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PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION/M.

ED
UNIT-01: THE NATURE & SCOPE O PHILOSOPHY

1.1 Definition and scope of philosophy.

Definition and meaning of Philosophy;


Traditionally the word, philosophy, means the description of study like logic, sociology,
psychology etc.
Surfacely the word, philosophy means view, vision and outlook of a particular person to a
particular thing.
Literally, philosophy is the study of nature and meaning of the universe and of human life.
(Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary: Sixth edition)
The origin of Philosophy is from two Greek words Philos meaning love and Sofia
meaning knowledge or wisdom. So, the total meaning is the love for knowledge or love for
wisdom.
Now some authentic definitions of philosophy by some distinguished philosophers:
Philosophy is the science and criticism of cognition. (Kant)
Philosophy is the science of knowledge. (Fichte)
Philosophy aims at the knowledge of the eternal, of the essential nature of things.
(Plato)
Philosophy is the science which investigates the nature of being as it is in virtue of its
own nature. (Aristotle)
Philosophy is the science of sciences. (Comte)
Philosophy is the sum total of all scientific knowledge. (Dr. Paulsen)

Explanation;

Although, contemporary philosophers do not parade themselves As wise men, wisdom is


certainly an attribute of philosophy. But who is a wise man? Such a person must also think
critically and deeply about the world around him. It is only when a person has these qualities that
you can refer to him as a wise man or a philosopher. In order words, how much schooling or
paper qualification a man has, does not account for his becoming a philosopher.

Now, let us look at some definitions of philosophy. Philosophy has been defined as:

a. A mental attitude between science and religion. Like science, it is concerned about factual
evidence about the world. Like religion, philosophy is never definite about anything said about
the nature of God or man.

b. A way of simplifying complex ideas and statements about our experiences in life in order to
make us understand them fully.

c. A study which examines the nature of the world and the reasons behind many things or events
happening in it.

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THE SCOPE OF PHILOSOPHY

It covers the following areas of study:

(i) A comprehensive explanation of why man occupies a particular position in the world.

(ii) An explanation of the nature of knowledge and its relevance to human life.

(iii) A study of theories and principles which guide social behaviour.

Philosophy as a subject examines the question which affects human existence and the existence
of other objects in the world. The subject also examines the question of the existence of God and
other divine forces.

The subject also examines and clarifies important topics like life, happiness and time,
predestination, immorality among others. When we study such topics, we study an area of
philosophy called metaphysics.

Helps to Understand Nature of Learner

A teacher should study this subject because it would help him to understand human nature better
and, therefore, be better able to develop the knowledge of his learner. This is why you need to
study it well. Philosophy is also concerned with studying the nature of knowledge.

Tries to Define Knowledge

Philosophers try to define knowledge. They try to identify the qualities of knowledge. They try
to trace the origin and source of knowledge. While some philosophers believe that knowledge
comes from reasoning, others believe that it comes from senses. Again, others believe that
knowledge is determined by the person looking for it. The branch of philosophy concerned with
knowledge is called epistemology. It is important to education because to be able to educate, we
must have knowledge. Again, the process of education is the processes of making people acquire
knowledge. As you read through, you are acquiring knowledge.

Concerned With the Principles Guiding Social Actions

Philosophy is also concerned with the principles guiding our social actions. This is called ethics
or moral philosophy. Again, philosophy interpret good, bad, right or wrong in many ways.
This again depends on their background experience. To a person who is brought up in a period of
war, the good life may be the life of peace. To those who suffer from ignorance, knowledge to
them is good. Philosophers do not only try to define the good life, they also prescribe ways of
attaining it.

As an educator, you should know the ways of life that are valued to your people so that you can
prepare your learner for good social relations. This analytical function is considered to be the
primary over the years; philosophy has assumed a more moderate role by confining itself to

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analyzing and clarifying concepts and statements. It also tries to resolve issues in human life.
This is done in order to improve our understanding of the subject matter of life in general and
discipline as well.

1.2: Branches of philosophy;

A. Axiology;

The study of value; the investigation of its nature, criteria, and metaphysical status. More often
than not, the term "value theory" is used instead of "axiology" in contemporary discussions even
though the term theory of value is used with respect to the value or price of goods and services
in economics.

Axiology is usually divided into two main parts.

Ethics: The study of values in human behavior or the study of moral problems: e.g., (1) the
rightness and wrongness of actions, (2) the kinds of things which are good or desirable, and (3)
whether actions are blameworthy or praiseworthy.

Aesthetics: The study of value in the arts or the inquiry into feelings, judgments, or standards of
beauty and related concepts. Philosophy of art is concerned with judgments of sense, taste, and
emotion. E.g., Is art an intellectual or representational activity? What would the realistic
representations in pop art represent? Does art represent sensible objects or ideal objects?

B. Epistemology;

The study of knowledge. In particular, epistemology is the study of the nature, scope, and limits
of human knowledge.

Epistemology investigates the origin, structure, methods, and integrity of knowledge.

Consider the degree of truth of the statement, "The earth is round." Does its truth depend upon
the context in which the statement is uttered? For example, this statement can be successively
more accurately translated as

"The earth is spherical"


"The earth is an oblate spheroid" (i.e., flattened at the poles).

But what about the Himalayas and the Marianas Trench? Even if we surveyed exactly the shape
of the earth, our process of surveying would alter the surface by the footprints left and the
impressions of the survey stakes and instruments. Hence, the exact shape of the earth cannot be
known. Every rain shower changes the shape.

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C. Ontology or Metaphysics;

The study of what is really real. Metaphysics: Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that goes
beyond the realms of science. It is concerned with answering the questions about identity and the
world. The name is derived from the Greek words, Meta which means beyond or after, and
Physika which means physics. Aristotle, one of the most well known philosophers,
acknowledged Thales as the first known meta physician. The main branches of metaphysics are
ontology, natural theology and universal science.

What kinds of things exist? Do only particular things exist or do general things also exist? How
is existence possible? Questions as to identity and change of objectsare you the same person
you were as a baby? as of yesterday? as of a moment ago?

How do ideas exist if they have no size, shape, or color? (My idea of the Empire State Building
is quite as "small" or as "large" as my idea of a book. I.e., an idea is not extended in space.) What
is space? What is time?

E.g., Consider the truths of mathematics: in what manner do geometric figures exist? Are points,
lines, or planes real or not? Of what are they made?

What is spirit? or soul? or matter? space? Are they made up of the same sort of "stuff"?

D. Logic

Logic (from the Greek "logos", which has a variety of meanings including word, thought, idea,
argument, account, reason or principle) is the study of reasoning, or the study of the principles
and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. It attempts to distinguish good reasoning from
bad reasoning.

Deductive Logic;

Deductive logic/reasoning concerns what follows necessarily from given premises (i.e. from a
general premise to a particular one). An inference is deductively valid if (and only if) there is no
possible situation in which all the premises are true and the conclusion false. However, it should
be remembered that a false premise can possibly lead to a false conclusion.

Deductive reasoning was developed by Aristotle, Thales, Pythagoras and other Greek
philosophers of the Classical Period. At the core of deductive reasoning is the syllogism (also
known as term logic), usually attributed to Aristotle), where one proposition (the conclusion) is
inferred from two others (the premises), each of which has one term in common with the
conclusion. For example:

Major premise: All humans are mortal.


Minor premise: Socrates is human.
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal

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An example of deduction is:

All apples are fruit.


All fruits grow on trees.
Therefore all apples grow on trees.

One might deny the initial premises, and therefore deny the conclusion. But anyone who accepts
the premises must accept the conclusion i.e. when the premises are true, conclusion must also be
true.

Inductive Logic;

Inductive logic/reasoning is the process of deriving a reliable generalization from observations


(i.e. from the particular to the general), so that the premises of an argument are believed to
support the conclusion, but do not necessarily ensure or validate it. Inductive logic is not
concerned with validity or conclusiveness, but with the soundness of those inferences for which
the evidence is not conclusive.

Many philosophers, including David Hume, Karl Popper and David Miller, have disputed or
denied the logical admissibility of inductive reasoning. In particular, Hume argued that it
requires inductive reasoning to arrive at the premises for the principle of inductive reasoning,
and therefore the justification for inductive reasoning is a circular argument.

An example of strong induction (an argument in which the truth of the premise would make the
truth of the conclusion probable but not validate) is:

All observed crows are black.


Therefore:
All crows are black.

An example of weak induction (an argument in which the link between the premise and the
conclusion is weak, and the conclusion is not even necessarily probable) is:

I always hang pictures on nails.


Therefore:
All pictures hang from nails.

1.3 Relationship of philosophy with Religion, Science and Art.

A. Relationship of philosophy with Religion

Philosophy is secular and deals with either things which are identifiable with the senses and/or
really great guesses about the origins of thought and belief. Religion, on the other hand, is sacred
and deals with either thing which are identifiable with the senses and/or really great as super
natural etc that cannot be verified through senses but are believed to be true.

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While many scholars and practitioners of both disciplines will affirm that there is an inseparable
ocean between the two, I would argue that the similarities unite them more than divide.

Religion usually deals with that which is above and beyond the imaginings of man and deals
with that which is fundamental to our meaning and ultimate connection with our reason for
existing. It is that which is supernatural, meaning above the everyday 'natural', and contains our
interaction with a power that is above and beyond us.

B. Relationship of philosophy with Science

Can philosophy develop by itself, without the support of science? Can science "work" without
philosophy? Some people think that the sciences can stand apart from philosophy.

However, science and philosophy have always learned from each other. Philosophy simply gains
material for broad generalizations from scientific discoveries, while it imparts the world-view
and methodological impulses of its universal principles to the sciences. Many general guiding
ideas that serve as the foundation of modern science were first expressed by philosophical
thought. One example is the idea of the atomic structure of things propagated by Democritus (a
Greek philosopher).

Every major scientific discovery is at the same time a step forward in the development of the
philosophical world-view and methodology. Philosophical statements are based on sets of facts
studied by the sciences and also on the system of propositions, principles, concepts and laws
discovered through the generalization of these facts. The achievements of the specialized
sciences are summed up in philosophical statements.

So the connection between philosophy and science is mutual and characterized by their ever
deepening interaction.

C. Relationship of philosophy with Art

Philosophy, science and art differ principally according to their subject-matter and also the
means by which they reflect, transform and express it. In a certain sense, art, like philosophy,
reflects reality in its relation to man, and depicts man, his spiritual world, and the relations
between individuals in their interaction with the world. A common feature of art and philosophy
is the wealth they both contain of cognitive, moral and social substance.

The main responsibility of art to society is the formation of a view of the world, a true and large-
scale assessment of events, a rational, reasoning orientation of man in the world around him, a
true assessment of his own self.

The most outstanding and brilliant exponents of art like Shakespeare and Goethe were filled with
a sense of the exceptional importance of philosophy. The immortality of their great masterpieces
lies in the power of their artistic generalization, generalization of the most complex phenomenon
in the worldman and his relations with his fellow men.

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In short art and philosophy are the two sides of the same coin. They focus on the reality and
existence of man in relation to society and God.