Philosophy 2 Essay, Research Paper
What does one think when they hear the word Philosophy? Before I began this class, I really had no idea what the word Philosophy meant. I use to think it dealt with a bunch of really smart people trying to figure out the answers to life’s most basic and essential questions. For example: Why are we here? Is there a God? Is their life after death? Etc. What I failed to realize was that not only does Philosophy answers these questions but it also gets us to question things that we never once thought of before. Take a chair as an example: When one looks at a chair, they see something that their mind recognizes as a chair. However, do we know for sure that what we are looking at is actually a chair, and not a table, or a couch? In asking these types of questions, and then trying to answer them, we in turn are gaining knowledge and wisdom. What then is Philosophy? It is the love of wisdom. It’s going out and asking questions to learn things we did not once know before.
Philosophy, as a discipline, is something that we study. Philosophy, as a personal activity, is something that we can live out. What does this mean? Take Christianity as an example. Jesus, the model of all Christianity, was in fact a philosopher. We, as Christians, try to live out, to the best of our ability, what Jesus preached. Treating our neighbor, as we would want to be treated is an example of a form of conduct that Jesus preached. Whether we choose to live according to this conduct, our personal activity, is solely up to the individual himself. We could also say that a discipline is a branch of knowledge and learning. We study medicine to gain enough knowledge to become a doctor; this branch of learning is that person’s discipline. How he goes about performing the duties of his practice, whether he is a general practitioner or a heart surgeon, is that person’s personal activity.
Philosophy is broken down into five main branches. The first branch is called metaphysics, which is concerned with what is real and what exists. Epistemology deals with human knowledge, in terms of the nature and limits of our knowledge. The next branch, aesthetics, deals with the understanding of what makes something beautiful. Such as, how does one tell that something is beautiful; is it just in the eye of the beholder? Ethics, another branch of philosophy, is concerned with the methods of good and bad, and right and wrong. Logic, the last branch, deals with correct reasoning.
All of these branches, while separate and unique in thought, are in some way or another interrelated. Its very difficult to answer a question based in only one field. Try as you might, you will soon find yourself delving into other fields so as to help you answer your question more completely. For example: Does God exist? In answering this question, you will first start in the branch of metaphysics. If, after pondering this question, you come to the assumption that there is a God, you must then ask yourself how you came to know this; which delves into the branch of Epistemology; the study of knowledge. You could then ask whether your belief, that there is a God, is of good or bad reason, which is answered in the field of Logic. As one can see, a simple question of whether or not God exists, stems into not just one, but three branches of philosophy, if not more.
One aspect of Western Philosophy deals in accordance with myths. Myths are supposed to open the world to mystery. They help us ask questions that philosophers are supposed to answer. Myths, and the stories that go along with so many of them, have been passed down from generation to generation to help people understand their existence. If this is true, and by definition it is, then is one wrong to say that God is a myth? What about the Bible and the stories it tells; aren’t they all myths too? Why do Christians use the Bible, and not, for example, The Odyssey. The Odyssey is based on myth, and when one thinks about it, so is the Bible. The Odyssey teaches us valuable lessons, and so does the Bible. The reason we use the Bible today, and not The Odyssey, is because that’s the “myth” we were exposed to when we were children. That is what we were taught to believe in.
The first and greatest Philosopher of all time, Socrates, didn’t answer every question that was posed to him. What he did was challenge people to think for themsleves, and most importantly, ask questions. From Socrates and onward, Philosophy grew and took off into a field of study that is used all over the world today. Is Socrates alive today? He most certainly is. We have Martin Luther King Jr., who died for what he believed in. Kenneth Star could be considered a Philosopher, for he pursued the truth in the case of Bill Clinton, just as Socrates would have done.
In reality, all of us could be considered philosophers, for we all, in one way or another, peruse truth almost everyday of our life. And that is essentially what philosophy is all about; pursuing knowledge and truth. Once we have found that knowledge and truth, we can then form our general beliefs about and attitudes toward life. This, along with everything that I have mentioned in this paper, has helped me to understand the nature of philosophy as I see fit.