Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Philosophy for Dummies

I’ve recently been introduced to www.coursera.org by a friend. If you are fond of broadening your horizons aka studying about new things, well then coursera is the thing for you. How does it work you ask? Well I’m really not in the mood of explaining the whole process (read I have NO idea how it happens) so you can watch the TED Talk by Daphne Kohler the Stanford-professor-cum-dynamo behind the project.

So my first course is called “Know Thyself”, it is a sort Philosophy for Dummies class by Prof Mitchell Green of the University of Virginia, and the course and the Prof are both agreeing with me well so far.

So since I am half way through the 10 week course I decided to give you a crash course in philosophy so far. Below is a list of the most important things I have learnt from each of these renowned Philosophers.

Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living. So constant self-examination read day dreaming is not a colossal waste of time. It is in fact intrinsically philosophical. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the big man!

Note: for those of you who were actually hoping to learn something about Socrates, here's a little something

Descartes: Philosophy trumps Mathematics. Period. You may spend your life coming up with nonsense stuff, namely the Cartesian coordinate system, but towards the end of your life what’s important is proving that a piece of wax exists.

I found this great video on Descartes, thanks to a fellow courserian!

Gilbert Ryle: Smart is as Smart does. So say you know 2 plus 2 is 4. The really important thing is what you do with that knowledge.

Video Below.

Sigmund Freud: If you can’t beat them, accuse them of foul play! In his introductory lectures on Psychoanalysis, Freud states that anyone who resists his methodology or technique, probably himself has something to hide. Brilliant! How did I not see this coming?? Forget finding Grammar mistakes the next time I’m losing an argument, I’m gonna go all out hysterical and blame people of hiding things! Also his theory about Sex and Violence governing all facets of life was a close second for the best thing I learnt from him.

And well I dont know about you but this picture on the cover of the book "Introductory lectures on Psychoanalysis psyches the bejesus out of me.

Timothy Wilson: (not really one of those extremely well known philosophers but still) The Spin Doctor inside. Wilson talks about a spin doctor present inside each one of us in the form of the unconscious or in his explanation the sub conscious, that is essential as it possible for us to justify our actions and move on.

Yes well I thought he might get lonely without a picture or video.

And well some of us just have more spin in us than others, so we will for example believe that eating a chocolate cake is perfectly okay while dieting because the basic aim of the diet was to count calories. Well the cake has 10000 calories, and since I have counted the calories all that is left is for me to eat it. (this example is purely context for your understanding and totally fictional and does not reflect on any person alive or dead, although one might argue that I am currently dieting).