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Samuel M. Thompson The Nature of philosophy

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Samuel M. Thompson The Nature of philosophy

Book Review

Samuel M. Thompson „The Nature of Philosophy“. The book was published in January, 1961 Monmouth, Illinois.

Samuel M. Thompson- a member of Monmouth College. In Monmouth Colleg‘s faculty he became chairman of the Philosophy Department. His first book, A Modern Philosophy of Religion, as well as his second book, The Nature of Philosophy, became widely used in many colleges and universities.

This book is assigned mostly to beginning students. Its purpose is to introduce them to the kind of thinking ffrom which philosophy derives. The book contains several sections that analysis different aspects of philosophy. It involves questions of philosophy origin, purpose, philosophical problems and so on. The book is divided into four parts. Each part includes different chapters towards philosophy. These parts are deeply connected with each other. The Nature of philosophy is exaustive book of philosophical history within all variety of its problematical aspects. Samuel M. Thompson begins its philosophical research out of ordinary experience. In all human eexperience there is a constant search for meaning and for intelligibility. All human beings, no matter from what continent they are, or what gods they believe in faces mostly the same existential problems. Philosophy is a window to our deeper kknowledge. It takes all our areas of activity, no matter if it is mathematics, religion or ethics.

I am going to discuss two parts of this book. The first part is called the nature and method of philosophy, the second part calls philosophy of science and mathematics.

The Nature and Method of Philosophy ( part 1.)

As it is important for every student and not only for him to get acquainted with philosophy, the first question arives: What is philosophy? This word came from the Greek language that expresses the love of wisdom. „ It is through wonder that men begin to philosophize, whether in older times or today.The result of wonderment and perplexity is to feel oneself ignorant; if then, it wwas to escape ignorance that men began to philosophize, it is evident that they were pursuing this sort of study in order to know and not from any motive of utility“. In other words, philosophy is an intelectual curiosity and its source is wonderment. Samuel M. Thompson even describes it as theoretical inquiry. Every person who takes his existance seriously, asks philosophical questions, such as: What makes life worth living? What is my place in this world…? In all ages ppeople were concerned with these questions. They asked them in different languages, in different manner, but the meaning of such questions was usually the same. The problem arives together with these questions, since the answer to them is usually unachievable or abstract. But even if we got lost in abundance of questions and the answer to them seems so distant, the attempt to find them makes as deserving to live in this world. „Without philosophy life either is lived blindly or else is lived on trust alone“.

Samuel M. Thompson describes philosophy as being different from other sciences. Philosophy is not so specializated as other scientific disciplines. It seeks to understand the wholeness of our world or objects observed. Despite this fact, philosophy has also analytical side as to study things just in their wholeness or broader relationship would be unacceptable. „ All philosophy is an endeavor to obtain a self- consistent understanding of things observed. Thus its development is quided in two ways, one is demand for coherent self- consistency, and the other is the elucidation of things observed.“

Philosophy is not so closed as other sciences. It seeks for deeper and more universal knowledge. The facts, statistics is just secondary tthing for it. Philosophy is anxious with more broader questions. It is a search for the meaning of exsistence. It includes not just such problems what we desire but what we ought to desire. To answer these questions, facts are not enough. We should look at our situation in broader context, to inquire in the whole scheme of things. Author gives several examples in order to show how different philosophy is from other sciences. All other special sciences are concerned with more or less narrow facts, but no of it studies man as man in an attempt to understand the meaning of human existence. Thus the search for deeper meaning brings us to the question of ultimates ( the final and the main things in existance). The book brings us back to the ancient thought in order to show what different attitudes towards ultimates were in those days. There are philosophies which even deny the existence of ultimates but with such denial they are setting forth theories of ultimate.

Samuel M. Thompson emphasizes the great importance of language in philosophical inquiry. Language is the indispensable instrument of thought.

So as philosophy is a search of deeper meaning of our existence, it could bbe defined as a reflective inquiry. Its attempt not to seek new information but to try to discover the meaning of the facts we already know. It is an additional knowledge that principally is interested in a search for truth. Moreover, it contains the interest in method by which we try to find the truth. Philosophical reflection is concerned with ultimates. It involves the problem of how we know.

„ Philosophical thinking is guided and evaluated in terms of its logical soundness“. It helps us to find out what is true and what is false. Such logical standards are necessity and universality.

Philosophy is unique in its manner. Philosophy is not such autonomic discipline as others. Its context is broader as it includes all our ares of activity. In every our daily situation we face philosophical problems. As long as thought exists, philosophy exists.

In the first chapter Samuel M. Thompson introduced us to the main attitudes of philosophy. He explained the great importance and singularity of this discipline. As the first chapter gave us some explict information about it, the second, The study of philosophy, brings us deeper. Now as the student is introduced to it, Samuel M. Thompson suggests

him to go further, since many philosophical points are still undiscussed.

The Study of Philosophy

Author begins with the idea that many of us are quite unaware of our contact with philosophy and our own personal use of it. First of all we should be aware of philosophical language. We should be introduced with such philosophical ideas as existance, knowledge, true and false, good and bad.

Such ideas are active in our mind as it have deep historical roots.

Samuel M. Thompson emphasizes the ddifference between two notions, having a philosophy and using a philosophy. In other words, the difference between having some ideas and using them.

We begin to participate in philosophy when we begin to think out for ourself. We can not begin to philosophize from a zero because philosophy has a long history of thought. Although, we have free mind we can philosophize just with a help of already made philosophical knowledge.

„We begin to have a philosophy just as soon as wwe begin to get the idea that there is a world of real things and begin to distinguish between those real things and imaginary things“.

Samuel M. Thompson gives an example with a child. A child understands what is real and wwhat is not in the course of time or in other words, because of his experience. We do not begin our life with knowledge, we gain it in the course of time. First we see things, later we begin to know or understand them and just after this we can distinguish between what is true and what is false . We may know that boiling water is hot. So later we can assume the idea of heat. „Some at least of the things we sense, we also think. Besides an awareness of colour we have an awareness of something that is coloured.“. Our awareness comes from recognition. We must have some primary ideas in order to recognize things. „ In sso far as we have a set of ideas by means of which we identify and recognize things we have a philosophy.“ Philosophy is more interested in the question how rather than what. How it is possible that some things exist and other not.

Philosophy exists for a long time, so it is not surprising that some concepts we absorb from others.

As it was said previously, man can not think without help or influence of other ideas. Later he can ddistinguish between them but he must have the basis for his considerations. Philosophy lies in our human nature.“ We begin to use philosophy long before we know that we are doing so“. We use philosophy when we think for ourselfs what some ideas, beliefs is.

As we absorb ideas from others, the first step usually is to learn the names of those ideas. There is a problem in usage of words. Superficial usage of words may lead us to some kind of confusion. If we use word without any consideration about it, we can bring ourselves and others to misapprehension.

„We do not become philosophers by freeing ourselves from the ideas of others but by appropriating those ideas with understanding and critical examination. We have to turn from words to what the words mean, and this is to say that we have to think about the things and events to which the words refer.“ Philosophy also assumes a moral problem or the problem of the choice of ideas. How people should know what is wrong and what is right? What philosophical consideration should they take, in order to know how they should act in a particular situation? Samuel M. Thompson says tthat the action or attitude towards something depends on what kind of idea you will use. There are variety of ideas. The choice of a particular idea depends not only on people characters, but also on their living circumstances, culture and so on. Ideas have consequences. „ All of our initiative, all of our plans, all of our freedom, all of our purposes are based on ideas. In so far as we act for ourselves with freedom and responsibility, our action is governed by what we think is true and by what we think is valuable.“

This second chapter author finalizes with a statement that philosophy is worth to study. „ If we want to protect ourselves against the kind of ignorance which compromises the very foundation of knowledge and thought and action, we have no place to turn exept philosophy.“

The Origin and Growth of Philosophy

The next chapter Samuel M. Thompson begins with an explanation of philosophical origin. According to author philosophy derived from a common sense idea. Common sense may be described as a general agreement among particular group of people. Common sense may be concerned as a particular beliefs which are not constant and reliable. Such beliefs are aaccepted without question as true. Samuel M. Thompson gives an example with hypnosis. People are influenced with an ideas of particular common ...

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