Required Reading: Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book I, Ch. 1-5; Bertrand Russell “What is the Value of Philosophy?”
The purpose of this exercise is to consider the difference between philosophy as part of the arts and humanities, versus philosophy as a speculative science. To help you address the points raised in the chapter from Russell’s book, The Problems of Philosophy, I would like you to also read Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Book I, Ch. 1&2. The chapters from Aristotle’s Metaphysics will help put into perspective one of the practical goals of philosophical inquiry, which is to form the theoretical basis empirical science.
Secondly, while philosophers are very interested in science as we commonly understand it, they are also very interested in something none of the other empirical sciences stud – Morality. Considering such questions as “How do you know what are good actions?” or “Why should I try to live a moral life?”, demonstrate some of the most important and seemingly most impenetrable question about human. Yet regardless of how impenetrable these questions are to people, we have found ways to answer them. The most crucial of these way is by the process of self-reflection and dialogue. Socrates’ declaration in Apology, “Know yourself,” does a person no good if they have no one else to discuss it with!
For this assignment, begin by considering again Socrates in Plato’s Apology. Secondly, and using Aristotle, compare the position of Socrates to that of Russell. Consider both historical circumstance and possible aims in each of the authors’ writings. Explain what each author thinks the place of philosophy in human life. Second, identify one area which the goals of morality and the goals of science might come into conflict. Finally, explain how you think Socrates’, or Russell’s, argument might provide a solution.