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Philosophy as Quest Part I

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The word philosophy comes from ancient Greek; philos = love and sophos = wisdom. Philosophy has roots in an ancient idea of “the love of wisdom.” Of course, people have ever disagreed over what counts as wisdom. Due to such disagreements, philosophy is often considered a large-scale debate that has lasted for most of human history. It is not all differences, though; for every human culture has some activity that is recognizable as philosophy and shares some ideas with the philosophies of other cultures. Philosophy has given rise to political systems, legal processes, literary genres, scientific reasoning, and technical innovations.

Most important, philosophy is a personally relevant activity to every conscious being. I want to outline some of the history and character of Western philosophy, but my primary aim is to make clear the direct significance of philosophy to you, dear reader. I maintain that every living and aware human being has a stake in the philosophical enterprise. This is because every human being has a belief-system that mediates the perceptions, values, assumptions, and understandings that make up a unique individual. Many people never think about their own belief-system, but take it for granted as just given. People have the remarkable ability to reflect on themselves. Because of this, we can explore, evaluate, and even change our own belief-systems in a purposeful way. Through self-investigation we can increase our knowledge of ourselves. Self-knowledge is a form of wisdom, so the roots of philosophy as the love of wisdom comes to be the care for oneself.

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2004 © Jon Dorbolo