Can someone help me with this question on philosophy?

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Stella Richards
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Can someone help me with this question on philosophy?

Post by Stella Richards » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:30 AM

Hi,

I want to start thinking about philosophy and thinking critically and I was wonderin is it possible to learn philosophy by just finding out the major questions in philosophy, and thinking and writing about them from my own perspective and having conversations with others about them and finding out their opinion of things, or would it be better to buy a book on philosophy. It seems like to me just finding out the questions of philosophy and thinking and talking about them with other people is alot better than buying a book because conversation is what philosophy seems to be all about, but I wanted some other opinions. Thanks in advance.

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Post by MsDebby » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:49 AM

What are the major philosophical questions? That is part of the enigma of philosophy. I see philosphy as a discussion of universal questions about life and the world.

The obvious (to me): What is life, does god exist, what happens when we die, is there someone who is just like me in the world...

A book will give you more formal topics as well as help to structure your thinking. I would opt for a book or some Internet research just to help you define what you are trying to accomplish and guidelines on structured thought and analysis.
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:15 PM

Debby, those are good questions. I wonder how we would each answer. Here is my take.

Life is being alive, but that begs the question, but it basically is anything capable of growing and reproduction. Some things grow, like lava flows, but they are not alive because they cannot reproduce.

Does God exist? This can be argued many ways but I think for most of us the answer is there is no way to know for sure so you have to go on intuition alone. I do not believe in a personal God. God, if it exists, is either very remote or we are a part of God, just as a blood cell is part of our body.

What happens when we die? The snappy answer is we are no longer living. I suspect like my friend Wendy that death means nothing at all because we cannot perceive it; we are gone. Mechanically we understand what happens to our bodies as we die but there is no finite moment when we are dead. For all practical purposes, we die when we can no longer maintain consciousness. Terri Shiavo was dead when her brain died. Having said that my intuition tells me there is an afterlife and for that matter, a before life. I have no idea how much individuality, if any, we maintain after death in another state. I do know that neither energy or matter is actually destroyed; it just changes form. So the only real question is what is the nature of the energy that we release upon death and is it more than just the sum of the residual heat in our bodies. Someone should do some testing.

Is there someone just like m in the world? Unless you are cloned, we can rule that one out but no one could be exactly like you unless they inhabited your body and had identical experiences. There are people who probably look and behave a lot like you, but they are not the same.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:42 AM

Reading a few books also helps you delve into the minds of other great thinkers, which will help you formulate better questions. Books also serve as important historical repositories so you can see how, through time, philosophy has matured as well as how questions change as society changes within generations. Reading, to me, is all about gaining knowledge and insight by absorbing the thoughts and opinions of others, and should not be looked at as a useless exercise in learning historical facts or "putting the blinders on" compared to free form discussion. Philosophy and books are closely bound and always will be.

I think Deb hit it right on the head in terms of defining the most important questions of philosophy, which when all boiled down is really an exercise in finding truth in the world and ultimate knowledge. This includes examining worlds beyond ours and a means to find our place and purpose in this existence.

In philosophical discussions the scientific method is not required to justify any findings, and each philosophical question may have many answers formulated during the inward search for truth. This is why we have many doctrines, or belief systems, that are adopted by some and challenged by others. Without discord, there's no meaning to philosophical discussion and arguably a lot less fun, too. At least I think so.

-jim
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