Saturday, January 29, 2005

Must we know all this?

"Working alone with the text book had made me wonder, Must I, in the exam, be familiar with all the material in the book?"

I suggest that you start by pondering why philosophy is taught in the high school, and why the first course is obligatory for all. The goal cannot be that you remember by heart when Aristotle lived, even though broadening your knowledge with the history of philosophy is important. But what is it that philosophy really can give to a high school student?

One of the distance learners remembered: “Doesn’t philosophy mean something like loving knowledge?” The word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek words for loving wisdom. Wisdom may be something else than information learned by heart. Wisdom, like philosophy, is also readiness. Speaking about philosophy I appreciate most the readiness for thinking.

What can a high school student or any student get from studying philosophy? The ability to analyze and to argument? The ability to analyze the structures of things and contents of questions is useful for all studies, and so is the ability to present good grounds for your arguments or to evaluate other people’s arguments.

Knowledge on philosophy can be understood referring to the English word ’ to know’: we learn to recognize things and know how to do things. Therefore there is a certain problem in learning philosophy at a distance. You should philosophize with somebody to learn it.


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