Philosophy is all about the love of wisdom. It is all about finding out the truth. Philosophy is the art of constant arguing, asking and answering questions in search of the truth. Philosophy has very interesting theories that have been taught out by great minds.
“Idealism” is the belief that all things exist as an idea in the mind—or more specifically, as an idea in someone’s mind. George Berkeley, a famous idealist philosopher, found that his views were dismissed as idiotic by some of his peers. It’s said that one of his opponents closed his eyes, kicked a stone, and stated: “I refute it thus.” The point was that if the stone really existed only in the man’s mind, he should not have been able to kick it with his eyes closed. Berkeley’s refutation of this was a bit troublesome, especially in modern eyes. He stated that there existed an all-powerful and omnipresent God, who perceived everyone and everything simultaneously. Plausible or not? You decide.
Plato and the Logos
Everyone has heard of Plato. He is the most famous philosopher around—and like all philosophers, he most definitely had something to say about reality. Plato claimed that in addition to the world we’re all familiar with, there exists another world of perfect “forms.” All the things we see around us here are merely shadows, imitations of the real thing. By studying philosophy, we can hope to catch a glimpse of the originals.To add to this bombshell, Plato, being a monist, tells us that everything is made out of a single substance. This means that (according to his view), diamonds, gold, and dog poo are composed of the same basic substance arranged in different ways—and according to modern science, this theory may not be too far from the truth.
Philosophy also rides on the wheels of certain principles. Some of them might sound awkward but that is why philosophy exits for you to rethink and argue about certain things.
1. THE HARM PRINCIPLE
JOHN STUART MILL, 1806-1873
Whenever legislation is proposed that limits our freedoms, someone will reach for Mill’s On Liberty and point to the passage that says, ‘The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.’ What could be clearer? Except it isn’t clear: it depends on what you mean by harm. Does hate speech harm minorities? Does sexist language harm women, by making them less credible in the eyes of society? Philosophical principles are like credit agreements: the headlines are convincing, but the small print catches you out.
2. THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON
GOTTFRIED LEIBNIZ 1646-1716
The idea that everything is as it is for a reason is the assumption behind most of philosophy. If we thought that things just happened, we would not bother to try to work out their causes. But then nor would we assume that longer days meant more sunshine meant warmer weather. But this principle is crucially different from the one that says everything must have a purpose. There must be a reason why the big bang happened, but that does not mean it happened for any end or goal.
The biggest question that most people ask about philosophy is why philosophers doubt the existence of God. It has been a big debate why are philosophers encouraging atheism.
Back in the 1940s and ’50s it was widely believed among philosophers that any talk about God is meaningless, since it is not verifiable by the five senses. The collapse of this Verificationism was perhaps the most important philosophical event of the twentieth century. Its downfall meant a resurgence of metaphysics, along with other traditional problems of philosophy which Verificationism had suppressed. Accompanying this resurgence came something altogether unanticipated: a renaissance of Christian philosophy.
The turning point probably came in 1967 with the publication of Alvin Plantinga’s God and Other Minds, which applied the tools of analytic philosophy to questions in the philosophy of religion with an unprecedented rigor and creativity. In Plantinga’s train has followed a host of Christian philosophers, writing in professional journals and participating in professional conferences and publishing with the finest academic presses. The face of Anglo-American philosophy has been transformed as a result. Atheism, although perhaps still the dominant viewpoint in Western universities, is a philosophy in retreat. In a recent article, University of Western Michigan philosopher Quentin Smith laments what he calls “the desecularization of academia that evolved in philosophy departments since the late 1960s.” (‘The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism’, Philo, Vol 4, #2, at philoonline.org). Complaining of naturalists’ passivity in the face of the wave of “intelligent and talented theists entering academia today,” Smith concludes, “God is not ‘dead’ in academia; he returned to life in the late 1960s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments.”