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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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1. Insight, Outlook, and the Search for Meaning


11 1. Insight, Outlook, and the Search for Meaning Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub; It is the center hole that makes it useful. Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful. Cut doors and windows for a room; It is the holes which make it useful. Therefore profit comes from what is there; Usefulness from what is not there. – Lao Tzu, about 500 B.C.E. No Death Within a bird I sing along, within a drinking glass tilted toward the sun I sparkle. I want my world because I want myself. Women are wearing my mask in the villages and men my voice behind the hedges. I love myself in others, much much. Here is a good sound and there is light to console the eyes, even at night, and I see my life projected upon my eyelids: life, world, women and men. I am wandering, in love with myself, with my green and the horizon keeps rippling on. What’s more? There is no death because there is life. – Jan G. Elburg, Geen dood, around 1960 (excerpt) The Point of Philosophy 12 The Doubter I, he said to us, Am the doubter. I am doubtful whether The work was well done that devoured your days. Whether what you said would still have value for anyone if it Were less well said. Whether you said it well but perhaps Were not convinced of the truth of what you said. Whether it is not ambiguous; each...

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