1: Why Philosophy?

Lesson Objectives

  • Define philosophy and branches of philosophy
  • Describe the qualities, process, and stages of critical thinking
  • Describe the structure and method of evaluating arguments

I. Why Study Philosophy?

Plato and Aristotle

Key Terms


  • A. Gain Practical Wisdom
    • Technical vs. Practical Wisdom
    • Practical Wisdom applies universally
    • Provides perspective, context, and inspiration
  • B. Achieve Greater Levels of Meaning
    • Beyond knowledge and comprehension
    • Focus on analysis and evaluation
  • C. Acquire Critical Thinking Skills
    • Develop critical thinking and problem solving skills
    • Highly valuable to employers (LINK)       
    • More on this in a moment
  • D. Better Grasp of Arguments
    • How to make a sound judgment
    • Highly valuable to employers (LINK)
  • E. Engenders a more interesting, sophisticated personality
    • studying philosophy literally makes you sophisticated!


The essence of philosophy is that a man should live so that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.

C.S. Lewis

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

II. What is Philosophy?

  • [philo] love + [sophia] wisdom = the love of wisdom
    • φιλο (philo) + σοφία (sophia)
    • We can only love wisdom rather than be wise according to the Ancient Greeks
  • Ultimate Goals
    • Enlightenment
    • Flourishing (Eudaimonia)
    • Better Qualiity of Life
  • Requires Critical Thinking
  • Branches of Philosophy
    • Metaphysics
    • Epistemology
    • Ethics (Axiology)
    • Political and Social Philosophy
    • Aesthetics
    • Logic

III. Critical Thinking

  • A. Qualities of a Critical Thinker
    • Open Minded
    • Curious
    • Self–Aware
    • Analytical
    • Creative
    • Knowledgeable
  • B. Process of Critical Thinking
    • State your Point of View
    • Define your views clearly
    • Give an example of your Point of View
    • Explore the origins of your Point of View
    • Identify your assumptions
    • Offer reasons, evidence, and arguments that logically support your Point of View
    • Consider other Points of View
    • Arrive at a Conclusion
    • Consider the Consequences
  • C. Stages of Critical Thinking
    • 1.) The Garden of Eden (The Child's Mind)
      • Everything is black and white
      • Most things have simple solutions
      • Authority figures tell us right from wrong
    • 2.) Anything Goes (The Adolescent Mind)
      • Everyone has an equal say, so nothing is ever settled
      • Most things are too complicated and will never have a solution
      • There are no authority figures
    • 3.) Critical Thinking (The Mature Mind)
      • No one can fix everything because problems belong to specific systems of inquiry
        • Plumbers fix clogged pipes, Coaches lead a team, Doctors heal patients
      • Problems are complex and often require the skilled hand or eye of an expert
      • Experts arise from within the marketplace of ideas
        • Through research and debate within their field, as well as experience in the field
  • D. Historical Benefits of Critical Thinking
    • We went…
      • From Monarchy to Democracy
      • From Slavery to Emancipation
      • From Trial by Ordeal to Trial by Jury
      • From Feudalism to Capitalism
      • From Medieval Alchemy to the Scientific Method
      • From Traditional Treatments to Antibiotics
      • From a Tutored Elite to Public Education
      • From Rights for White Male Landowners to Universal Human Rights

VI. Logic