Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge, Action, & Enlightenment
The practices of philosophy and rhetoric actually preceded and gave birth to science as we know it. Philosophy was not only practiced by most if not all scientists up until the 20th century, it was also considered an important epistemological part of the two major branches of early science, both “natural history” (biology, geology, and anthropology) and “natural philosophy” (physics, chemistry, astronomy, and mathematics). Scientists were called "natural philosophers" up until the 19th century, during which the word "scientist," gradually around 1834, became the preferred professional designation. But with the rise of science, we have lost sight of the importance of philosophy and rhetoric. In the United States over the last century the practices of philosophy and rhetoric became professionalized as adjunct disciplines focused on logic and linguistics. Both fields are now defined very narrowly and routinely placed beyond the boundaries of ordinary human beings. This book is not about philosophy as it is currently practiced, the so-called "analytical" philosophy derived from logical positivism in the early 20th century. Instead, this book investigates a much older practice that I believe to be a central part of what makes human beings human. Philosophy is an ancient and continual practice that examines "the intrinsic value of living." It enables an "understanding of oneself, one's world, and how best to live in that world." It focuses on the central human question, How to live?
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