Please note that this is an excerpt from our book titled Introduction to the Philosophy of the Human Person.
Ryan H. Calica
Jay Michael Cordero
The learner understands the meaning and process of doing philosophy.
The learner reflects on a concrete experience in a philosophical way.
Tarrying along this chapter, the students will develop the capacities for a keen distinction of a holistic from a partial perspective of philosophy as a conceptual field. With the aid of philosophy as a conceptual tool, they are now expected to recognize human activities that emanated from deliberate reflections as can be formally construed. From here, they will realize the value of doing philosophy in obtaining a broad perspective in life. In effect, they can finally proceed to doing philosophical reflections based not only on concrete, but also pressing human situation from a holistic perspective.
This chapter introduces the students to the general nature of philosophy and informs them about how to do philosophy. It is divided into two major parts. The first part provides an overview of the nature, meaning, and main branches of philosophy. Here, the students are introduced to several definitions of philosophy, including the etymological and the traditional ones, in order for them to have a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. The last section of the first part is on constructing and evaluating arguments, an essential part that helps students understand and learn the art of doing philosophy. The second part of this chapter discusses the nature of the philosophy of the human person and the concept of the human person as a subject. It gives emphasis on the value of the philosophy of the human person in understanding oneself, others, society, and the meaning of life. This chapter ends with a justification for the need for philosophy of the human person by citing historical events and practices that are based on a misunderstood concept regarding human nature.
What is Philosophy?
Philosophy was coined by Pythagoras from the two Greek words philia, which means love and sophia, wisdom. Hence, etymologically speaking, philosophy is defined as the “love of wisdom”. The notion of love in ancient Greece is understood in many ways, but the Greeks normally understood philia as a friendly and collegial love. On the other hand, wisdom, as taught by Plato, is that kind of knowledge which in itself “is unlimited and which corresponds to the infinite knowledge of God alone” (as cited in Yarza, 1994, p.4). However, wisdom is normally understood by the Greeks as the correct application of knowledge. As a love of wisdom, philosophy therefore urges the human person to constantly chase for wisdom which demands lifelong practice and commitment.
Traditionally, philosophy is defined as a science that studies all things in their ultimate causes, reason and principles through the aid of human reason alone. Thus, philosophy covers a wide range, if not all fields, of human inquiry. As a science that studies everything, philosophy seeks to know the root cause of all that exists and the underlying principles that govern reality. In other words, philosophy is concerned with the reasons and principles that account for everything. And in doing so, philosophy uses reason as the chief tool, which can be expressed in many forms, such as the ability to reflect, question, deduce, articulate, evaluate arguments, and think critically and logically. Its method is akin to any other disciplines, but philosophy is more rigorous and uncompromising.
It is important to note, however, that philosophers do not agree on a single definition of philosophy. In fact, philosophers differ on their basic understanding of philosophy. Let us give here a few more essential conceptions of philosophy from several famous thinkers.
Philosophy as the Quest for Truth
Louis P. Pojman (2006), an American philosopher and professor, views philosophy as the quest for truth (p. 2). Thus, according to Pojman, the aim of philosophy is to attain truth understood as a transcendent reality that applies to all people at all time. Hence, for Pojman, philosophy studies and contemplates on the most important questions that pertain to existence, natural world, human relations, and divine being (p. 2). More specifically, for Pojman, philosophy views human beings as having a natural inclination to ask fundamental questions that probe into the significance and meaning of their earthly life. In asking the question concerning the fundamental dimension of life, philosophy, according to Pojman, uses reason, sense perception, empathy, imagination, and intuition. For Pojman (2006), the discoveries and insights gained in this quest enable the person to have a wider view of life that results in her having the attitude of being open to the others’ viewpoints and sensitive to their rights and needs.
Philosophy as the Search for Beliefs that are Rationally Justified
William F. Lawhead (2012), an American philosopher, claims that philosophy is the search for beliefs that are rationally justified (p. 7). With this understanding, philosophers investigate the multi-faceted phenomena of life using the faculty of reason, and settle to believe in the findings only by means of evidence and rational justification. In this way, beliefs play a crucial role in a person’s life as they help her in her conduct, as well as in making choices. For this reason, philosophy painstakingly helps clarifies the knowledge and information we learned since childhood, especially from the context of culture, religion, tradition, and education. Now, the problem, according to Lawhead (2011), is that too often we acquire most of our ideas, beliefs, and values unconsciously, that is, without the use of our rational faculty (p. 7). According to Lawhead, this is where philosophy becomes relevant as it urges us to re-examine all our beliefs and ideas and evaluate them to check whether they are rationally justified. Indeed, philosophy for Lawhead challenges us to be critical in the way we deal with facts and information that we get from the society, the school, and the social media today. This gives us the impression that a belief system that has undergone the scrutiny of philosophical thinking assures us of a better guide in conducting our own life.
Below is the front cover of our book in philosophy of the human person, a core subject in senior high schools in the Philippines. Chapter 1 in this book addresses the question: What is Philosophy? If you are interested to purchase the book, you may contact the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the basic information of this book, please visit this link: http://philonotes.com/index.php/2017/11/24/textbook-iphp-k-12/