History and Evolution of Philosophy: From Renaissance to Contemporary Times

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A Historical and Cultural Perspective of Philosophy II: Renaissance

Classical authors of Greco-Roman culture were explored and studied. During the 17th century, philosophers focused their interest on questions related to our knowledge of reality. During this period, two important branches of philosophy emerged: Rationalism (Descartes' innate ideas res cognition vs res extensa) and Empiricism (Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume) - our knowledge is originated in the sensorial information. There is no knowledge of any other kind. During the Enlightenment (18th century), philosophy believed that society must be improved. Philosophers argued that this improvement of society would be achieved by educating the population and cultivating free thought (Rousseau, Voltaire, Kant). Faith in human reason, universal human rights, and the importance of education. Finally, contemporary philosophy developed in the 19th to 20th century. This period is characterized by having diverse philosophical terms. Some of the themes that interested contemporary philosophy were society, morality, history, and human existence. Some of the most important philosophers of this period are Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche (19th century) as well as Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Sartre, Ortega Gaset, and Habermas (20th century).

Branches of Philosophy: Metaphysics and Gnoselogy

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy responsible for answering questions about reality. Plato was the first philosopher to approach metaphysics. Given that reality is everything that exists, the field of metaphysics is very broad. As a result, it is subdivided into three research areas: Ontology (this studies the general properties of being), Cosmology (this studies the origin of the Universe and the general properties of nature), and Theology (studies God as the creator of all other beings). Gnoselogy explores our knowledge of reality. It analyzes the possibilities and limits of human knowledge, the different methods we use to understand, and the role of reason and the senses. Epistemology (this studies the most elaborate and complete form of knowledge: scientific knowledge) and Logic (this studies the structure of arguments to determine which ones are valid and which ones aren't). Anthropology studies human beings. The word comes from the Greek term 'anthropos' which means 'human being'. We can study human beings from a wide range of perspectives: social and natural. Anthropology wants to understand what is specific to human beings, what makes us different from other animals.

Physical Anthropology

Analyses the anatomical and physiological features of humans. It pays particular attention to those features that differentiate us from other animals. Social or Cultural Anthropology focuses on the human tendency to live in society. Philosophical Anthropology, which is the only type of anthropology that is truly philosophical, tries to offer a global vision of human beings. Ethics, Aesthetics, and Political Philosophy: Rationality (theoretical, practical) philosophy: (theoretical (aims to understand reality), practical/is responsible for guiding our behavior. It can be subdivided into ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy). Ethics aims to find a rational foundation for our moral behavior. It wants to find the rational principles and inspire moral norms. Aesthetics seeks to define the existence of art. It wants to define beauty and the experience human beings have when exposed to art. Political Philosophy studies the relation of power by reflecting on laws, justice, authority, and different forms of government. Sensation-Perception-Imagination-Memory-Intelligence: Reason and senses: experience reality: hearing, seeing, tasting food. Sensitive Knowledge is the result of processing all this information in our mind. The information that reaches our senses is made up of sensations and perception. Sensations are psycho-physical phenomena. They occur when our sensory organs are stimulated. Perception is the interpretation of the sensations captured by our senses. Furthermore, our perception makes a second selection of stimuli when it constructs the object that has been perceived. Therefore, our perception does not provide us with a faithful reflection of reality, but with the result of selection, organization, and interpretation provided by the senses. Image: content of a perception possible or actual in the absence of the object (deal with images: imagination, memory). Imagination has no relation with the actual perception, in which the image appears (it's impossible to imagine a new color but it's possible to imagine the Eiffel Tower in a different color) - combination of elements of ancient perceptions without limits that are put in new images, making combinations without any control and possibility of combining images, controlled by images. Memory deals with images but these images are stuck to past perception. Intelligence: relation of practical things, capacity of solving problems.

Criteria for Distinguishing the Truth from Falsehood and the Theories of the Truth. The Objective Truth

When we want to know something, we are not satisfied until we are sure that we have arrived at the truth. Concept of truth: Terms of reality: truth = authenticity. Terms of knowledge: truth refers to statements and judgments, it's the opposite of falsehoods. Criteria to distinguish truth from falsehood: Empirical Evidence: a statement is true if it can be corroborated by information obtained from sensory experience. Rational Evidence: a statement is true if reason makes it impossible to doubt it. Coherence: any statement should be considered to be true if it does not contradict other statements that have been previously accepted within a given system. Authority: something is considered to be true if so stated by persons or institutions considered to be infallible or that have a greater knowledge than the rest. Consensus: something is true if only educated, rational subject accepts it as such. Usefulness: if the result of putting a statement into practice or applying what it affirms is beneficial, this statement can be considered to be truth. Theories of truth: Theory of Truth as Correspondence: truth is a special relationship that exists between reality and our thought, or how we express it through language. A statement is true when what it expresses corresponds to the reality it is referring to. Theory of Truth as Coherence: truth rather than in isolated statements is found in a system. Therefore, for a statement to be true, it is necessary for it not to contradict other statements that have been previously accepted as truth. Theory of Truth as Success: Something is true if it allows us to achieve success and false if it leads to failure. In other words, in order to evaluate the truth of a statement, we must examine the practical consequences that come from it.

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