Introduction to Philosophy - Daniel von Wachter

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Introduction to Philosophy - Daniel von Wachter

Introduction toPhilosophyDaniel von Wachterhttp://von-wachter.de


Survey• Examples of philosophical questions• Views on the method of philosophy• Reading philosophical texts• Writing philosophical texts• Computer tools


Examples of philosophicalquestions• Are there discoverable, non-reducibleduties? (non-reducible means: notidentical with something else, e.g.“commanded by the law”)• Are there universals?• Is there a God?• What is free will? (What kinds of free willcan be distinguished? What can be called“free will”?) Do we have free will?• Do we have a soul?


Outside of philosophy• Discovering laws of nature (physics)• Discovering the structure of matter(physics)• Discussing what Hegel meant by „Geist“• Discovering when Rome was founded


Types of philosophicalquestions and tasks• Existence questions (God, soul, universals)• What would be ... (e.g(e.g. . a free action)• Form and define concepts• Modal questions, i.e. questions aboutpossibilities (e.g. could one be guilty forsomething one did not do freely?)• Describe a certain object or area of reality


Areas of philosophy• “Metaphysics”• Not always distinguished clearly fromphilosophy• Greek: “After physics”• The books besides Aristotle’s book “Metaphysics”• The topics beyond physics


The classical notion ofmetaphysics(e.g.. Christian von Wolff)• Metaphysica generali• ontology• Metaphysica specialis• theologia rationalis• psychologia rationalis• cosmologia rationalis


Metaphysics today• The problem of universals• causation, laws of nature• identity• free will


Areas of philosophy• Metaphysics• Ethics• Epistemology• Philosophy of religion• Philosophy of mind• Aesthetics• Political philosophy• Philosophy of science• Philosophy of nature


What is philosophy?• Defined through object or throughmethod.• What is the object?• What is the method?• Bernard Bolzano (1849):• „Philosophy is the science of the objectiveconnection of all those truths which weinvestigate in order to become wiser andbetter.“


What is philosophy?(Bolzano)• Immanuel Kant: Philosophy is the system ofknowledge from pure concepts• Herbart: Forming concepts, removingcontradictions they contain• Krug: The science of the orinal form of thehuman mind• XY: Solving the mystery of the existence ofthings and of the destiny of man• XY: Striving for knowledge of the universe• XY: Striving for knowledge and love of God inknowing and acting


... What is philosophy?• XY: The science of the connection of all things with theultimate fundament of all being• The science of all things as they are in God• The science of all sciences; the original science• XY: The doctrine of truth (Wahrheitslehre)• XY: The science of that knowledge which comes from themind of man• The science of the conditions of human knowledge• XY: The science of the absolute. The scientificpresentation of rational thought.• Hegel: The science of reason being aware of all being• XY: The thinking of the identity of thinking and being.• Schelling: : The concept of philosophy is a result ofphilosophy.


What are the objects ofphilosophy?• One answer: concepts• Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): 1804): the copernicanianturn• Required (like René Descartes and Christian vonWolff) apodicitic certainty in philosophy• We cannot know “things in themselves”• Investigate the “conditions of the possibility” ofknowing and thinking• Investigate the “categories” of our thinking, i.e. wayswe have to think. “categories” understoodtraditionally


... What are the objects ofphilosophy?• The linguistic turn (ca. 1930): metaphysicalclaims are meaningless. Philosophy can onlyinvestigate how we speak.• All necessary claims are analytic, all analytic claimsare necessary. Against the phenomenologists’“synthetic necessity” (“synthetic a priori”)• Positivism: All knowledge comes through the senses.Philosophy gives us no knowledge about the world,only about ...• Two schools: ordinarly language philosophy; ideallanguage• Reconstructionist positivists (Gustav Bergmann):Metaphysics is possible, but only throughinvestigating language.


... What are the objects ofphilosophy?• Peter Strawson (1959, Individuals) ) is a conceptphilosopher: “Descriptive metaphysics is contentto describe the actual structure of our thoughtabout the world, revisionary metaphysics isconcerned to produce a better structure. ...Perhaps no actual metaphysician has ever been,both in intention and effect, wholly the one thingor the other. ... This book is, in part, and in amodest way, an essay in descriptive metaphysics.Only in a modest way – for though some of thethemes discussed are sufficiently general, thediscussion is undertaken from a certain limitedviewpoint and is by no means comprehensive.(p. 9, 11)“


... What are the objects ofphilosophy?• Today in anglosaxon philosophy:Metaphysical questions are asked, butoften addressed by investigating language• The method of ontological commitment• The method of transforming statements• The method of conceptual analysis(investigation “logical form”)• We have been led to the question aboutmethod.


Good and Evil24.8.2009Daniel von Wachter


Info• http://www.jcu.edu/philosophy/gensler/exercise.htm• Have all received the emails?• There will be a mid-term exam.


Task until Wednesday• Until Wednesday:Write down the claim of culturalrelativism.• Write concisely, i.e. short and precise.• Always read very carefully the tasks. Doexactly what it says. Often you have to answera question which is easily misunderstood.


Task until Mon. 31. Aug.• Give (in writing) one concise argument forcultural relativism and one against it.• Do not write about c.r. but give arguments for andagainst it.• You need to have read: ECI (Ethics:contemporary introduction), 2-20220 andECR (Ethics: contemporary readings), 43-57.• Read also: ECR, 1-42. 1• All these readings are obligatory. Further readingswill be given on the website and in class, but lookalready now in the library and in the internet.


The method of philosophy• Independent of all experience? Three views:1. Immanentist philosophy: Independent of allexperience; the objects are not things in themselves(not about „the world“) ) but concepts or categories ofthinking2. Reconstructionist: : The objects are things inthemselves but the method is linguistic orconceptual3. Descriptivists: : The objects are things in themselvesand the method is not linguistic but insight (apriori) or senses or evidence.


Intuition• Is there a kind of experience which is distinct orindependent of all sense experience? Empiricistsdeny this, phenomenologists (e.g.. Max Scheler)affirm it.• This way of knowing can be called intuition or apriori (versus a posteriori)• We might know through intuition:• moral facts• modal facts (might include describing essences)• mathematical truths• the existence of God (although perception of Godgenerally is not called “a a priori”)


The aim of philosophy and ofthis course• Give true answers to philosophicalquestions and defend them.• Say what counts in favour of this answer• Use or criticise arguments of other authors• Describe the objects.• Do not write about arguments but givearguments


Reading philosophical texts• See phil-reading.pptreading.ppt.

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