Principal Texts (04:08)
Pre-Socratics started philosophy approximately 3,000 years ago; Socrates applied the concerns of mythology and religion to society. Plato's "The Republic" became the basis for discussion on what is essential to being a human being; contemporary philosophers discuss the idea of a soul.
Issues in Historical Context (03:53)
The tools philosophers use and the focus of their philosophy characterizes the three main periods in philosophy. The philosophical questions are essentially the same in all periods— metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.
Issues of Continuing Relevance (04:42)
Issues that philosophers continue to address include: mind vs. brain, human nature, morality, God, and what exists.
Meaning and Purpose of Philosophy (03:59)
James Harrington states that meaning and purpose comes from critical attention to human action. Philosophers look closely at arguments; what makes a good or bad argument? Philosophy is a body of knowledge in regards to philosophical questions; past and present writings are a guide.
The specialized vocabulary of philosophy includes terms of art: intention, skepticism, relativism, empiricism, and rationalism.
Basic Problems (04:17)
Philosophy has defined sub fields: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Harrington states that the "big debate" is consequentialism. Political philosophy evaluates social organization.
Analyzing Claims (04:14)
Many philosophers would argue that it is difficult to arrive at an absolute answer using different philosophical approaches; virtue ethics, consequentialism, and divine command theory. David Hume argued that all we know about the external world is the experiences we have; René Descartes supported an opposite argument.
Online Resources (04:36)
The Internet provides many formal resources on philosophy and philosophical writing including: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, philpapers.org, Three Minute Philosophy, The Philosopher's Magazine, and TedTalks.
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