Humans have an essential activity called reflection, in which they recall their experience and then analyze, evaluate, and meditate on it. Learning relies heavily on the practical application of knowledge gained through experience. Through critical reflection, we learn by immersing ourselves in an understanding and then deconstructing it using our prior knowledge and theoretical frameworks. This essay reconstructs what we have learned about philosophy so far in this course from chapter 1. As a broad and complex field, philosophy can take time to grasp. Given the diversity of human thought, philosophizing and philosophical inquiry naturally lead to questions about potential outcomes, semantic depth, and alternative perspectives.
The ability to consider multiple perspectives, some of which may be similar, others contrary, or even vastly different from one another, is a skill that is both necessary for and developed through philosophical study. Suppose philosophizing entails looking at things from different angles. In that case, there is a philosophy for everything one can think of: religion, art, games, mathematics, children, the environment, history, knowledge, science, and the social sciences, to name a few (Letiche & Moriceau, 2012). It is not just that there are different philosophies about something; there is also the act of philosophizing itself. When we try to understand something from multiple perspectives, we are trying to become a part of a conversation that’s been going on for a long time. If we are careful and honest, we can add something to it.
Despite its long history and status as one of the most important branches of human knowledge, the true meaning of philosophy continues to haunt its adherents even today. Philosophy professors often feel “stuck” with introductory courses that are notoriously challenging (Hein, 1972). Even though it has been around for over two thousand years, the thousands of people who practice this area of knowledge still need to work on communicating and finding common ground. Trying to define and express in exact words what philosophy means is one of the hardest things to do. The educated and the uneducated continue to wonder if the esoteric language of philosophers can be reduced to a single definition.
Philosophy is derived from the Greek combining forms “Philos” and “Sophia,” which mean “love of wisdom.” Pythagoras (V BC) coined the term to characterize exchanging information. Wisdom would no longer be reserved for the gods, and the philosopher would be the one to cherish and seek it out of a thirst for knowledge (Letiche & Moriceau, 2012). Philosophy, since then, has come to mean the efforts of deep thinkers to penetrate the heart of matters. The core principles, rather than the surface level, are little particulars. Philosophy, thus, is the pursuit of knowledge that cannot be determined with absolute certainty by observing or measuring things in the physical world. It looks for items that are hard to find through scientific investigation. Philosophy aims to determine which side of an argument is more reasonable.
Think about the great philosophers like Socrates, Napoleon, and Plato, and recognize how much they contributed to the development of the modern social sciences. As a result, no reasonable person could have any doubt that these individuals existed in their bubbles, with little to no agreement among them. For instance, Plato believed that the issue with humanity was moral behavior. That man would live better if subjected to better moral training and justice. In his quest for justice and the betterment of humanity, Plato set out to write the Republic. It is interesting to see that people only hold certain philosophical opinions if there is no opportunity for trial. So, he claimed to want to protect the justice he actively worked against when things got tough. Carl Marx, like Plato, believed that the people’s primary problem was simply a lack of morality and that, with the proper education, everyone would be a good person. However, Schopenhauer’s philosophical convictions about virtues were limited to the pages of books. He went around spreading the good news of a virtuous society, but in his daily life, he became too cruel and unjust to live up to the principles upon which his philosophy is based. Hence, philosophical introspection is helpful because it allows for an in-depth, all-encompassing examination of one’s thoughts. Actions are aimed at higher levels of understanding and truth.
Philosophy takes a unique approach, which can be summed up as reflective thought. According to the theory of Rational Reflection, no matter how the decision will affect the individual, it should be made consistently whenever the stakes are high (Kørnøv & Thissen, 2000). Example: Socrates thinks that to be just and fair, he must apply his beliefs to everyone. The legal status of same-sex marriage is an application of this principle. Even though our friend’s mother has always been homophobic, she has recently made gay friends. Based on the rational reflection principle, she would conclude that the law should not be passed because this was her position before coming to her gay identity.
Accredited philosophers from Africa insist that their discipline be transparent, systematic, and rational. There is an intuitive link between what is rational to believe and what is rational to believe that one is rational to believe (Papineau, 2007). Let us take a more categorical approach to think about beliefs rather than a more nuanced one. One can conclude that one cannot rationally hold both the belief that X and “the belief that” one’s belief that X is not rational (Christensen, 2010). In terms of justification, the idea is that one’s justification for believing X can be defeated by higher-level doubts about the justification of one’s belief that X.
Beginning in ancient Greece and continuing to the present day, the concepts of reason and Rationality have been at the center of heated debates in Western philosophy. Knowing how we think helps us better appreciate our uniqueness as humans and our world. We can think of reason as the sum of our mental abilities, the capacity to form hypotheses, absorb information, draw conclusions, evaluate options, and make decisions based on values and guidelines (Amoretti & Vassallo, 2013). In this context, irrational processes, such as mindless obedience to authority, wishful thinking, guesswork, or blind faith, are synonymous with a lack of rational thought. Rationality, then, can be reduced to the routine use of reason in pursuing knowledge about and mastery over the physical and social environments. Logic, the study of sound reasoning, is closely related to the study of knowledge or epistemology. The problem of the nature and possibility of epistemic justification has made reflection a topic of interest in epistemology (Filho, 2016). When understanding the relationship between the mind and the external world, epistemology is the theory of knowledge. Some epistemologists hold that a person is justified in believing what they do because they have reflective access to the content of their beliefs and the reasons these are based on.
The normative function of philosophy
It is generally accepted that various normative requirements apply to us. In contrast to other disciplines, philosophy is characterized by an intense focus on normative concerns. It explains why philosophizing is considered a normative field of study. Rational requirements may call for consistency and coherence. We have a moral obligation to advocate for the greater good. For a second, we must look out for our interests because that is what good judgment requires. Ultimately, we must adhere to the lawmaker’s directives because we cannot avoid doing so. One definition of normative ethics is “the study of ethical action,” or examining the proper response to a moral conundrum. It looks at criteria for determining whether or not a given action is morally permissible. Normative ethics examines conduct, while descriptive ethics probes moral convictions. Normative ethics examines whether or not these beliefs are correct, while descriptive ethics focuses on the proportion of people who think action is ethical. Therefore, normative ethics can be helpful in applied ethics, which is the philosophical study of how one should act morally in various situations.
Normative requirements serve as a response guide in providing a standard for what is expected. To direct our actions and inform our deliberations, we need normative requirements. It has been argued by Fink (2012) that only process requirements can serve as response guides. The author argues in the book that response-guiding requirements can only be process requirements. We can divide the normative concept of Rationality into theoretical and practical aspects. They advocate for measuring theoretical Rationality by its cognitive efficacy and practical Rationality by its ability to improve people’s lives and encourage them to work together. Using this knowledge as a starting point, researchers examine Rationality’s origins from a philosophical and psychological perspective. Their research identifies three distinct trajectories of human cognitive development: biological, cultural, and personal. Cognitive abilities in humans are often attributed to the evolution of language and society. The second distinguishing feature is that technological development and the capacity for causal reasoning emerged simultaneously in human society. Human cognition is built on a division of labor between specialized cognitive modules and general-purpose nonspecific learning and reasoning mechanisms, which evolved over our species’ history.
Truth has both instrumental and non-instrumental value, and the normativity related to the notion of truth is not an intrinsic feature of that value but rather an external feature (Floyd, 2012). Judgments about the appropriateness of discourses, actions, or institutions are examples of normativity, as this term is used here. So there must be criteria for determining the veracity of normative claims, which is an irreducibly epistemic aspect. To this end, normativity concerns the discursive actions by which agents recover justifications for their claims (Frega, 2015). Despite these severe objections, many standard philosophical practices continue to assume that central intuitions about the primacy of justificatory moves the following. In normative theory, the possibility of separating theory from practice, the normative’s relative independence from the empirical, and the importance of discourse all hold. As a result, our understanding of normativity continues to center on the concepts of value, norm, and institution (Christensen & Bickhard, 2002). These concepts’ defenses and critiques continue to consume the most productive philosophical efforts.
The subject matter of philosophy
Scientific inquiry, mathematical study, and religious observance were the intellectual pillars upon which Western philosophy was founded in Ionia. Thus, it has maintained its present-day overlap in subject matter and inquiry approach. The focus of philosophical inquiry can be traced back to the types of questions that have been asked throughout the discipline’s history (“The Subject Matter and Methods of Philosophy,” 2012). Regarding methodology, philosophy and mathematics are concerned with exploring the consequences of ideas. Some areas of philosophy share common ground with the natural sciences regarding their respective domains of study. Philosophy, like science, claims to explore the world of natural phenomena, but its inquiries go beyond the physical and temporal.
The types of questions that motivate the creation of a particular field of study to determine what that field of study is. The questions are understandable if we know where to look for the answers. Ordinary people know how to find answers to questions like “Where is my phone?” and “Why was Mr Trump elected President of the US?” Even if we do not have the answers, searching the person’s pockets, car, Etc., is standard procedure when a question involves a phone. When looking for the kind of empirical evidence that leads to the relevant conclusions and makes them, if not inevitable, at least probable, we turn to the writings of specialists in the case of Mr Trump’s election. It means we know the factors that make specific hypotheses more likely than others. The fact that we believe the answer is discoverable through empirical means makes this type of question comprehensible for a start. The methods of common sense and the natural sciences, as well as any methods derived from them, are used. In another group of inquiries, we already know the best way to find the solutions. These are the “formal” disciplines, such as mathematics and logic, in which problems are solved by applying predetermined rules based on predetermined axioms.
However, the question of whether the results natural scientists obtain about phenomena are obtainable by methods used in philosophy is raised by a cursory examination of the methods philosophers have used in their investigations. The former is an empirical method, while the latter is a priori and relies purely on reasoning. Contrasting to the evidential data found in the sciences, the philosopher’s observations on the existence and nature of phenomena are unlike those in the sciences. It makes us wonder if there are ever instances where his approach coincides with that of an actual natural scientist. However, it cannot be denied that he relies almost exclusively on a methodology similar to that used in mathematics and formal logic.
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