Introduction to Philosophy

Before I went on to travel last year, I brought a book along, called “Tetralogue”. I found it on the reading list on the reddit’s philosophy channel. I guess after all what have happened, I was pushing myself to think about things more.

I finished reading that book in Myanmar. Even though it gave me a bit of different perspectives of philosophical theories in form of conversation between 4 people, it was difficult to grasp what these core principles are. So one year later, with similar motivation, I digged a bit more and found this course on from University of Edinburgh, called Introduction to Philosophy.

The lecture gave a very good introduction by defining what philosophy actually is. It is the activity of thinking of how things are done, which fulfills my original goal of thinking more.

The next chapters are some theories, but mostly, all contents stem from very simple questions and by thinking it through yourself, you understand your own perspective a bit better, and you get to see other people’s perspectives. It also uncovers the downsides of different theories.

So I am just gonna list the key questions here with the key areas of theories, just as fruit for thought. I have put a few things in italic which appeal to me more than others.

  • What is Philosophy – the activity of working out the best way to think about things
  • Morality: Objective, Relative or Emotive? – There is always right or wrong vs. context driven vs. emotional reactions – so “Tetralogue” was moving probably in this area.
  • What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any? – Propositional knowledge vs. ability knowledge (Know-how). Gettier problem to highlight belief vs. truth. Radical scepticism – we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.
  • Do We Have an Obligation to Obey the Law? – Comply vs. Obey, Consent vs. Gratitude vs. Benefit vs. Fairness.
  • Should You Believe What You Hear? Evidentialism vs. We are hardwired to trust people’s testimony vs. Think for yourself – intellectual autonomy that leads to knowledge / wisdom (being able to explain)
  • Minds, Brains and Computers – mind is immaterial vs. mental type / token (chemical) vs. function of mental state (what they do?) . Turing vs. Chinese Room on syntactic and semantic.
  • Do We Have Free Will and Does It Matter? Determinism, Liberalism, Compatibilism (which gave the purpose of being responsible for being able to making decisions)

Coming back, maybe I am thinking too much? Some people say you should enjoy life and don’t overthink. Where is the fine line of overthinking and thinking and reflecting on what you did wrong and what is the right way to do things? I remember reading somewhere that enjoy the moment is also not being responsible for your future?

I guess, thinking based on rather unrealistic guessing and assumptions is going too far. While daydreaming is a nice thing that might make me happier, thinking about unrealistic scenarios which drive into a corner thinking that everything is going to be shit.

Hence, Again, Balance.

Think but also meditate to kill overthinking.

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