Intro Phil: Basic Problems (PHIL*1050-01)
Term: Fall 2014
This course will introduce you to the field of philosophy through reading, reflecting, and writing on two central philosophical questions: 1) Is there any purpose to human life? 2) What is the mind?
Broadly speaking, philosophy is a systematic endeavor to arrive at reasoned answered to questions about nature and our ability to know it. The aim of philosophy is to produce a rational worldview. A rational worldview is one that is coherent and supported by our best available evidence. In this broad sense, philosophy encompasses the sciences. Many of our present academic disciplines can be viewed as divisions of philosophy, and in fact they historically emerged by branching off from what was formerly treated by philosophers. Today, philosophers in philosophy departments tend to work primarily on conceptual issues rather than doing empirical investigations (e.g., experimenting and taking measurements in laboratories); we ask, "Are we thinking about things, that would help resolve apparently irresolvable issues?" Another crucial role of philosophy is questioning what we think we already know. This might seem counterproductive, but in fact many of the most important advances in human knowledge have occurred through such skeptical questioning.
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