What is Philosophy?
In the beginning of this course, this very same question was the theme to our first assignment. My summarized view was; philosophy is the study of truth by asking questions and answering them with our objective reasoning of our perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs. The metaphor I used to represent this analogy was that philosophy is like a painting. I also stated that philosophy was not as important nowadays as it once was. Are these still my view on philosophy?
First of all, how would we define philosophy? I would say that the definition I gave the first time was quite good but not accurate enough. I would redefine my definition as follows: Philosophy is the study of truth and reality, with a method of asking questions and generating answers from perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, and ideas.
This definition alone may be satisfying but it does not tell us what we can learn in philosophy. I assume the reason most people enroll into a philosophy class is to gain wisdom, more knowledge, and comprehend a new way of thinking rationally. With that said, the study of philosophy can be quite a broad study but, you’ll certainly gain some wisdom. This study is broad in the way that it’s not possible to specialize in all fields of its’ study.
So, what are the fields/branches of philosophy? Well, historically Philosophy was divided into 3 main branches; these were: Natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy. In fact, many modern day studies are rooted from these three branches (e.g. science, psychology, economics). So, that was back in the past, But what about now? Today, modern day philosophy is primarily composed of following branches: Aesthetics, Logic, Ethics, Epistemology, and Metaphysics.
Philosophy has played a critical role in human history. It has arguably been just as fundamental and impactful as mathematics. Most of philosophy’s impact has been on individuals’ ways of thinking in societies. Influential philosophers and their ideas were the main root causes for historical events and creation of new political ideologies such as the French Revolution, Utilitarianism, Marxism, Fascism, etc. Influential Philosophers to be noted are: John Locke, Renee Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, and Voltaire.
My favorite unit was logic. I thought this lesson was quite useful, I didn’t know what constituted a rational argument and now I do. The Logic lessons were also quite fun.
In my personal opinion, Philosophy 12 was not as difficult as some in this class claim it to be. I don’t think the course material and the concepts we went over were too complex and unreasonable to understand and comprehend. But I think that’s because its’ our first year learning what philosophy even is and therefore the units weren’t gone into as deep as actual philosophers in college go into. The class discussions were quite interesting most the time, but I feel that they were constantly being dominated by the same group of people and whenever disagreements arose, a large body of people rose in opposition and their responsive arguments were emotionally structured rather than logically, this disencouraged people from participating and the class did not feel fully open to everyone.
To conclude my essay, I must say that in the first week of this class I thought philosophy was a useless study in the 21st century and people who chose to major in this in university would be very limited with their career options once done with university. I’m not too sure on whether that second part of my statement is true, but I have changed opinions on the importance of philosophy in the 21st century. I think some of the branches of philosophy can be used in conjunction to several other studies and be quite contributive. For example, Ethics could be used in conjunction as a minor or second major for those pursuing political science as their career; or logic for those pursuing law with theirs. So I certainly don’t think philosophy is a useless study nowadays, but don’t think it’s as impactful on society as it used to be.