know something is real. Aesthetics is another area of philosophy dealing with our interpretation and judgement of beauty. Why do we think this piece of art is beautiful? Why do I feel sad when I look at Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Old man in Sorrow’? These questions and the analysis that leads us to understanding why our senses interpret such things to be beautiful is the philosophy of aesthetics.
6. Compare and contrast various views on a substance such as materialism, dualism, and idealism.
Materialism explains that everything that exists and has matter is real. In order words, matter is what matters. Things like our soul and thoughts are not real and unimportant, whereas idealism argues the complete opposite. Idealism is best explained in how Plato describes what we perceive in his unwritten doctrines. Essentially all we perceive, and experience is not true, but only a projection of the True Form. Dualism is a combination of these two views and is encompassed best in the words of Descartes, “I think, therefore I am”, which states both thought and matter are real and dependent on each other.
7. Evaluate the 4 views as to the nature of universals and particulars.
Form is a word used by Plato to describe the “true” objects that exist in a separate realm. Very similar to the explanation in the Bible how God created humanity in “His image and likeness”, Plato’s Forms can be compared to God, the separate reality being heaven, and humanity being the objects we perceive and experience in our reality. Extreme (Platonic) realism is the view that Forms, or universals, exist in a separate realm and that objects in this reality imitate the intangible Forms. Then there is exaggerated realism, which holds that universals exist in certainties as part of what makes them alike. Ideas exist in the physical objects (like our minds) and not in a separate realm as viewed in Platonic realism. Furthermore, there is conceptualism, which asserts that ideas are real, but depend upon our own thoughts. The essential function of a universal term in this view is to denote a relation between certain objects. These universals
are ultimately concepts created in our minds by examining these certainties. The last view is called extreme nominalism, which claims that these universals/forms do not exist. In this view, ideas are not real objects, only particulars or individual objects exist.
8. Explain and evaluate the views of Anaximander regarding the nature of substance.
Anaximander followed the idea brought about by Thales, “all is water”, essentially implying that there’s is a basic substance that serves the foundation of our reality. Whereas Thales claimed it was water, Anaximander believed it was air, and that the different objects we see were merely just the manifestation of different densities of air. He also claimed that air’s truest and pure form was limitless, and that any substance in this pure state would most likely not be evident or observable in its true state. He was not wrong in this sense, for today we know that everything is made up of atoms, and its form has not been truly captured but just replicated in models that visualize theories.
9. Explain and evaluate the views of Pythagoras regarding the nature of substance.
Pythagoras unlike Anaximander believed that the nature of substance relied on numbers, and that they composed our reality because math is always true. Math can be tested countless times again, but its rules are always true and can always be proved. In fact, the language that is undoubtedly certain, sound, and undeniably true is mathematics. Therefore, Pythagoras believed that something so pure and perfect must have already existed. It is our existence, our reality.
10. Explain Aristotle’s 4 causes.
Aristotle classified all the causes of change in the world into four categories. These causes essentially encompass all the answers to the question “why?”. The first cause is the material, which askes what is it and what is it made of. For example, a book is made of a leather-bound cover, ink and paper. The second cause is the formal cause, which basically deals with the shape and design of the object or change in question. Why is the book shaped like a square? Why is it designed the way it is? The efficient cause asks how it was made. Did someone type the pages and bound the book together? This cause deals directly with the entity that brought about the change of turning the matter into the design of the form. And the final and most appropriate cause is the final cause, which begs the question, what is it for? In the case out our book example, the book’s final cause is for acquiring knowledge by reading.
11. Compare and contrast rationalism and empiricism.
Rationalism is the concept of innate ideas, reason, and deduction; whereas empiricism is the concept that there are no innate ideas, we rely on sense perception and induction. Now, even though rationalism and empiricism differ on the surface, they both have to do with the
meaning of our existence by forming claims that try to discredit the notions of the other philosophy situated on their skepticism of conflicting perspectives.
12. Explain the difference between A priori and A posteriori knowledge.
A priori uses logic and reason to come up with a conclusion before experience, such as mathematics or understanding the meaning and definitions of words. So, two plus two is always four, and we know that all widows had husbands that passed away. Whereas A posteriori is learning through experience, such as learning how to ride a bike, or understanding pain when you fall of the bike.
13. Compare and contrast Foundationalism and Coherentism.
Foundationalism argues our knowledge claims must be based on basic true beliefs and that these notions provide a foundation for all knowledge. Coherentism is opposite because it denies the belief that there are basic foundational notions, instead arguing that many of our beliefs are justified by other beliefs, and that all of our beliefs must work with others. For instance, what if I brought up the issue that mass shootings are happening due to the unregulated and lenient gun laws, if there aren’t any accurate facts to my statement, then that’s foundationalism, but if able to show me a few examples of how a shooting could have been directly prevented had these laws been enforced/made stricter, they you’re showing coherentism.
14. Compare and contrast pragmatic theories of truth with the correspondence theory of truth.
Pragmatic theory of truth are assertions that truth is relative, meaning that the belief in the truth must have a close connection with success in the action. The correspondence theory of truth is, a notion is true if and only if, it follows with something that exists in the world. That it can be established by a fact, with it being both clear and reasonable. For example, “the car is on the road” is true if there is a car and it is on the road.
Gödel’s theorems regard the bounds of probability in theories of formal self-evidence. These results had a large impact on the philosophy of logic and mathematics. There have been many efforts to use these results in other areas of philosophy like, philosophy of mind, but having been attempted, these applications have become far too controversial. They have raised several disputes on the issue as to whether the theorem of Gödel can decisively invalidate logicism.