Introduction: Wisdom for Life: A Guide to Western Philosophy (01:26)
This PBS documentary on Western Philosophy was produced in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. It makes the case for the West and in particular the West’s pluralistic approach to reasoning and morality. Interviews with nine clear thinkers give an introduction to Western Philosophy, emphasizing the concepts of building up a moral system, the golden rule, the basics of logic (premise and inference), and pluralism. The program looks at the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Otto Neurath, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, and John Rawls. Interviewed are Akeel Bilgrami, Taylor Carman, Arthur Danto, Virginia Held, Diana Meyers, Susan Neiman, Bernard Reginster, Richard Rorty and Achille Varzi. The program was originally produced in 2005 and remastered in 2017. In this opening segment, James Thomas cites important questions we must answer for ourselves. Understanding how we grapple and embrace ideas is an important aspect of humanity.
How Can Philosophy Change our World View? (04:44)
Written works by prominent philosophers have influenced the shape of our consciousness. Questioning assumptions provides a deeper understanding of self and others; self-conscious reflection first began in Greece.
Logic- An Essential Tool (06:20)
Ancient Greeks are the first to recognize that logic leads to true conclusions. The principles of reasoning are codified; logic is topic neutral. Philosophers study the relationship between statements to identify the pattern. Logical systems developed to eliminate doubt have not survived.
Logical Systems and Doubt (08:47)
Experts discuss Descartes' propositions of indubitable ideas, foundations, and application of the Euclidean model. The discovery of mathematical, logical, and natural uniformities leads to the modern age of thought.
Compatibility, Luck, and Faith (07:07)
Testing our beliefs for compatibility and letting go of inconsistent ideas is the backbone of a philosophical approach; consider John Rawls' model. Philosophers discuss religion and the conflict between science and theology.
Faith vs. Fanaticism (05:26)
Experts discuss the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, and theological and philosophical responses. Fanatics have an objective and a certainty that they are right.
Catastrophes force people to consider how they make sense of the world. The word terrorism is relativistic. Experts reflect on political violence, the failure of democratization, Arab civilization, and Islamic perspective.
Closing the Gates (09:33)
In the 12th century, scholars codify definitive interpretations of the Quran, making independent reasoning undesirable. The denial of independent reason can be dangerous. Experts discuss what can be done to reduce conflict; look for arguments within the values of cultures.
New York City (03:40)
The city comes close to the secular ideal that was first introduced in Moorish Spain. Major divisions between people have changed little since the time of Plato and Aristotle. Philosophy can help us identify and argue for universal values.
Credits: Wisdom for Life: A Guide to Western Philosophy (00:53)
Credits: Wisdom for Life: A Guide to Western Philosophy
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