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Fundamentals to Philosophy Lesson 1

Updated on February 6, 2018
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Alex has taught at two public schools, been accepted into two honorary societies, and has traveled the Americas and Europe.

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Are you familiar with the words of Søren Kierkegaard or Alan Watts?

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Is Philosophy Practical?

One of the clearest concerns to those whom are interested in studying philosophy is; are there any real-life and practical applications to this field? The answer can be said to heavily depend on the kind of philosophy involved. I would agree that some philosophical schools of thinking are more beneficial than others. I will go as far as to state that concentrating on a single school of philosophy can even be detrimental to the healthy progress of the individual. However, there is something quite magical to the study of numerous philosophies. As I have already stated, studying just one philosophy can be bad. Regardless, that's a trap that many of us fall into from time to time during our lives on this planet. We seem to do it naturally, especially when we are young. But, when we begin to look at ways of thinking that are new to us, we are exercising the mind. We can develop new methods of thinking by the synthesis of new neural pathways. When we meditate on the same item in a different way, we don't necessarily create new brain cells; but, we discover new ways to apply the usage of existing neurons! When Siddhartha Gautama ("the Buddha") taught a lecture by holding a flower for an elongated period of time, something fascinating was accomplished. He allowed his disciples to conceptualize what a lecture truly is in a very unique fashion. The lecture was still a lecture, but it was produced and conceived by original means. How is all of this practical? In the last example from the Buddha, the fundamental understanding of lectures was expanded on a relatively wide collective scale. Also note that the Buddha's disciples were likely to think of other seemingly monotonous experiences in unique ways (due to physiological changes in the brain via the creation of new neural pathways). Almost anyone can memorize a large group of words. Still, very few individuals could make another "Romeo and Juliet"! All of the paint needed to paint are readily available at stores worldwide, but it takes the right application and combinations to make a "Mona Lisa". The information to cure major diseases exists, yet the right mind to put this info together is still essential to proper medical restoration.

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What Is Philosophy?

The word itself comes from the Greek word "φιλοσοφία" ("filosofia"). "Φιλο" ("filo") means "pro" and "σοφία" ("sofia") means wisdom. Therefore, the etymological origins for the word go back to a meaning close to "pro-wisdom". This is interesting, but not essential; the Greeks were far from the only peoples to ever contribute to this area of study. Philosophy is an art form. Like any art, it can range from the very complex to the very simple. And, even such vague understandings of any piece of artistic expression is relative to an individual or collection of people. Philosophy can be defined as the art of thinking, just as drawing can be defined as making pictures with pencils. "Thinking" by itself is not an adequate enough definition; this word is already defined, even if these two vocabulary items are synonymous. To comprehend philosophy, I believe one should delve into it. That is what we will be doing. We have, in fact, been doing just that! Guided reflections of philosophical methodologies for understanding can be preferred to simply diving into the ocean. Just jumping into an ocean without a guide can be dangerous. Are there sharks? Are there poisonous organisms in this water? If I am alone, who will help me if the waves get too rough for my ability to escape? Dear students, you are in the right place. We will continue this course by looking at the world (and reality itself) in new and interesting ways.

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Why Should I Study Philosophy?

Finally, why should any of us consider taking time to philosophize and to arduously inquire about the philosophizing of others? Because, by doing so we increase our mental capabilities, we better our understanding of history, we connect to our brothers and sisters (both living and dead), and we learn how to use our minds. On that last note, consider the importance of knowing what way to use our own brains. Compare all of this to owning a car; possessing a car can be essential to modern living, but practically useless without a current driver's license. You probably have a good brain, but your potential can only expand with its proper usage!

Will you stay tuned for more lessons?

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© 2018 Alexander James Guckenberger

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    • Guckenberger profile image
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      Alexander James Guckenberger 2 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Thank you so much for the support. You're awesome.

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 2 months ago from South Dakota, USA

      I am a member of Phi Kappa Phi. The motto of our Society is Philosophía Krateítō Phōtôn, interpreted to mean, “Let the love of learning rule humanity.” As such, I am very interested in reading Lesson 2, 3, etc.

      May I suggest that you incorporate the study of music as it relates to philosophy in future hubs? Thanks!

    • Guckenberger profile image
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      Alexander James Guckenberger 2 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I appreciate the help. I'm glad that you like it. :)

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Interesting subject and I will like to follow. May I make a suggestion that you cut your long paragraphs into shorter portions? That will make your content more readable. Just a "heads up." Thanks.

    • Guckenberger profile image
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      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Thank you Ghulam. :)

    • Haider772 profile image

      Ghulam Haider 3 months ago from Lahore, Pakistan

      nice work

    • Guckenberger profile image
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      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Bede,

      Translations are seldom straight-cut. "Love of wisdom" is the standard translation for beginner courses, and I sometimes like a more literal approach to things. My Greek isn't that good yet, so this may not be the best translation. Regardless, I like to shake the dust off the old rug as it were. :P Thanks for the support. I sincerely appreciate all of the love.

    • Bede le Venerable profile image

      Bede 3 months ago from Minnesota

      Hi Alex-I’m looking forward to the philosophy course! The translation of the word “philosophy” as “pro-wisdom” is new to me... I’m familiar with the translation as being “love of wisdom”…similar to Philadelphia, or the writings of the Philokalia -love of beauty. Anyway, “pro-wisdom” probably contains the same idea.

      The main point is good…to stretch and exercise the brain brings out its potential.

    • Guckenberger profile image
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      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      Thanks for your kind words my friend. ^_^

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting insight here on this topic. I like the way you presented with such lovely photos.

    • Guckenberger profile image
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      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I wanted to just write here that I really appreciate all of your comments guys! It really helps me out. I love the community we have here.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 3 months ago from Washington DC

      I shall have to check them out, thanks for the inspiration to do it.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Hello Alexander

      I love the study of Philosophy. The more I learn, the more I discover I don't know. For me, this equals unimaginable excitement. To come upon your article is a gift.

      You wrote: "when we begin to look at ways of thinking that are new to us, we are exercising the mind". I've been practicing to be a better listener and more open to other's ideas and opinions. I'm such a passionate person, especially when it comes to my own beliefs, I have some work to do on this subject.

      My bookshelves are filled with Tolle's books. I never miss a day of opening a chapter or two and pondering his words.

      Thank you...

      Audrey

    • Guckenberger profile image
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      Alexander James Guckenberger 3 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I think that you'd love Watts. Like Tolle, he takes advanced concepts and makes them available for the average person. I love him so much.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 3 months ago from Washington DC

      Alex,

      I prefer to say "I Am a Philosophy" since my understanding of the prefix philo's definition is "love" or "lover" which makes philosophy a lover of wisdom. I got my definition from Plato's writings with "misophy" or something like it meaning "hater of wisdom."

      Using philosophy that way makes the person "willing to pay whatever price necessary" for obtaining it. It is like when a boy loves a girl, and vice versa, they'll give almost everything up to obtain the object of their love. So if, as I do, someone loves wisdom they are willing to reject everything except survival needs to fulfill that love. It is like what the song "The Impossible Dream" imply, I will achieve what others consider impossible because of the love of wisdom.

      I didn't become a lover of wisdom from any study of it as a subject, I didn't approve of being told my limited logic was an error in my thinking. One of my early examples was the saying there is an infinite number of whole numbers after saying every number becomes zero when added to a negative or positive of equal value. My logic say if something is added to something of equal value eliminates their existence then every number is a fraction of zero.

      When I became dissatisfied with always being told I was wrong in my thinking, I call "new conception", I applied two halves equals the whole concept to the multitude of judgmental adjectives, evil/good, pretty/ugly and the like, since they all are accepted by an individual's sense perceptions. Therefore, I say one should "philo sophy" rather than be "pro sophy".

      Aloha

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      Mary Norton 3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love philosophy and these days, I am trying to understand the Epicureans and their philosophy. I still have to read Watts.

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