Today I started an on-line philosophy course with The University of Edinburgh. This is my first post on the subject. I intend to blog my thoughts and progress for the next seven weeks.
Why I am taking this course.
When I was exploring the courses available in Coursera I signed up for the E-Learning and Digital Cultures because I use E-learning in teaching English. I then noticed that this course started on the same day. I looked at the course and thought about what it would mean for me to do this course.
I live in south-west France and my daughter has been schooled here since she was six years old. All French children when they go to Lycée have philosophy as part of the curriculum no matter which BAC they take. I have never looked at or studied philosophy. How will I be able to talk about this subject with my daughter? If she has problems with her homework will I even understand the question?
I am not able to help with all aspects of home work. I don’t speak Spanish for example. But if she talks about her problems with her Spanish homework I can at least relate to the problem. Her maths homework is beyond my knowledge but I know where to look for help and how to understand the logic of mathematics. I am not sure today – day one of the course, exactly what philosophy is exactly.
What do I think philosophy is?
I think it is about great thinking. Thinking about questions on the meaning of life and our life in relation to the universe. Looking at questions that cannot be solved by any scientific or mathematical processes. I believe the stars and planets are a part of it but I am really not sure how they come into it.
I just googled ‘What is philosophy?’ There are 361 thousand results.
This dictionary definition is the first one:-
The second one is Wikipedia . Here is the first paragraph of that.
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values,reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. In more casual speech the “philosophy” of a particular person can refer to the beliefs held by that person.
I am not going to look further on the google results. I am going to start the course and see what the lecturers have to say and see if there is more to learn.
Introduction – Dave Ward.
The aim of the first week is to find out what philosophy is. He asked the question what is philosophy and how do we define it? He suggested googling it but I have already done that. We had a look at what other people think it is and what the dictionary says it is. The quote I like the best was Barry Stroud ‘Thinking clearly and well about reality and our place in it.’ That seemed to sum up my confused ideas above on what philosophy is.
The video concluded that Dave Ward thinks Philosophy is :-
The activity of finding out what is the right way to think about it. What is philosophy is itself a philosophical question?
He accepted that not all philosophers will agree with him.
At the end of the video he said we should think about whether we found the information compelling and whether we agreed with it. Does anything seem wrong or not make sense. Has anything been left out?
My thoughts on the first video.
From what I have understood philosophy then is not thinking about those big questions but deciding on the best way to think about them. I wonder if I am being too simplistic?
There are five videos this week so I think I will leave it there for today. I have to do some of my other course as well this evening. Interestingly the first question we are looking at over at the other MOOC is whether Digital culture can be considered Utopian or Dystopian Now for me that is a philosophical question. So maybe if I first decide how to think about it I will be able to answer the questions philosophically.