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1. What is Philosophy?

‘The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things, in the broadest possible sense of the term, hang together, in the broadest possible sense of the term.’ (Wilfrid Sellars)

broadest possible sense of the term, hang together, in the broadest possible sense of the term.’
‘Philosophy is an activity that uses reasoning and rigorous argument to promote human flourishing’ (Martha

‘Philosophy is an activity that uses reasoning and rigorous argument to promote human flourishing’ (Martha Nussbaum, quoting Epicurus)

an activity that uses reasoning and rigorous argument to promote human flourishing’ (Martha Nussbaum, quoting Epicurus)

The activity of working out the right way of thinking about things

2. Is Philosophy ‘Fundamental’?

'Often the worst thing to do with what looks like a real philosophical question is

'Often the worst thing to do with what looks like a real philosophical question is to answer it. It can get in the way of fuller understanding of what the problem really is and where it comes from.’ (Barry Stroud)

‘The one sort of question that can never get a definite answer is a question

‘The one sort of question that can never get a definite answer is a question that asks about itself. It is precisely reflection on the adequacy of questions, rather than answers, that has determined the history of philosophy.’ (Richard Rorty)

‘It is sometimes said, either irritably or with a certain satisfaction, that philosophy makes no

‘It is sometimes said, either irritably or with a certain satisfaction, that philosophy makes no progress. It is certainly true, and I think this is an abiding and not a regrettable characteristic of the discipline, that philosophy has in a sense to keep trying to return to the beginning: a thing which it is not at all easy to do. There is a two-way movement in philosophy, a movement towards the building of elaborate theories, and a move back again towards the consideration of simple and obvious facts… Both these aspects of philosophy are necessary to it.’ (Iris Murdoch)

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‘The reason for thinking that there will be no ‘last’ philosophy is simply that no ‘answer’ can fail to be an answer to a question, and that no question can guarantee its own permanent relevance.’ (Richard Rorty)

3. Is Philosophy Important?

"[People] cannot live without seeking to describe and explain the universe to themselves. The models they use in doing this must deeply affect their lives, not least when they are unconscious; much of [their] misery and frustration… is due to the mechanical and unconscious, as well as deliberate, application of models where

The goal of philosophy

is always the same, to assist [people] to

they do not work

understand themselves and thus operate in the open and not wildly, in the dark." (Isaiah Berlin)

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in the open and not wildly, in the dark." (Isaiah Berlin) ! (C) Lucinda Douglas Menzies

(C) Lucinda Douglas Menzies: www.douglas-menzies.com

4. Philosophy and (the question of) the Meaning of Life

'Often the worst thing to do with what looks like a real philosophical question is to answer it. It can get in the way of fuller understanding of what the problem really is and where it comes from.’ (Barry Stroud)

‘Philosophy needs vision and argument… there is something disappointing about a philosophical work that contains arguments, however good, which are not inspired by some genuine vision, and something disappointing about a philosophical work that contains a vision, however inspiring, which is unsupported by arguments… Speculation about how things hang together requires… the ability to draw out conceptual distinctions and connections, and the ability to argue… But speculative views, however interesting or well supported by arguments or insightful, are not all we need. We also need what [the philosopher Myles] Burnyeat called ‘vision’ – and I take that to mean vision as to how to live our lives, and how to order our societies.’ (Hilary Putnam)

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