PHILOSOPHY: ITS SUBJECT, METHODS AND FUNCTIONS (for students)
I. Philosophy as a kind of worldview
To approach the study of philosophy, it is necessary to have an idea of what a worldview is. A world view in the broadest sense of the word is a definite system of man’s most general views on the world, on himself, on the goals and paths of historical development. It is a socio-historical phenomenon that occurs with the advent of mankind, and reflects the human rather than the natural way of being. A worldview is that prism mediating nature through which a person looks at the world. It crystallizes in a culture that is called the second home of a person, is a part of it, expresses its essence. At first, generalized views of the world are formed at the expense of life experience and common sense, then — faith in God, and then are based on reason, logic. At the same time, in the worldview of modern man there is an alloy of various components. Why does a person need a worldview? The fact is that, unlike an animal, a person has a need for a holistic view and awareness of the world in which he lives, as well as his role in this world. Only in this way can he set goals and implement them. For example, realizing the causes of the global financial crisis or global problems, you can create projects to solve them. In the history of mankind there are three historical types of worldview:
Myth is historically the first form of worldview inherent in primitive society and the early stages of the development of civilizational societies. Its basis is a collection of myths (Greek, Japanese, Bushman, etc.). Mythology is a peculiar archaic way of understanding nature, society and man, characteristic of the early stages of human history. In the absence of science, philosophy, man explained the world through the system of myths inherent in a particular culture.
Structurally, all myths are universal and similar, as they are based on feelings and experiences.
Features of a mythological worldview
- Syncretism is the undifferentiated, cohesion of man with nature, the non-separability of his self and not opposed to everything that exists (stone, wood, animal, etc.).
- The myth is not based on logic and reason, but on deep feelings, feelings (which is why all the myths of the world are very similar).
- The meaning in the myth is expressed in images due to associative thinking (for example, thunder is associated with the wrath of the gods, because it causes fear and horror).
- Humanization, animation of nature (animism, hylozoism). Animism (from lat. Anima, animus — soul, spirit) is the primary form of belief in souls and spirits. Hylozoism — (from the Greek “Ὕλη” — matter and “ζωή” — life) is a philosophical doctrine of the universal animation of matter.
- Mysticism and magic are irrational methods of communication and control of people, nature and the whole Cosmos. Everything in the world is riddled with mystical connections; their destruction causes individual and collective problems (drought, illness, death, hunger). Magical action and rituals are designed to restore lost connections. Magic is an archaic natural practice of controlling nature and man.
Religion (in translation means to connect a person with God) is a specific form of worldview based on a belief in existence
supernatural (transcendental) God or gods.
Features of a religious worldview
- The separation of man from nature through communication with the spiritual world (God).
- Mysticism (rituals and cults of religion are mystical, for example, in the rite of communion through bread and wine a person takes communion with the body and blood of Christ).
- Reason takes a subordinate position in relation to faith, faith is illogical, irrational (for example, in the Trinity God is one, but at the same time presented in three forms, which violates the logical law of identity).
- The focus is on the search for salvation, attainment of the highest values, eternal life after death is affirmed.
There are different types of religions, they can be divided into polytheistic, where there are many gods (Hinduism, Jainism, Shintoism, Taoism, etc.), and monotheistic, where there is one God (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). Polytheistic religions in many respects contain features of mythology, and monotheistic religions, which discovered God as a transcendent principle (supernatural, super-existent, other-worldly), are a fundamentally new type of worldview.
Philosophy as a worldview arises later than myth and religion, however, having inherited from them the whole totality of questions about the origin of the world, its structure, man’s place in the world, etc. Philosophy (from the Greek “Φιλία” — love, aspiration, thirst + “σοφία” — wisdom) — the highest level and type of worldview, theoretically designed, system-rational worldview, built on a logical reconstruction of reality. Philosophy acts as the pinnacle of worldview and at the same time like its core. She brings the worldview into the system, theorizes it.
Features of a philosophical worldview
- Independence of the explanation of the world of things, phenomena.
- Reason is the basis, the foundation of philosophical understanding, comprehension.
- The most general ideas about nature, society, man become the subject of theoretical consideration and logical analysis (in contrast to the sensually-shaped perception in myth, religion).
II. The specificity and structure of philosophical knowledge
The term “philosophy” is translated from Greek as “love of wisdom.” For the first time, the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist Pythagoras called himself a philosopher. The ancients considered wisdom the ability to connect some phenomena with others, to represent the world in integrity as a cosmic order. Wisdom is not multi-knowledge, but knowledge of the bases and reasons. So, for example, King Solomon, when he resolved a dispute between two women about the belonging of one and the same child, suggested cutting the latter into two parts, with one goal: to identify the real mother. This wisdom, shown by him, became decisive for the fate of several people. Wisdom is the result of life experience that is realized by man in all its depths. Unlike knowledge, wisdom cannot be taught. Wisdom requires personal experience and personal participation. Wisdom has great value: it is able to influence the feelings and will of man.
Philosophy is the love of wisdom, the desire to express wisdom with the help of reason, logic (public means). Everyone can become a philosopher if he shows a desire to think rationally, logically. Philosophy was formed as initial theoretical knowledge, as a reflection of the world in concepts, since the mythological worldview that existed before it no longer satisfied the spiritual needs of man. First of all, she set the task of finding the common causes of being and the existence of man in the world, and asked herself: why is the world like this? Therefore, in the very first, approximate understanding, philosophy can be defined as knowledge of the most general essence of being, human life and its relationship to the world. Consequently, the main object of philosophical analysis is the attitude: MAN — WORLD.
Philosophy is a huge layer of human knowledge and spiritual activity, numbering 25 centuries of its existence. It occurs almost simultaneously at once in three geographical points: in the West — in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome (VII-VI centuries BC); in the East — in Ancient India and China (XIX-VI centuries BC); on the Arabian Peninsula and in Ancient Egypt, Babylon.
The time when the basic religious and philosophical teachings arose, replacing the mythological worldview with a rational, philosophical one, which formed the type of person that exists today, is called “Axial time” (the term was introduced by K. Jaspers).
There are three main types of philosophizing:
- Eastern: contemplatively, aimed at self-knowledge of oneself as part
the whole (nature, spirit). Principles: silence and inaction.
- Western: rationalized, aimed at critical reflection and transformation of the world, man and society. Principle: expose everything
- Slavic: religious, mystical, aimed at understanding God and
divine world order in their direct connection with man.
The structure of philosophical knowledge:
- Ontology (the doctrine of being). The main question of ontology is what actually is, what is the world.
- Gnoseology is a philosophical doctrine of knowledge.
- Philosophical anthropology — a section of philosophical knowledge exploring problems of human being.
- Social philosophy — a section of philosophical knowledge exploring
society as a system, social relations.
- Axiology is a philosophical doctrine of values.
- Ethics — a philosophical doctrine of morality.
- Aesthetics is a philosophical doctrine of the beautiful.
There are many other sections of philosophical knowledge.
III. The main issue of philosophy and main directions
The main issue in philosophy is traditionally considered the issue of the driving forces of the development of the world:
1) The ontological side of the question: what is primary — matter or consciousness, nature or spirit.
2) The epistemological side of the question: about the relation of thinking to being, and being — to thinking (consciousness).
The importance of this issue lies in the fact that from its reliable
resolution depends on the construction of holistic knowledge about the world and the place of man in it, and this is the main task of philosophy. From the point of view of disclosing the first side of the main issue of philosophy (ontological) in the system of general philosophical knowledge, the following areas are distinguished:
- Materialism — a philosophical direction that affirms the primacy of matter and the secondary nature of consciousness;
- Idealism — a philosophical direction that affirms the primacy of consciousness (mind, spirit) and the secondary nature of matter (nature);
- Dualism — a philosophical direction that states that matter and consciousness develop independently of each other and go in parallel. (Dualism could not stand the criticism of time).
In the twentieth century in Western European philosophy, there has been a tendency to pay less attention to the traditional fundamental issue of philosophy, since it is intractable and is gradually losing its relevance.
IV. Methods of philosophical knowledge
Philosophy uses a special way of cognition — reflection. Philosophical reflection — the self-reversal of thought on oneself, a form of theoretical human activity, which is aimed at comprehending their own actions, culture and its foundations; self-knowledge activity, revealing the specifics of the spiritual and spiritual world of man. If the world itself is reflected in science through a system of concepts, formulas, theories and laws, then philosophy itself reflects the thinking of the world.
Philosophy also uses all general scientific methods of cognition (analysis, synthesis, abstraction, etc.).
The main philosophical methods of cognition
- Metaphysics (from ancient Greek “Τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά”— “What comes after physics”) is a method of considering the initial speculative entities, causes of the world, inaccessible to the senses. For example, the subject of metaphysics is the essence of love, faith, God, soul, freedom. Metaphysics as the first philosophy and method of cognition has its history from Ancient Greece.
- Dialectics — a consideration of the world by the principle of universal communication and development, taking into account historical changes. Dialectics in its first form originated in ancient Greece, but it flourished in German classical philosophy and Marxism.
V. Philosophy and science
Science is a special kind of cognitive activity, aimed at developing objective, systematically organized, justified and verifiable knowledge of the world.
Despite the differences, philosophy and science have common features: philosophy is scientific, as it seeks to substantiate its conclusions, seeks to prove, seeks to be systematic as a whole. But nevertheless, the main difference between philosophy and other sciences in its worldview status, in its super-theoreticity, in the subject area that covers the whole world, is all real and potential, visible and invisible.
VI. The main functions of philosophy
- Worldview: the ability to give a picture of the world as a whole, to combine the data of sciences, arts, practices.
- Gnoseological: the ability of philosophy to carry out a theoretical study of human cognitive activity in order to identify the mechanisms, techniques and methods of cognition.
- Methodological: the ability to act as a methodology, i.e. in the role of the doctrine of the methods of cognition and transformation of reality.
- Value-orientating: the ability to give a system of criteria for valuation activities, to orient a person in the world.
- Critical: the ability to assess what is happening in the world on the basis of the general concepts contained in philosophy about the norm and pathology of the phenomena and processes of reality surrounding a person.
- Integrating: the ability to generalize the knowledge accumulated by mankind, systematize and integrate it into a single system.
- Educational: the ability of philosophy to exert a formative influence on human consciousness, to instill universal, social and cultural values.
- Predictive: the ability to give predictions of the development of society, man, civilization.
Philosophy is the search for and finding by man of answers to the main questions of his being. Philosophy is scientific, value loaded. The purpose of philosophy is the exaltation of man, providing universal conditions for his improvement.