What is Philosophy?

the most concise work of applied philosophy ever known

What is Philosophy?
Most people know what religion is. For those who don’t go to church with their family, religion is an organized way of helping people to grow spiritually; that means mainly to help the good stay good, to help people improve – especially morally, and in terms of their awareness, and to help people to help each other better. Religion is usually also associated with beliefs: beliefs and methods.
Philosophy addresses many of the same core questions that religion does, and that science also does. Due to that, sometimes philosophy can be understood as being part of religion and part of science but other times it isn’t. For example: what is knowledge? and Is God real? If so, what is God like? are all normal philosophical questions.
Sometimes philosophy is viewed as conflicting with religion or with science. How do we know that scientific research methods are as good as or better than religious writings like The Bible? Are both just as good? Are social science case studies and legal witness testimonies any better, worse or as good as testimonies about God’s activities in The Bible and elsewhere? Are they scientific evidence? If so, then why do scientists sometimes complain about religious people or claim they are unscientific and superstitious?
There are also famous or infamous atheist philosophers, including David Hume and Friederich Nietzsche, and Bertrand Russell. They were able to write and to publish without being burned at the stake by other people and they were not struck down by God for not being believers. However, David Hume did not dare publish while he was alive because the Church was so powerful in his day and he was terrified of them.
Many theologians also study philosophy, and those who do not fear and hate it, in contrast refer to it as ‘the handmaiden of theology’.
Ethics
Ethics is the philosophical term for morality when people try to talk about it as if it is not religion. Many theologians and others are comfortable dealing with morality as ethics. The types of problems that ethicists (moralists) deal with are often political; they require thinking about both the small and the large scales in life.
Here are a few examples:
1) At what point can a physician remove life support from an unconscious patient and not be breaking their Hippocratic Oath to protect and preserve life?
This one is clearly a medical question. Hence, hospitals are one place where ethicists often work, but as there are standards for the large scale, agreements about such matters turn into laws, regulations and public policies. As such, they are also political.
2) How many refugees can the country take in, in an emergency? To what extent does a nation’s right to protect itself and it’s own welfare override a moral obligation to help those in need – such as refugees? This is more obviously political, but is just as personal as the previous one. Clearly, this is not medical ethics.
Both of these questions can be looked at from a definitely religious perspective but may have to be faced by people who do not consider themselves to be religious or to even have a religion. Neither question has a quick, easy cut and dried answer.
People who consistently address these questions from a religious perspective are still doing moral philosophy or ethics. It is just that, this is also philosophy to those who take any other kind of approach to seeking good answers to the same kinds of problems.
When it is not
Philosophy is not always religion, and not everything in religion is philosophy.
When Socrates asked the young men at Plato’s parties if they knew what “justice” is, he was not trying to practice religion. When Aristotle chose to catalog animals while working for Alexander the Great he was not doing it as religion. Both were activities of philosophy.
Many religious activities are caused by the God-based philosophy (also known as theology), but the ritual of each religion is not philosophy itself. Many of the good works done, such as building schools and hospitals and feeding the hungry are likewise based in theology but are not philosophy itself.
Many businesses put together a paragraph or two about their company’s philosophy for employees and other customers. That is normally not considered to be religion.
Together and Separate
Philosophy and religion can be found together or treated separately. Real life is holistic of course, so there may be times when a categorical separation seems artificial but that’s okay. If you are used to one, but not the other rest assured that you can know both quite intimately. The better you know them, the less you will get confused about which is which.

*If you loved this article, check out Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them.  You can buy it online Five Big Questions in Life and how to answer them.

Advertisements

Culture Shock: 2 years after

Re-entry

Two years ago this coming November marks 2 years living back in the USA after 6 years in Germany.   Those of you who recall, may have read a post or two about ‘return culture shock’.  Maybe you wonder: was there any ‘re-entry culture shock and if so, how long did it last’?

 

wappen_doerverden-903000485-20620-31

Yes

The short answer is that yes there was culture shock upon returning to the USA for more than one reason.  One reason was that, much as I enjoyed how much everyone spoke English and I could finally go to my normal church, the relative lack of good public transit was not good.  To my own astonishment, I actually missed people speaking German and in fact, I still do.  This is even though, over there, I was only finally getting to be fluent, and still had to fight a cultural bias: a tendency to be dismissive of German language information as irrelevant because I’m an American or native speaker of English.  I was quite happy with myself as that tendency declined while living in Germany, but felt mildly stunned by how bad about that I still was after 5 years of living in Germany.

There are a few other matters, such as the amount of brick.  It is the norm in Stedorf, along with bales of hay.

Part of what I dealt with was being right near where I grew up.  Syracuse University Orangemen Football and Basketball….whereas in Ireland, the Orangemen means the Protestants of the Northern Counties.

There were familial issues which seemed to exacerbate a sense of confusion or dismay about it all.  My father was never comfortable with my husband being a German or about my son being both German and American rather than only American.  He wasn’t horrible about it, and sort of tried to treat that as acceptable but never quite did: this is a man whom I not sure ever wants to really see his daughter ‘married off’.  I mean, for some reason, I either can’t tell how he really feels about it or else I can but the truth makes us uneasy.   Some days he seems to feel I should be married off,  but other times he seemed delighted if some man of his baby girl’s turned out to just be a toy boy or temp rather than anyone who really permanently took her away from him.

Meanwhile, my mother and sister were just sort of nonplussed by my presence.  I think they may have tried to enjoy it, but felt bad knowing it was induced more by hardship than by pure love…and sort of trying to ameliorate the problem and to try being kind while making me feel guilty about having turned up and not having left after 3 days….Or even, guilty for seeming to want love and attention from relatives I haven’t spent much time around for 20 years or so.  I had hoped that our having time together would be cause for celebration and that we would update our relationships, get on well etc…but instead what happened caused me to nearly regret having even turned up and I nearly went back to Germany rather than staying in the country.

Terrain: in reality, CNY is loaded with hills.  They are not giant mountains or anything of the sort, but both Indianapolis and the area around Bremen, are flat lands.  I spent a total of 16 years in flat lands having been raised in this hilly terrain.  It felt wonderful to be back and yet strange to deal with actual hills and other traits of the land I come from.

No

Of course not!

Not True

In reality, in 1999 I returned to living in the USA after 5 years of living in Southern England, North Greater London, and Slough, Berkshire mostly.  That time, I moved to Indianapolis, where I had never lived before in my life.  It was most definitely back to living in my native country!  at the same time, it was somewhere new.  Even so,  locals told me that it took a year for me to “lose my accent” by which they meant what I and the English perceived as my “watered down American accent”.

Again, when I reached the point of having lived in the North side of Indianapolis for 5 years I did have weird emotions: it really was as long as I’d lived in England.  My second year back I had started saying “Dude” again, which was a major shift.

I’ve been back from living in a village around Bremen, Germany for more than 18 months now.  I still miss needing and using German a lot more.  I still miss fantastic public transportation.  There are other qualities of the nation’s culture that I find that I do honestly miss.  Some are the public support system and educational system.  Some are much more subtle – I’m not even always sure what it is that I’m missing.  There was something different about the air quality there, which I never understood.

At the same time, I’m really finding myself easily ‘moved’ in a happy way about various organizations that are around here – I mean stuff like: the schools I went to growing up actually are around here.  The neighborhoods I lived in growing up really are right in my current local area.

Here and there are people I knew, and I fairly frequently come across others who are or have been involved with some organization I was also part of: a a dojo, a school, a Y, or a church, or even a bar or party place.

It is relaxing to have such free use of my native language again and to have it be in common use.  Of course, I always knew that people speak any language because that’s what the people around there spoke like when they were there.  I realized that in Germany as much as I did here, but that simple lesson has somehow been deeply reinforced.

Different / Changed

I think maybe the truth is that I feel changed, neither in a good or a bad way, but just different.  My perspective and experience were definitely effected.  My attitude towards foreign residents is nothing like it was 25 years ago.  I was never cruel nor malicious but now I’m downright sympathetic and realize that being foreign can be a struggle but also gives a spirit of adventure to every day life.

I certainly wouldn’t say that I won’t live in a different nation again: I would love to live in London, England more: especially if the circumstances would be nice…and I would even brave Germany more, but would prefer to try a city and in whichever nation I would prefer to have a good job or to have plenty of money even if I don’t have a job.

 

Which year did you learn that?

Welcome back and thanks again to everyone who has given feedback with the thumb marker or by posting a comment.

Today’s topic, now that I am back in Germany is more along the lines of ‘what year did I learn that – word?’.   This week I am having to attend to some business.  As is so often the case with the German language there are times when I am so glad that I have finally come to know what more of it means and other times when I realize that I still have no idea what the person means by telling me what s/he is telling me in the German language.  I have grown accustomed to a lifestyle in which these types of experiences are commonplace. 

Just yesterday I went someplace.  I know, that was really vague.

Yesterday I went to something actually called a Zulassungstelle.  If you’re German, you already know what that means and this is not all that interesting.  If you are a native speaker of English who does not speak German you can easily imagine a children’s or adult game in which people take wild guesses at what a word might mean.  What does it sound like? 

In truth, the way they say it in 21st century Lower Saxony, is inherently puzzling.  The ‘z’ doesn’t sound like a ‘z’ but actually more like a ‘tszu’ put together.  OK, this really sounds like gibberish:  Tzsu-lass-ung-shtell-ah.  Once the meaning is unlocked the experience is transformed.  It is the vehicle registration office at the county offices.  That’s all it is.  Obviously, for Germans who did not already know English that a Zulassungstelle (seeming normal!) is actually called ‘Ahh-toe re-gi-stra-shunn’ would actually also be very weird.  Once people get used to it, it loses a lot of that initial shock value and after a while becomes normal.  Last year, when I was 44 I still had no idea what that meant.  This week I had to go there and was thrilled that I was no longer staggered by that alone but then I realized that the woman helping me really said ‘dafuer’ more than once in ways that I was still not understanding clearly and I had that ‘color me foreign and still learning the language’ feeling. 

More about the readers December 2013

Hi everyone.  Today I’d like to thank you all for your patience as I learn how this thing works.  There are some comments making it through the layers of filtration.  Some filters are IP addresses and levels of computer hardware and cross-system networking that I don’t even know exist let alone understand, whereas other filters are ‘things’ such as subjective minds, personal defenses and occasionally generalized disbelief. 

Sales of the books could use a boost, so please do spread the word.  As I’m sure you understand, I do want to find those who are interested and will like them and can spend the money or have someone buy for them without any injuries and I would prefer that no one cries – not even me, from ‘the sales process’.  Urban crime fiction or a nonfiction self help booklet that can also be used for intro to philosophy classes in English speaking schools and universities. 

The wind here in the lower of the Saxonies is strong enough that there are weather warnings about it.  I haven’t lived anyplace where that is ‘so true’ before.  Hopefully it is not witchcraft from somewhere or a side effect of the pollution where the real ‘witchcraft’ was abusing the environment in our human lust for power.  In some cases that does mean electricity.  If the wind gets too intense they stop using the trains.  This makes sense but has not come up much before in my life so I notice it a lot.

an author’s random comments – learning as today’s topic de jour

I just read and commented at Culture Monk’s blog because apparently he liked my post yesterday.  Thank God someone read it and commented.  Hopefully a bunch more people read it even though they didn’t comment.

Learning.  Like so many of you all I’m still learning about life.   Some days I learn more about how to use the computer.  Other days like today, I learned more about which movies I own can be fast forwarded by which buttons on the son’s game controller.  Due to the mother and son lifestyle: I don’t have a normal video player.  We have a PS3 which is the teen son’s so he can play video games and the Mom (who the son calls Mim) watches movies using it.  Actually we have also both used it to play video games but because of that fast forward is a video game controller button.  I’m sure it’s not just us.  Not all videos are the same.  Maybe you already knew that, but I only learned that this year. 

Well, I guess that’s it today.

Yikes – what happened?

[looks flustered] Sorry all of you about last night – your yesterday if you are in North America.  In truth, I hardly used the Internet at all compared to some days and then I became engrossed with other activities.  I remembered when I went to bed, but decided to hold off on blogging again until the next day.  I felt bad about it only because it gives me so much hope that you are reading this and that more than one of you are a fairly regular or very consistent reader.

What I can tell you is that I actually really worked on a Gezka & Kiel novel.  This is easy in some ways and very challenging in other ways because in actual fact I wrote the first 2 drafts of this novel when I was 20 to 22 years old.  I will now turn 45 in just 3 weeks and I am still needing to get these novels out.  I attribute the majority of the delay to my communication problems – asking for help from funders, and to the devastation of my first big experience with cohabitation and marriage.  That relationship being ruined destabilized my life terribly.  What I can tell you is that all I did was manage to quit smoking cigarettes for a few days and all Hell began to break loose.

Today, my son is here.  We are between Christmas and New Year’s.  I have not completely learned how Germans open and close stores in relation to these holidays.  Yesterday I went out thinking maybe they had reopened, but they had not.  However, I know that they will be open some of the days between these holidays but don’t know.  In truth, the obvious thing to do is either go out exploring and find out or knock on a neighbor’s door and ask and learn it.  This is one of those situations where I feel a little awkward because even though that is clearly the correct answer, I probably will not even handle it that way.

Yesterday I did read in German, but it was literally a tiny children’s book about hedgehogs.  I have learned more, and have devised a fairly practical self-education program.  When I have learned enough of it, I will sign up to take the government’s test for a specific level.  I have learned the TELC language level codes.  Before 2011 or so, I did not know that.

Hope you are all having a wonderful day.  Learning how and where to provide talks and book signings here in Germany to market the books should be both fun and challenging.  English books for sale by American author who speaks conversational level German but isn’t really fluent.  [strange smile, but not as bad as the one Wednesday Addams had to find after having been subjected to like 18 hours of Disney films in the Happy Hut for having been a downer to the other campers and staff at Summer Camp].