• Overview of Philosophical key terms
• What is Philosophy?
• Overview of Presocratics and their
significance to philosophy
What Philosophy is…
• Focus of Introduction of Philosophy is our
relation to the world around us.
• Mental battle of consciousness
• Essence of particular topics
• Nature of the argument
• Search for clarity of private thoughts
• Invisible mental processes, desires, wants, thoughts
What Philosophy is not…
• Construction of new large theories
• Nor does it solve small questions
• Provider of one answer
• Dismantles ideas
Philosophy knows no bounds
• The reason for such random questions
shows that Philosophy knows no bounds.
• No question is off-limits to the lovers of
• Philosophers only seek to understand
Descartes challenged his
beliefs to the point
where he jeopardized
his own sanity.
He begins to question
his beliefs by critically
looking at the
foundation of his
We need to doubt
everything that can be
doubted until we land
upon a foundation that is
solid and securely
You have studied your values, tortured them,
and revealed their faults.
The values that survive such a process are
your free unbiased and untainted thoughts.
Values from wrong and right; the
guidelines you would follow in
areas of personal action,
decision-making, and relations
The Ethics branch of Philosophy
determine a number of logical fallacies
that help to objectively argue a matter
called Logical Fallacies.
Truth is a man
If we consider Ethics to be a person, then he
would evoke all his body and all his ability in
the pursuit of Truth.
We achieve life through a process of thinking
and practicing our truths.
Truth is life
Essentially, truth is the course to which all
mankind walks. Truth is then the path to
which we determine what is right and what
The Presocratics (c. 600-400bc)
Knowledge about the world
emphasizing the “natural world” as the
explanation for reality, as opposed to
the “supernatural world” & pursuit of
knowledge about the world and mans
place in it.
The cement is not
bending to the roots
The cement is not
space for the stock.
Instead the flower
must move, bend,
and strength in order
MEANS MEANS MEANS END
Rational theology and enquiry; attempt to define
and refine, in detail, the relationship between
God, the Soul, and the World
Presocratics form a union!!!
• Disagreements lead to formalized way of
• Methods formed to answer opinion vs.
• Enter schools of thought:
• Pythagoras, Thales, Anaximander
During the Presocratic era, knowledge and information
questioned the existence of man - why are we here,
and how do we live?
Education attempted to explain the world in more
natural ways instead of supernatural ways.
The whole fabric of Western Culture is still deeply
colored by Greek Assumptions, methods, and
What these Greek men concluded was if
there is an order to things than there is
practical philosophy. We can understand
the world; we can predict the world’s
outcome. The world was systematic and
not chaotic. The world was in our hands
and not in the hands of the gods!
• The pursuit of philosophy should be all
• Understand the world around you
• Understand your place in the world
Notas del editor
“The main concept of Philosophy is to question and understand every common idea that all of us use every day without thinking about them? A historian may ask what happened at some point in the past, but a philosopher will ask, “What is time?”…Anyone can ask whether it’s wrong to sneak into a movie without paying, but a philosopher will ask, “What makes an action right or wrong” (Pg 5)? Thomas Nagel
There are many philosophical tools often used to understand Metaphysics. Ancient Philosopher’s such as Plato and Aristotle debated over Plato’s Theory of Forms. Modern Philosopher Rene Descartes (die-car) offered his method of doubt to confirm reality. Finally, we look to the Mind-Body problem and Determinism. Each will be discussed in detail as the class progresses.
Love of wisdomPhilosophy, a Greek word that comes from a combination of philo (lover) and sophia (wisdom), or the lover of wisdom. Anything that claims to be knowledge or wisdom, Philosophy seeks it.
What’s interesting about a marble vase in not the shining outside but instead, the dull dusty inside of the vase. At first glance a marble vase has a shiny exterior with complex designs. The vase is beautiful and alluring. However, the inside is dull, dusty, and usually filled with exposed cracks. Philosophy is very similar. At first glance you might hear of an idea, concept, or belief and understand it on the surface. However, upon closer inspection, the idea, concept, or belief is not what you thought at all. There may be flaws, cracks, or imperfections that weren’t on the surface. Philosophy is a tool that exposes cracks in ideas. It provides tools to help you come to terms with the new knowledge gained.
Philosophy demands only one thing from you, that you dig deeper with an open mind.
Metaphysics is the branch of Philosophy dealing with the questions about reality and the nature of the world. This branch is the theory of everything. We must understand reality as being the ‘appearance of the world around us’ or, the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic version of reality. Our reality consists of buildings, cars, people, and animals whereas in the era of dinosaurs, reality was nature, dinosaurs, ice glaciers, and lava pits! We, as mankind of 2014, have a common reality with each other. We share ideas, concepts, and often times overlapping beliefs. We share global problems such as natural disasters, wars, and something as simple as a calendar year. Metaphysics tries to define reality as what the world appears to be, in our time, in the real world around us. Reality is not abstract ideas. We do not share a reality of flying cars, Artificial Intelligence, teatime on the moon, or trees that talk; those are abstract ideas that do not exist physically.
In Philosophy, the phrase “nature of” will be used often, so it’s best to understand it as representing a fundamental aspect of, core being of an object, basically the ingredients of a recipe. The ‘nature of’ a 13 year old teenager is eye rolling, Facbeook’ing, and making Vine/Youtube videos. The ‘nature of’ a soldier is honor, respect, will, dedication, and pure grit. The ‘nature of’ a dog is a wagging tag, unconditional love, and loyalty to his master. The ‘nature of’ Philosophy is logic and understanding – sweet and simple.
1: Jorn K. Bramann
Now back to Metaphysics - In the Miller text, he offers questions that fit into Metaphysics: What is Reality?
What is Real?
Can we really understand the world with our five senses?
Is our life predetermined?
The reason for such random questions shows that Philosophy knows no bounds. No question is off-limits to the lovers of wisdom. Philosophers only seek to understand deeper.
The branch of Epistemology (e-piss-tim-all-o-gee) is the study of knowledge and justified beliefs; theory of knowledge, or what does it mean ‘to know’ something, how do we justify our beliefs, and how knowledge is acquired. Epistemology is the instigator in Philosophy, the little brother always asking ‘why?” or the kid in class always wanting the teacher to explain further. Epistemology asks, “Can you really be certain, you know, what you know, to be true?”
I like to use the example of a kindergarten student learning her colors.
What color do you see above?
Would you say the color is Red?
I guess it all depends on the computer of course, but for argument sake, we can agree this is the color red. Where did we learn this was the color red? Were we told it was the color red as a toddler? We can agree that we personally didn’t assign the word “red” to this color but instead it was assign “red” long ago and that knowledge was passed down to us. Now we are certain this is the color red. Epistemology would argue, how do we know it’s not the color blue? How do we know we aren’t wrong? What justifies our belief in the color red? That’s the fun of Epistemology… or the frustration of it all, depending on how you look at it.
This enters into a critical area of trust with your own values. How can we be certain the beliefs we hold are beliefs we established? Descartes once challenged his beliefs to the point where he jeopardized his own sanity. Like many philosophers after him, he begins to question his beliefs by critically looking at the foundation of his beliefs. Basically, we need to doubt everything that can be doubted until we land upon a foundation that is solid and securely our own. You arrive at a point where you are sure your beliefs weren’t implanted in your mind, because you have studied it, tortured it, revealed its faults, and the values that survive such a process are your own, free of bias implantation and tainted words.
This is a very helpful video to show you how he arrived at his conclusion.
Beware, you might see this on the test!
The branch of Philosophy dealing with values and debating right from wrong is Ethics. Values are the guidelines to which you would follow in areas of personal action, decision-making, and relations, as according to the Miller text. Ethics fall under the umbrella of Values. What is right? What is wrong? What are the universal laws governing our society? Does the means justify the end? Out of Ethics comes Logic and Argument.
Ethics should be synonymous with morality; searching for the good in all things, objectively.
If we consider Ethics to be a person, then he would evoke all his body and all his ability in the pursuit of Truth. In a short essay called Understanding Evil by Badious, we are lead to believe that every man is merely an animal trying to get by in this world. We achieve life through a process of thinking and practicing our truths. Essentially, truth is the course to which all mankind walks. Truth is then the path to which we determine what is right and what is wrong.
Pause on that statement; what does that mean?
How does philosophy hope to achieve such a thing when our minds are so cluttered with so much noise? This leads us to a discussion about the Presocratics.
Consider the photo above; we have a simple flower growing out of the cement. It appears to be no big deal, just a flower with green stems and yellow petals. We could debate the flowers existence as a flower vs. a weed, but let’s side step that for minute. For a flower to grow, it must have dirt, oxygen, water, and sunlight. This flower seems to defy the odds with just the bare essentials. It’s not growing in the field with an abundance of soil, rather it’s growing with the smallest amount of soil. The cement is not bending to the roots, nor is the cement providing ample space for the stock. Instead the flower must move, bend, and strength in order to grow. Pre-Socratic philosophers were in the same situation. They were limited to the explanations and ideas of Greek mythos. They were not able to reach out and expand their knowledge without meeting resistance from their peers.
The ability to grow where one does not normally grow was significant to philosophy as it helped usher in a new way of thinking.
Have you ever defied an authority figure in your life, whether it be your parents, your teacher, or your god?
Has there been a period in your life where the past has dragged you down? Or, in other words, have past values instilled upon you felt constricting and abrasive?
Let me tell you a story about a group of people within the Ancient Greek civilization that grew tired of the same old ancestral stories. These stories claimed the mythological Greek gods were responsible for the rain, the tide, the stars, and the creation of all mankind. These people began to look at nature for answers, not so much the gods. Reason, contemplation, and sensory observation began to make more sense than stories, particularly to Thales, Anaximander, Parmenides, and Heraclitus (6th and 5th century BCE Greece).
1-Intro to Greek Philosophy, J.V. Luce. p.10
During the Presocratic times, you would still see much of the same, but knowledge and information was now punctuated with men offering a stories more down to Earth. Knowledge and Information was centralized in forums that discussed specific topics. These topics questioned the existence of man, why was he here, and how to live one’s life. Education attempted to explain the world in more natural ways instead of supernatural ways.
Our look into Ancient Philosophy begins with three Pre-Socratic philosophers, Thales, Anaximander, Parmenides, and Heraclitus. Each philosopher contributed at least one book to early philosophy. First, we must understand what is a Pre-Socratic Philosopher. Western Philosophy dates back to 600 BCE when Thales attempts to discover one common element in all of nature. Of course, the dates move left and right depending on which scholar you are speaking to but for argument sake, we will stick with 600 BCE. We say Pre-Socratic because it’s generally understood Socrates is the beginning of ‘scholarly’ philosophy. Socrates was so important to philosophy that we divide philosophy into Classical thinkers and Pre-Socratic thinkers.
Thales of Miletus (they-lees) (my-leet-us) (624-546BCE) – As far we know, he was the first to question nature, and thus became the father of Natural Sciences. Thales postulates through reasoning and observation that the single underlining substance in the natural world was water. He investigated everything from Math, Science, Engineering, and Philosophy in hopes of understanding how nature evolved. His approach to the world was new and bold; out of the current realm of understanding. He caused a revolution of thought – he clamed the chaos of the Gods. His works played a large part in Aristotle’s later studies. His primary claim to fame – he stated the Earth floats on water. He believed water had the potential to change all things into a new form.
Parmenides (par-men-i-dees) (510-450 BCE) – Author of a poem, not a body of lectures or essays. He wrote a story in poetic form about a goddess who related truth and justice to a mortal. Parmenides draws attention between the appearance of things and how it really exists in reality. This was present in Thales and Anaximander’s time but carried over much more so by Parmenides. He tried to point out that the world was constantly changing. He famously said, “you cannot put your foot in the same river twice.” The world is always changing and all we can know is that ‘change’ is the only constant thing, that doesn’t change.
The Presocratics include a variety of men but for our lecture will focus only on three or four. Each man that contributed to the overall big picture of Philosophy. Previously, the world was explained through epic poems and stories of the Greek gods. There were various myths that explained the rain, sun, and heat. Some myths would explain creation, death, and the afterlife. However, the Presocratics would see the world differently. For our study into the Presocratics, we need not focus on ‘exactly what they thought’, but ‘how they thought’.
Heraclitus (hera-clee-tis) (535-475 BCE) – Little is known about his life, which, forces scholars to elaborate his theories from what little sources we have available. He was said to have written his main corpus of work on a papyrus roll. His primary theory stated that all things change and the only thing you could count on his the constancies of change, or the Universal Idea of Flux. Heraclitus opens his book with a peculiar phrase, “Logos which holds forever”. Logos, Greek meaning a plea, word, or account, refers his principle that all things have an objective law that governs the cosmos. This was understood as an unchanging order to all things existing in nature. Every guiding principle exists under a set of laws that it must follow, or the system collapses. While the world is always changing, Heraclitus claimed logos is an order that self-regulates the cosmos. This he claimed was the power to grasp complex knowledge and thinking – a necessity in the thinking process.
Heraclitus was the first thinker to propose an alternative to straight observation. According to this picture, observation is still important in the search for knowledge, but reason allows the observer to go beyond the observational given.