Philosophy notes from all 3 classes
Philosophy notes from all 3 classes PHI101
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ashley hughes on Tuesday February 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHI101 at West Chester University of Pennsylvania taught by Paul Harris in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see Intro to Philosophy in Arts and Humanities at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
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Date Created: 02/23/16
Thales of Miletus: first philosopher in the western tradition. First philosopher to use reason (logos) and explanations for his theories. Formulated the first metaphysical theory (metaphysics relates to reality. What is everything made of)? Believed everything was composed of water and that the earth floats on water. Predicted a solar eclipse in 585 B.C.E. and a bountiful olive harvest. Reality is composed of one thing. Hesiod and Homer: ancient Greek poets. Offered answers and explanations. Everything that happens is because of the gods. Thales’ Metaphysical Theory: the Nile, unlike almost every other known river, dries up in the winter and floods in the summer. (Caused by the wind). Scientific theory. Natural phenomena. Mythical explanations: the Nile, unlike almost every other known river, dries up in the winter and floods in the summer. (Caused by the Gods). Based more on tradition, based on authority. Supernatural events. Thales’ questions and the answers he provides depend on three fundamental and radical assumptions: 1. Despite the numerous changes we observe, something must remain constant for change to be possible 2. The world is composed of many different things; the concept of difference is logically dependent on the concept of sameness 3. The human mind is capable of knowing and fathoming what the one behind the many is (most important assumption) Thales’ significance: 1. He is the first recorded person to offer natural explanations for natural phenomena. 2. Thales was one of the first thinkers to offer reasons and explanations for his conclusions 3. He also raised the first metaphysical questions by asking; what is everything made of? 4. Thales was also the first to maintain the belief that reality is composed of one thing. Mythos: Depend on supernatural explanations. Traces things to their root in “Sacred Time” and supernatural beings. Conservative and depends on rituals to reconstitute the natural and social world. Unhistorical. Often Begin: Once, long ago. Logos: Traces things to their ontological being (Ontology: fundamental nature). Assumes hidden truth behind reality. Makes no reference to sacred time or supernatural entities. Historical. Makes logical deductions based on facts drawn from observation. Thales employed and rational thinking and reasoning (logos), as opposed to mythical thinking (mythos). Examples of rational thinking: mathematics, theology, philosophy, and science. Rational thinking, defines philosophy the 3 E’s: “The view that affirms reason, with its interest in evidence, examination, and evaluation, as authoritative in all matters of belief and conduct” The Sophists: Relativism and Rhetoric Ancient Athens Background: in the 5 century B.C.E. Athens was a direct democracy. Important members of state were put to a vote in the Agora (people’s court). Any male citizen who had completed his military training could be chosen as a member of a jury of 500 men. Issues of state included political matters and important criminal trials. Votes were counted with a show of hands. The majority vote won. The Sophists: to be successful in Athens a citizen needed to pay for an education. The sophists (Sophos means wisdom. Philo means lover) (Philosopher= the love of wisdom) were professional educators who could be hired for a fee. Some sophists could be hired to teach academic subjects. Other sophists claimed to teach excellence (Arête) and the art of Rhetoric. Such experts could also be hired as legal defenders. Most importantly: the sophists believed and taught relativism. Rhetoric: is the art of persuasive speech. Aims to convince or persuade an audience. Rhetoric often appeals to the emotions of the audience. Sophists, like Gorgias, were able to appear to be experts on any subject and could provide logoi (reasons) to support any side of an argument. Some sophists further claimed to be able to make a weak argument stronger and a strong argument weaker. Q: In what way might the Sophists be similar to modern day politicians and lawyers? Politicians: They’re trying to persuade us to vote for them and appear to be an expert and confident in what they’re saying. They make unrealistic guarantees. They tell you what you want to hear. Lawyers: expert and see both sides of the argument. They’re prepared for any possible counter arguments and change sides. The Sophists’ Method: They could provide logio (reasons) to support either side of an argument. For example, some cultures claim that there is one God. Other cultures claim that there is more than one God. Some say the Earth is round; others say that the Earth is flat. When both sides back up their beliefs and both sides see their opinion to be true, it is called relativism. Skepticism: the problem of sense experience. Most of what we know comes from our five senses. But things sometimes appear one way; when in reality things aren’t always what they seem. This makes it very difficult to say what is true. We cannot always trust our senses. Relativism: the sophists’ method reveals the following: 1. If there is no clear way to distinguish between knowledge and opinion. 2. Then all we ever have are opinions. 3. Therefore, there is no distinction between knowledge and opinion; all truth is relative. Physis (nature): truth/existence/status is independent of human conventions. For example: Photosynthesis is a natural process. Water’s freezing and boiling points are the same everywhere. Nomos (custom): truth/existence/status depends on human conventions. For example: in some countries they drive on the left, others the right. Whether murder is right or wrong depends on where you live. Math is a nomos. The Problem of Relativism: Protagoras: of all things, the measure is man. Everything is Relative: there is no distinction between knowledge and opinion. Nomos: truth is cultural, truth is created. Physis: truth is natural, truth is discovered. Sophists: lawyers/ politicians/ educators. Appearance. Relativism: no distinction, black and white knowledge of opinion. Truth is subjective, truth varies. Epistemology: theory of knowledge. Is knowledge possible? Socrates: lived and died in the Athens. He wrote nothing; none of his ideas he never wrote down. We get information about him from his public conversations that he has had with people in the streets. He never gave anything in the form of a lecture, such as a teacher. Second/third hand accounts: accuracy could have been an issue. He could have been misinterpreted- Plato, Aristophanes, and Xenophon. The interaction he had with people instead of the lectures was important because the conversation allowed for different opinions. Justice, love, courage, friendship, truth. These are important because in a conversation you can get a feel of how everyone feels about these questions. They’re subjective- different answers due to different experiences. They’re intangible- not scientific. Thales is focused on “Why?” questions. – Why does x happen? Concerned with the causes of why something happened. He’s more concerned with scientific reasoning. The main focus of his theories is the natural phenomenon. This is different from Socrates because he is concerned with Socratic Method: Euthyphro- charging father for murdering a murderer. Threw him in a ditch to die. Looking for distinction between piety and impiety. This is devotion to the gods and devotion to your parents. Euthyphro is a good example of a sophist. Prosecuting his father because it’s good for his appearance. He wants to be a lawyer; this shows him to be dedicated to winning he has a lot to gain. Socrates is flattering Euthyphro and Socrates states that Euthyphro is smarter than him and he should learn from him/ become his student. Reveals ignorance. Socrates gets mad with Euthyphro and says that he doesn’t want any more examples, he wants definitions. Once he gives up the definition, Socrates started to test the definition with examples. These examples revealed that the definition was flawed. Now Euthyphro has to come up with new evidence aka a new definition. So Euthyphro keeps coming up with new definitions and Socrates keeps finding flaws with the definitions. Euthyphro has to recognize the problem that he’s basing his actions on the fact that it is faulty and he finds that he can’t define x. No matter what he does he can’t find the right definition. He says he has to go because he has no idea what he is talking about and didn’t like that his ego was being shot at. If you have the knowledge- you should prosecute your father- you should be able to define piety. If you don’t have the knowledge- you shouldn’t prosecute- he’s going to make a fool out of himself. Euthyphro is now embarrassed because he has been made a fool out of so since it was a public conversation everyone now knows that he doesn’t know what he is talking about and they will talk about it with other people. They saw him try to define it and fail at it. It won’t be good for his career as a sophist. Public humiliation is better than humiliation in court because now at least he can’t get back at by his dad for trying to prosecute him. No definition of piety, no conclusions. Relativism- there is not one single Truth (capital T, the overall truth). Not one meaning, it’s based on perceptions of truth (lower case t, many truths). You’re never wrong if relativism is true because you can never be wrong in your opinion. Euthyphro can’t be a relativist if Socrates proves him to be wrong. You can’t be a relativist and wrong at the same time. Socrates is telling us relativism is wrong. If you can prove something is true or if you can say something is right or wrong, you are not a relativist.