An Introduction to  Philosophy

Chapter 1 :   Introduction

Let's Get Started 2

I have been in Philosophy in some formal manner for over five decades. However, I have been doing philosophy since I was very, very, young, say about 9 years old.  I would ask questions.  I would ask lots of questions and most of those around me at the time, my friends and relatives, did not have answers.  Most had no patience even for discussing the issues.  I learned to keep my questions and ideas to myself.  Oh, for sure, they would “leak out” once and a while, but to no serious consequence other than for most folks to think I was different.  It wasn’t until I arrived in college that I learned that what it was that I had and did had a name.  It is called Philosophy.

Now I have also learned that many people have a number of wrong ideas about what Philosophy is and does and how it operates.  Let me give you an example of one of the improper but popular uses of the term “Philosophy”. 

  A true story:

I was in a New York City taxicab.  The driver spoke English. Honest, he did.  In fact he was listening in on a conversation I was having with a friend and at one point the driver volunteered the following remark:

You’ve got to take it one day at a time.  That’s my philosophy!

I suppose that I could have ignored the remark, except that I really wasn’t sure at all what the heck he meant.  And I knew that uttering pithy remarks was not philosophy at all!  So I answered   the driver’s remarks with a series of questions.

What do you mean by “you”, others don’t?

What do you mean by “got to”? Do you mean “ got to” as in the laws of gravity and I have no choice or do you mean “got to” as in laws where I’ll get punished if I don’t?  Just why do I “got to”?

What do you mean by “take it”?  What else is available?  “Leave it”?

“One day” at a time?  Why not two days at a time?  Heck, why “one day” at a time?  Why not one hour or one minute or one second?

Well, when I was done the driver just said, “I’m sorry.” And that was the end of his contribution to our discussion.

Philosophers ask questions.

In my classes I would ask students what they think Philosophy is?

So I ask you now to think of your best answer.  Perhaps, the answer you thought of when you did the first thought assignment in the previous section (you did do it already, didn’t you?).  So, now think of your best answer and then go to the next section.

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© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2000. All Rights reserved.

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