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Philosophy 103: Introduction to Logic
The Nature of Philosophy and Logic

Abstract:  The subjects of philosophy and logic are broadly characterized.

I. What is Philosophy?
A. The derivation of the word is from the Greek roots:
1. philo—love of, affinity for, liking of
As in the words ...
—to engage in love affairs frivolously
philanthropy—love mankind in general
philately—to collect postage stamps
-phile—one having a love for, e.g. anglophile
philology—having a liking for words
2. sophia—wisdom
As in the words ...
—one who loves knowledge
sophomore—one who thinks he knows everything
sophisticated—one who is knowledgeable
B. A suggested definition: philosophy is the systematic inquiry into the principles and presupposition of any field of inquiry.
1. Psychologically, philosophy is an attitude, an approach, or a calling to answer, or to ask, or even to comment upon certain peculiar problems (i.e., problems such as those usually in the main branches of philosophy discussed below).
2. Eventually we must despair of an abstract definition and turn to what philosophers do—i.e., the practice of philosophy
II. The Main Branches of Philosophy are divided as to the nature of the questions asked in each area. The integrity of these divisions cannot be rigidly maintained.
A. Axiology: the study of value; the investigation of its nature, criteria and metaphysical status.
1. Characterization of some features of the definition:
a. Nature of value: is value a fulfillment of desire, pleasure, a preference, or simply some kind of human interest?
b. Criteria of value: is there no accounting for taste (de gustibus non (est) disputandum) or can rules and standards of values be set?
c. Status of value: how are values related to scientific facts? What ultimate worth do human values have, if any? Is value dependent upon the presence of human beings?
2. Axiology is sub-divided into ...
a. Ethics: the study of values in human behavior; the study of moral problems which seeks to discover how one ought to act, not how one does in fact act or how one thinks one should act.
b. Aesthetics: the study of value in the arts--the study of the beauty, sublimity, and principles of taste, harmony, order, and pattern.
B. Epistemology: the study of knowledge, in particular, the study of the nature, scope and limits of human knowledge.
1. The investigation of the origin, structure, methods, and validity of knowledge.
2. As an example of orders of knowledge, consider the statement, "The earth is round." This can be successively translated depending upon context as ...
The earth is spherical.
The earth is an oblate spheroid (i.e., it's flattened at the poles).
But what of the mountains, oceans, and so forth?
Even if we surveyed exactly the shape, the process of surveying would itself measurably change the shape of the earth—e.g., footprints and indentations formed by our measuring instruments.  In practice, can the exact shape ever be actually known?  (No, but even though we can probably never know the exact shape of the earth at any given moment, we do know the earth has an exact shape.)
3. Consider two well-known epistemological problems:  the first not solvable, the second solvable.
a. Bertrand Russell's Five Minute World Hypothesis: Suppose the earth were created five minutes ago, complete with memory images, history books, geological records, etc. That is, at the moment of creation, the universe would have all the evidence that it was billions of years old already “packed in.”

How could it ever be known that the creation of the universe did not occur five minutes ago? Russell writes:
“There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that ‘remembered’ a wholly unreal past. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago. Hence the occurrences which are called knowledge of the past are logically independent of the past; they are wholly analysable into present contents, which might theoretically, be just what they are even if no past had existed. I am not suggesting that the non-existent of the past should be entertained as a serious hypothesis. Like all sceptical hypotheses, it is logically tenable, but uninteresting.” [Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Mind (rpt. 1922 London: George Allen & Unwin, 1921), 159-160.]
b. Suppose everything in the universe were to expand uniformly so that eventually everything in existence was one hundred times larger in size. How could we ever know it? At first glance, it might seem that this problem of scale would be unsolvable.

C. Ontology or Metaphysics: the study of what is &dquo;really” real. Metaphysics deals with the so-called first principles of the natural order or the ultimate generalizations available to the human intellect.
1. What kinds of things exist? How do they exist?
a. E.g., ideas have no size, shape, color, etc. My idea of the Empire State Building is quite as small as my idea of a book. Do ideas exist in the same manner that physical objects exit?
b. E.g., consider the truths of mathematics: How do geometric figures exist? Does a point (Euclid's "that which has no parts") exist apart from the idea of it?
c. What is spirit made of? Or Soul? Or Matter? Or Space? Or a vacuum?
III. To which of these branches of philosophy do you think logic belongs?
A. Logic: the study of the methods and principles used in distinguishing correct from incorrect reasoning.
B. Our knowledge is interrelated by logic. It forms the fabric of the sciences by ensuring the consistency of the statements that compose them.
C.  Hence, logic is usually considered a subdivision of epistemology, although, of course, logic is used in all areas of philosophy.

Recommended Reading:

Definitions of Philosophy: a collection of proposed definitions by Andy Stroble.
Logic: the entry from the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Logic: subject entry from Wikipedia.
Philosophy: the entry from the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.


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