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Philosophical Method and Main Branches of Philosophy

All scientific disciplines require sets of rules and laws, called methods, which are based on critical thinking and are essential for any research. Philosophy is not an exception here; the only difference is that while such sciences as mathematics and physics deal with specific fields of study, philosophy seeks to answer questions that are mostly universal. Philosophy is “about fundamental ideas, those upon which other ideas depend” (Vaughn 27); naturally, philosophical thinking is inherent to any human, since it helps to act consciously in day-to-day life. The science cannot provide one with a set of knowledge; instead, it can grant tools to approach the most topical questions in anyone’s life from different angles such as who I am and why I exist. Thus, philosophical thinking can be characterized by questioning, reasoning, comparing aimed at attaining an answer to a specific question or solving a particular problem.

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As for me, it is an inescapable part of my life, I can present numerous instances of using a philosophical method, but I will give one that is more recent. Several months ago, while browsing the Internet, I came across a page of a shelter which housed stray cats. Nothing unusual, but then I read one of their posts, which said that for the price of a cup of coffee I could cover three days of expenses for one cat, and it struck me. It made me think about the practical value of this simple cup of coffee I buy each morning. Suddenly, I realized that something that meant nothing to me could mean so much for an animal, already in a dire situation. I instantly sent them my $5 and signed up for a monthly donation, and I can say that this is one of my best decisions.

Philosophy has four main divisions: epistemology, metaphysics, axiology, logic. Each of them seeks to find answers to different questions of life. Epistemology is “the study of knowledge” (Vaughn 30); it attempts to answer questions that relate to the nature of knowledge, its sufficiency, and reasonableness. Metaphysics is “the study of the reality in the broader sense” (Vaughn 29); it focuses on the basics of the world and poses questions that are normally not addressed by science. Axiology is “the study of value” (Vaughn 30); it studies both aesthetic and moral value, the name of the study of the latter being “ethics.” It encompasses questions that concern moral principles, values, the nature of good and bad, and justice. Logic is “the study of good reasoning” (Vaughn 31); it deals with deductive and inductive reasoning, inferences, evaluation of arguments.

Each of the philosophical branches is extremely interesting, but the one that appeals to me the most is logic. In my view, everyone can benefit significantly from studying logic, since it provides a sturdy framework of reasoning that can be applied to particular situations. Sometimes, even asking a basic question of whether arguments used in a difficult conversation are reasonable enough can make a major positive impact on communication between two people. The practical core of this discipline makes it highly valuable for making better everyday decisions. Logic allows us to see things for what they are, and, as a result of having clear reasoning, one can develop rigorous argumentation. Practice and constant analysis of arguments belonging to other people using defined logical strategies will inevitably make one a more compassionate person who can easily understand what people really intend to say.

Work Cited

Vaughn, Lewis. Philosophy Here and Now: Powerful Ideas in Everyday Life. Oxford UP, 2018.

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