Philosophy Questions and Theories

Benefits of Studying Philosophy

The main benefit of studying philosophy is the ability to think critically and insightfully approach the issue. This is also the most practical of the benefits, as it can help in decision-making on the daily basis. Aside from that, philosophy provides means for interpreting interpersonal relationships and clarify many of the concepts of reality.

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Socratic Method of Teaching

The Socratic method of teaching is a dialectical method that revolves around group discussion of certain ideas or hypotheses and challenging its integrity by insightful questions. The method is consistent with the modern understanding of learning as it stimulates critical thinking, improves communication and reasoning skills, and invokes productive cooperation. Thus, it is a useful method for student learning.

Critical Thinking

Different schools of critical thought suggest different ways of approaching the philosophical issue. One possible framework is as follows. First, the issue is reviewed to determine the key points and relevant details. Then, the possible underlying assumptions, which are not explicitly present in the issue, are located and added to the key points. This data is then analyzed, and the relevant options or arguments are considered, weighted, and prioritized via elimination or other appropriate technique. The resulting solutions are tested in order of priority to determine their integrity.

Induction, Abduction, and Deduction

The deduction is a process where the fundamental rule is applied to the event to determine its outcome, such as deciding that a person will get sick based on the existing record of cases. The induction is the opposite process, where the rule is derived from experiencing the outcome of the event, e.g. observing the subject and determining the conditions under which the individual is likely to get sick. Finally, the abduction is trying to set a hypothetical rule by viewing the outcome and then apply it to the event to check for consistency. Thus, they have the same components but operate them differently to reach conclusions.

Areas of Philosophy

Metaphysics is an area dealing with the principles of existence, such as matter or the nature of mind and properties of the Universe.

Logic is an area that studies the principles of reasoning.

Ethics studies the driving forces behind human behaviors and decisions, as well as the moral principles.

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Idealism, Materialism, and Dualism

According to idealism, the existence of material phenomena is only possible under the condition that someone perceives it in some way. Idealism relies heavily on the concept of God and other metaphysical beings. Materialism is the opposite approach. It does not require the observer to guarantee the existence of the matter. What’s more, it stipulates that matter is the prerequisite for existence, i.e. nothing beyond matter exists. It denies God or any other metaphysical constructs such as a soul. Finally, dualism attempts to combine both views by recognizing matter, mind, and the possibility of interaction between them.

Four Views of Nature of Universals and Particulars

Platonic realism: the most extreme form of materialism which stipulates that the universe exists independently of the mind or the object. The particulars engage in forms, which are immaterial and abstract, and attain their properties as a result of the participation.

Aristotlean realism: the form does not exist in separation, the universe is determined by the particular and its qualities.

Conceptualism: instead of a common universal, the particulars share the concepts which are similar enough to make them comparable. The categories are defined by the mind.

Nominalism: the particulars are indicative of their properties on their own.

Anaximander’s View on Substance

Anaximander’s views on the nature of substance discarded its elemental nature or any other determination. Instead, he suggested a core matter he called Apeiron, which was not bound by any limitations and thus could account for all the diversity observed in the world.

Pythagoras’ View on Substance

The Pythagorean view of the nature of substance borrows heavily from that of Anaximander’s but modifies it. Pythagoras expanded the boundless quality of the substance by suggesting that the shaping of Apeiron takes place whenever a limit (Peiron) is introduced. The principles of formation are mathematically determined. Thus, the Pythagorean view is more comprehensive.

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Aristotle’s Four Causes

Matter (material): the contents or a source material of the object, e.g. metal, water, or stone, which defines the change.

Form (formal): a shape, pattern, or arrangement of the object. It includes logical and mathematical patterns such as proportion.

Agent (efficient): an external influence directed or related to the object which determines its change or movement, e.g. wind moving a feather.

End (final): a goal or objective intrinsic to the object, such as growth for a plant or falling for a raindrop.

Rationalism and Empiricism

Empiricism emphasizes experience and describes the process of learning as obtaining the information by observing the environment, attaching symbols to perceived elements, and rationalizing by involving the knowledge collected in this way. Rationalism relies on reason instead of unreliable senses. Importantly, rationalism also presumes the existence of innate knowledge, such as moral principles, understanding of Good and Evil, or the ability to learn a language. Empiricism, on the other hand, puts the trust in the process, not in the initial characteristics.

A Priori and A Posteriori Knowledge

The a priori knowledge is the information that does not require verification by the experience to be held correct. For such knowledge, the reason is enough to conclude. For instance, a statement that five identical stones are heavier than two stones of the same kind is the a priori knowledge. A posteriori knowledge, on the other hand, demands empirical evidence and is not verifiable otherwise. For instance, a statement that a cat is heavier than a dog is the a posteriori knowledge as it contains insufficient information to be confirmed by reason alone.

Foundatiolalism and Coherentism

Foundationalism suggests that all ideas and principles are formed based on other, more fundamental beliefs or principles. Such setting is one-directional, with the newer notions serving as sources of the next “generation”. It requires a “primordial” belief which initiates the process.

Coherentism, on the other hand, views the process as a set of interconnected, mutually altering principles, which constantly influence each other. It suggests a less rigid system and does not require a “primordial” belief.

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Pragmatic Theory of Truth and Correspondence Theory of Truth

The pragmatic theory holds that truth is determined by its consequences. This means that the truthfulness can be verified by the applicability and usefulness of the statement: once it is useful, it can be considered true. The pragmatic theory leaves the possibility of subjective judgment.

The correspondence theory holds that the truth is determined by the correspondence to reality. In other words, it is true only if its confirmation can be experienced. It relies on objectivity but is prone to perceptional interpretation.

Implications of Gödel’s Theorem

The first implication of Gödel’s Theorem is that within any formal system exists at least one statement of the language which can be neither confirmed nor disproven, regardless of the system’s consistency. The second implication is that such a system can not be proven consistent. Gödel’s Theorem implies that there is a feasible limit to the probability of any consistent formal systems in logic and mathematics.

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