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The Point of Philosophy

An Introduction for the Human Sciences


Ludo Abicht and Hendrik Opdebeeck

The core questions of philosophy about the origin of the world and people, the distinction between good and evil, and the meaning of life – these questions keep us all busy. In this introduction to philosophy, these three questions lead our journey. You want to understand the world and man. Then you try to acquire an outlook on the proper course of action. Perhaps you especially hope to gain insight into the meaning of your own life. And our society, as well, repeatedly collides with questions of its economic, social, and ecological limits. Again and again, philosophy is the necessary condition for finding answers in a rational manner to the demands for in-sight, outlook, and the search for meaning. This is a fascinating story of more than 2,500 years of thought, where the reader might feel inspired to add his or her own responses to the most important personal and social questions. But also to ask new questions – the point of philosophy.


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Most people occasionally ask the central philosophical questions about the origins of the world and mankind, about the difference between good and evil, and about our very sense of existence. You really want to better understand how the world and man are actually functioning. Then you want to know the best way to survive and to act. And finally, you want to get a clear insight into the sense, the point, of life itself. Instead of dealing with as many philosophers who have struggled with these questions as possible, this introduction to philosophy for the human sciences strives, rather, to present a readable pattern for dealing with these philosophical questions. It is a kind of tool that will enable readers to proceed down their own path. Thus, there are regular moments in this book that we deal with the various ways in which “in-sight, out-look, and making-sense” surface in philosophy in history. This reading pattern turns out to be a useful tool to keep track of the central questions in the midst of the vast diversity of potential philosophical answers. It is our explicit purpose to make people sufficiently curious as to entice them to read the original philosophical texts for themselves. For a summary is always something like a translation that can never replace the direct confrontation with the original text. Then you’ll discover soon enough that there may exist different, sometimes even contradictory, parallel interpretations of the same text. In this way, the ages-old dialogue between thinkers and...

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