The two Greek words – “philo”, which means love and “sophia”, which means wisdom are the beginnings of the word we use today: Philosophy, the love of wisdom.

Philosophy

Instructions

Read the article (you can also listen to the audio while you read). Next go to Task and do the activity.

Audio icon Download audio 2.64MB (right click & save)

Philosophy

By Julie Bray

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”(Shakespeare)

Does this sentence make you think? What does it make you think about? Shakespeare was a dreamer, and some say he was a philosopher too. In this sentence he tells us that our lives are short but we can think up big and important ideas in that short time.

The two Greek words – “philo”, which means love and “sophia”, which means wisdom are the beginnings of the word we use today; Philosophy, the love of wisdom.

Most people have a philosophy on life. Everybody has an idea of what is right and what is wrong, and why things are the way they are, and who they are and who to trust. A lot of people believe somebody else’s philosophy. That person may be a religious or political leader, or anybody you look up to. Some people have their own philosophy on life which might be a mixture of theories. Others are philosophers; people who want to know the truth about life for themselves and spend their time studying, thinking and asking questions.

One of the earliest Eastern philosophies was Taoism, which came from China. We are all aware of the yin and yang halves of the universe – nothing can exist without its opposite. Another great eastern philosophy is Buddhism, which is a religion and also a system of beliefs which help us to understand ourselves and others better. One branch of western philosophy, Existentialism, is very similar to Buddhist ideas. Both ask questions about what really exists in life, and help us to decide what is important.

The first western philosophers lived in Greece. They encouraged people to find their own answers to questions about life instead of believing the Gods did everything. Socrates was the most famous of these. He is one of the most famous philosophers in the world, yet he said ‘one thing I know and that is that I know nothing.’ This is why he never wrote or lectured. He only discussed. He did not believe he could tell anybody anything, that it was better to encourage individual thinking.

Today philosophers are still encouraging people to think. Schools in some countries teach philosophy to children. Reading books written by old philosophers can be difficult because the language is from the past. So stories are used to help schoolchildren make their own decisions about what is right and wrong and think about the best way to solve problems.

Why do we need philosophy? There are plenty of people who think that killing animals is cruel, but eating animals is fine. If you are one of these people, you should ask yourself why. Why is killing animals cruel? Why is it okay to eat animals? You might find that the answer to each question is very different and you could have an argument by yourself using your own ideas! Go on and argue - you will understand more about what you believe. You will begin to understand the subject more deeply. And this helps you to feel comfortable with it. And you might change something or you might not. When we ask ourselves questions, we start to understand ourselves and our lives, and it’s up to us to make changes or not. If the ideas in your head agree, this means you have integrity. What you say and what you do are the same. Everyone respects someone who has integrity!

By thinking and questioning, we can understand more and maybe prevent problems caused by misunderstanding. But philosophy can also cause problems and conflict when people don’t agree. When one group of people choose one philosophy to believe and another group of people choose a different philosophy, when they need to think or make a decision together, they start trying to change each other instead of working together on bigger ideas about life.

So when you have some spare time, ask yourself the following philosophical questions:

Does the world own us or do we own the world?Which is more important, humans or stars?If a tree falls where nobody can hear it, does it make a sound? And the Zen Buddhist riddle: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Download

Discussion

Tags

Comments

hi everyone
first would like to talk about my happiness to can ride and understand all things in this l text, it is helpful to knew about this to improve our level.

I ‘think that a great pat of the problems between persons and nation are due rather to the negligent of the great role of philosophy in education.
Interesting in philosophy mean been able to accepted the others as they are and been in interior peace

Hi everyone

As far I'm concerned philosophy is a subject very important in education and bit by bit, in the actuality we or the children study less at school, certainly I don't know the why, but in my honest opinion is a mistake, because this is a subject that help the students to undertand the world and the most important, the philosophy help to think for ourself, and all that of course, should improve our knowledge.

To sum up I could say, a piece of advice for all of you, if you have the chance or the oportunity to study or read some of the imopprtant philosophers that we have though the philosophy history, that could serve you so much in you own life.

Best wishes

I studied philosophy when I was 17 (in the third year of Secondary School). I think that is very useful because it's very difficult to study without understanding it, It's good for young brains.

this article is very tough and i can't understand it.

I would like to find here texts introducing some philosophers and simplified texts of those philosophers. It would help and improve the philosophical vocabulary of people interesting in philosophy.
It would be very interesting.

Your texts:

Robert Tournier writes “I think philosophy is probably the most important thing in human life! Philosophy should be taught from an early age! Religion is not enough: we have to think by ourselves! Education should not consist of giving people the best way to earn money to live! Religion is a possible way to acquire the sense of the most important values in our life! But everyone has to think by himself about the necessity to acquire these values! He has also to confront his conceptions about values with those of other people! Without this effort to deeply understand and then stick to values, life is a sort of nonsense and human behaviour is the result of chance, beliefs, religion, marketing, wrong opinions, money and so on: some TV programs illustrate precisely what I am trying to explain. Our society, which advocates the Golden Calf, is complete nonsense! If we want to give a meaning to our lives, we have to put the Golden Calf in his modest place and devote our energy to things which are REALLY IMPORTANT in life. Philosophy is the best (and the only) way to acquire WISDOM! Every one has to take RESPONSIBILITY for himself!”

Amedeo Abate writes:

1. In my Country, Italy, not many schools teach philosophy. Perhaps that is why not many Italian people have a philosophy in their life. In Italy there is too much contrast inside society and in my opinion everyone thinks about himself. Nevertheless Italian culture is a little strange. We don’t trust in religion, politics or philosophers but in something else. We trust in sport, music and love. So I think I can say that we are dreamers.

2. Probably not teaching philosophy is not a good idea because it could help us to find our identity and make a real sense of our life. We are missing it. There is no more certainty and all is relative. I believe that through philosophy we can make our life better.

3. I don’t know if I have a philosophy in my life, probably because I have not studied it. Surely I trust in God, I love music, I respect law and trust in family as a fundamental part of our society.

Hy Amedeo, i don't agree with you. I'm italian too, and in secondary scool filosophy is taught for three years. Obviously it depends on in which field the school is specialized on (for istance, secondary school specializing in classical/ scientificic/ foreign languages studies, etc.), but generally we study philosophy both on text books and on original texts.
Secondly, I don't think that "we don't trust in religion, politics or philosopher but in sport, music and love". The are al lot of italian people who believe in God, and some other who are atheist (and atheism is a philosophical choice too). As far as sport, music and love are concerned, In ancient Greece, sport was something as a "philosophy", because they believed in "kalokagatia", the idea that youth was the most important and worthy period of human life, so men (and in Sparta women too) had to keep their bodies beautiful through sport, whereas their interior beauty was conquered thanks to philosophy and political activities. Music was very important for Schopenhauer, who believed that if the world had stopped to exist, yet music could have continued to do it. Love is the force that can bind two or more people or things, as Empodocles and Aristotle thought. As you can see, if we believe in sport, music and love, we'll not be only dreamers, but dreamers and philosophers too.
Eventually, I don't think people had to studied philosophy to be philosophers. A person who has never studied philosophy but who has his own ideas about world, family, etc., is a better philosopher than one who knows perfectly what Platon, Kant and Nietzsche thought, but who can't think with is own mind.
If you trust in God, law and family because YOU think they are important, enjoy: you're a philosopher too!