Term Paper Example: Epistemology as a Philosophical Idea

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Human nature is the ground of every man's development. Epistemology is an essential idea in philosophy. It refers to the study of the nature of knowledge, justification, and rationality of belief. Philosophers have different perceptions about the sources of the human knowledge. This discussion will focus on Plato and Aristotle in explaining how the sources of human knowledge. The two differed with Plato believing that knowledge is derived from reasoning, rationalism. This means that there are ideas that exist independent of any human experience, for example, the Pythagorean Theorem in mathematics (Taylor, 1995). Plato also believed that certain natural classes of things such as the plants or horses constitute forms and that these categories transcend any given case; for example, elms and oaks being kinds of trees are recognized by anyone as naturally existing forms.

Plato's ideas influenced the developmental science. Jean Piaget's study of cognitive processes in children had a background in philosophy. Piaget studied the cognitive processes of how children develop the capability to form categories of objects at different levels of their development. Contrary to Plato, Aristotle was an empiricist who believed that human knowledge is a result of sensory experience; nothing could be known to human beings except via direct sensory experience (Taylor, 1995).

I agree with the views of both philosophers in that Plato's belief of rationalization is very evident in the way human beings put things with similar features in the same class, for example, all the flying animals, lay eggs with two legs are categorized as birds. No any other class that has such characteristics. I also support Aristotle's views that human beings acquire knowledge through experience, for example, it is through experience that nurses can give proper treatment to the patients. No single medical practitioner can treat a patient without first attending a medical school and practicing the same for some time.

What studying philosophy is all about?

Philosophy is neither a way of life nor a theory about something. Philosophy is unique than other fields of study in its methods, nature as well as the breadth of the subject. Philosophy pursues the questions in all the dimensions of the human life, with its techniques applicable in any area of study (Engel et al., 2007). No single definition expresses the richness of philosophy as it is described in various ways. Philosophy is the reasoned pursuit of the fundamental truths, a need for understanding, as well as the study of the principles of conduct. Philosophy provides human beings with the rational methods of dealing with conflicts, and the ways to evaluate ideas and arguments.

Philosophy as a discipline of study develops in the human beings the capability to perceive the world from the view point of other people and the other cultures by enhancing an individual's ability to see the connections among the different fields of study such as science, morality, religion, art, popular culture, politics, and/ or any other realm (Engel et al., 2007). Philosophy views all these fields both microscopically and in the world wide angle of the numerous concerns of the human existence.

Philosophy's major sub-fields are logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Logic deals with the provision of methods of differentiating good and bad reasoning. It helps human beings to evaluate how well their premises support their conclusions to avoid inadequate reasoning (Engel et al., 2007) Ethics refers to the human moral concepts such as taking the right action, moral obligation and justice, and it provides the principles that guide the moral decisions both in public and private life. Metaphysics tries to find out the basic standard for determining things that are real. That is, are there physical, mental, and abstract things?

Epistemology is all about the nature and the scope of knowledge; what it means to know the truth as well as nature of that truth. It also addresses issues such as whether there is knowledge beyond the human senses and the limits of a person's self-knowledge.

Why doing philosophy is so important.

Much of what students learn in philosophy is applicable in almost any endeavor because philosophy touches on many subjects and again because of its methods. Firstly, philosophy is important in problem-solving. The knowledge of Philosophy enhances the problem-solving skills of individuals. It helps people to analyze concepts, arguments, definitions, and problems. It improves the human capacity to organize ideas, handle questions of value, and as well extract essential ideas from masses of information. By studying philosophy, one can make subtle distinctions between views as well as discovering the similarities between any two opposing positions. It also helps individuals to synthesize various viewpoints into a unified whole.

The second importance of doing philosophy is that it helps in the development of communication skills. Philosophy contributes largely to the development of the expressive and communicative powers. Some core competencies of self-expression such as those for presenting one's ideas in a systematic, well-constructed argument are a result of philosophical studies (Matthews, 1994). It is with the help of the philosophical knowledge that a person can express their distinctive views, gain the ability to explain material that is difficult and eliminate ambiguities from their speech and writing.

Philosophy has a persuasive power too. Philosophy offers training in the construction of formulations that are clear, apt examples, and good arguments. It is thereby helpful in an individual's development of the impressive ability. Philosophy helps one learn to build as well as defend his/her views, appreciate competing views, and give a justification as to why their opinion is preferable to alternatives. Last but not the least; philosophical knowledge is necessary for the writing skills. In many philosophical courses, writing is intensively taught. The philosophical discipline teaches interpretive writing by an examination of disparate texts, and comparative writing by emphasizing on the need for fairness to the alternative positions (Matthews, 1994). It also teaches argumentative writing by developing the student's ability to set up their views and as well teaches descriptive writing by portraying very concrete examples. Philosophy encourages originality, and the teachers urge the students to use their imaginations to develop their ideas.

Existentialism as an idea that might impact my life

The philosophical idea that might change how I live is existentialism which centers on the analysis of human beings in the world. Existentialism explains that human beings exist first and later each their life changing their essence. Simply, existentialism is concerns finding oneself as well as life meaning through free will, personal responsibility, and choice. Existentialistic ideas emerged in the society when people were in deep despair after World War II and Great depression (Macquarrie, 1972). The society had the spirit of optimism that the World War II destroyed and since then the community has adopted an existential form of reasoning and thinking.

An existentialist can be either an agnostic relativism, religious moralist, or a moral atheist. Existentialism holds that human life is not in a single way complete nor entirely satisfying since human beings experience a lot of suffering and losses when considering lack of power, perfection, and control over one's life even though it agrees that life is optimally not satisfying if has no meaning. Existentialism is the quest and a journey for the true self and actual personal life purpose. Importantly, it is arbitrary act existentialism finds to be most objectionable; when a person or the society demands that their values, beliefs, or rules be faithfully obeyed and accepted. In their view, existentialists believe that this will destroy individualism and make people be whatever those individuals in power desire.

Existentialism might impact my life because it emphasizes on human free will, choosing human nature through life choices and that an individual is at their best when struggling against individual nature, and fighting for their life. It also considers that all decisions have stress and consequences that some things are not rational, and that personal discipline and responsibility are crucial. Lastly, existentialism agrees that the society is unnatural with arbitrary traditional religious as well as secure rules and that the earthly desire is futile (Macquarrie, 1972). On the contrary, it does not support that pleasure, wealth, and honor give one real life, that social structure and values control individuals, accept what is and enough in life as well, or that science makes everything better. It also objects that the society or external forces ruin people who are good.

So, philosophy refers to an activity of thought that may become the way of life. It is primarily a quest for wisdom, a critical and a general inquiry into ways through which people use to get all they want and value.



Engel, S.M., Soldan, A., & Durand, K. (2007). The study of philosophy: Rowman & Littlefield.

Macquarrie, J. (1972). Existentialism.Matthews, M. R. (1994). Science teaching: The role of history and philosophy of science. Psychology Press.

Taylor, C. (1995). Philosophical Arguments. Harvard University Press.

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