An Introduction & Initial Overview of Philosophy   no comments

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An Introduction & Initial Overview of Philosophy:

Philosophy is centrally a consideration of logical argument and reasoning offset in consideration of wider questions about every aspect of the universe. Philosophy is often misinterpreted as a loose collection of outlooks on life. Actually, it is about testing arguments to exhaustion in order to validate stances or viewpoints. An example of this is to consider the following statement that ‘murder is wrong’. Philosophy helps us to explore the notion of wrongness, considering why we define it as wrong and under, by counter critical argument, it could be right. It also asks us to consider alternative structures to the universe where, for example, murder may be considered right. Furthermore it asks us to consider about the idea of justifications- who is to say what is and is not right or wrong? Likewise can we apply the idea of universal principles to any situation and therefore form absolutes? As such you could say that Philosophy is the search for absolutes in unending open-ended questions- a search for specifics.

Socrates, Plato, Nietzsche, Hume, Descartes and Sartre are all Philosophers of noted mention; each contributes historical stances that have shaped schools of thought within the subject. Sartre, perhaps, is one of the less known key philosophers in his contributions to the field. A noted example is his branching of Philosophy and Literature, a good exemplification of the inter-disciplinary intrinsic nature of the subject that is a key underpinning process; the discipline is not so much a discipline, but a collection of different ways of thinking that consider a variety of options and inter-relate to one another.

Sartre’s novel ‘Nausea’ is a key example of an inter-disciplinary text; it explores philosophical stances of existentialism, questions about the nature of existence and our purpose within it, as well as a psychological literature that explores the barriers faced by individuals in a city-novel, which encapsulates and therefore enables relation to, for the reader, similar comparisons to their own lives. Through the novel Sartre offers a insight into how such influences create angst in the individual, the weight of the world gradually bearing down on them due to a variety of contextual factors unique to the city and individual. Through this he terms the idea of existential angst, opening up a range of existential themed emotions that relate to common fears and feelings about being fundamentally alone in a universe.

Such angst occurs from negative feelings and setbacks that are part of the experience of human freedom and responsibility. As a result such a novel demonstrates a more potentially reflective mirror to ourselves as it is read, considering how in the instance of the protagonist, their slip into depression, self-centred obsessed and eventual near-insanity enables us to draw reflections of our own barriers in everyday life that influence us to reflect negatively upon our existence. It also acts as a cautionary tale, shaping a consideration to how we should act and why. This is not so different to my initial example about how we define the notion of wrongness and murder- the justifications for our own decisions in life affecting what we consider to be acceptable or influencing our motivations, actions and responses as a result.

There are several key themes in Philosophy that are explored as a question of focus: God, Right and Wrong, The External World, Science, Mind, Art, Knowledge. All of these are more commonly integrated into specific schools of thought and summarised in a structured order that shapes the discipline itself; many, are in fact, interconnected and not singular subjects in their own right and each can be loosely affirmed into commonly related topics such as Reality, Value & Knowledge. In my next blog, I will consider more about the structure of Philosophy and arguments relevant to the topic explored for this report.


1. Sartre, J.P, (1964). Nausea. New York: New Directions.
2. Warburton, P., (2012): Philosophy-the basics. London: Routledge.

Written by Michael Day on November 11th, 2013

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