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Introduction to Philosophy

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Renáta Kišoňová

The first part of this textbook introduces philosophy to the reader as a part of culture, in addition to science, religion, art. It outlines various disciplines of philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy of mind etc. The second part maps the understanding of history, or the philosophical reflection of history in the history of philosophy.
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1. What is Philosophy?

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“The question ‘what is philosophy?’ can perhaps be posed only late in life, with the arrival of old age and the time for speaking concretely. In fact, the bibliography on the nature of philosophy is very limited. It is a question posed in a moment of quiet restlessness, at midnight, when there is no longer anything to ask”.

Deleuze, Guattari: What is Philosophy?

I recently visited several Slovak grammar schools and discussed a number of matters with secondary school pupils, including philosophy. In response to my simple question ‘what is philosophy?’ however, I received no particular answer. Maybe it is the fact that students were ashamed. Maybe they have weak fundamentals of civic studies, or are poorly motivated by teachers. Or, as I think is most likely, responding briefly to the question ‘what is philosophy?’ is a daunting challenge for secondary school students.

Jaspers argues that the question ‘what is philosophy?’ is a matter of dispute. (see: Jaspers K.: Úvod do filozofie, 1996 p. 9). According to Czech philosopher Jaroslav Peregrin, there are several different approaches to philosophy in society. Some people harbour an extreme ← 9 | 10 → reverence for philosophy, almost awe, and believe that philosophy represents something spectacular. For them it is something where we can find answers to the questions: why are things the way they are? And, what is the meaning of everything? (see: Peregrin, J.: Filosofie pro normálni lidi, 2008, p. 11 – 17)...

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