I had my first tutorial today for PH1101E (Philosophy – Reason and Persuasion). And I must say, it’s quite – if you’ll pardon the cliche – an eye-opener. Or mind-opener, should I say.
It wasn’t the content that we went through. Liling (our tutor, who isn’t very much older than us, and is studying for her Masters in Ethical Philosophy now) didn’t try to explain what Euthyphro (one of Plato’s dialogues) was about because, duh, we’re expected to know that, apparently. What she did instead was teach us a logical method of thinking. Apparently, philosophy is sort of like the uncovering of basic assumptions of the things we think we know, but don’t actually quite know, until we finally know that we don’t know. And what Socrates does is establish people’s arguments, put them together in a logical, coherent trend, and then point out the fallacies or false premises of their arguments. Which is why they call him the gadfly of Athenian society, since that’s apparently what a gadfly does (and yes, I realise I’ve used the word ‘apparently’ thrice so far, but it’s the only word I know that conveys a tinge of sarcasm).
So we were presented with this argument in Euthyphro:
Premise 1: Nothing can be both holy and unholy. (So claimed Euthyphro.)
P2: What the gods love is holy (by the way, ‘holy’ here means unviolated and pure, not you know, the holy that we know); what the gods hate is unholy.
P3: In some cases, some gods may love holiness and some gods may hate holiness.
P4: Given P2 and P3, some things are both holy and unholy.
P5: P4 (which is supported by P2 and P3) contradicts P1. Therefore, either P1, P2, or P3 is false.
P6: Assuming P1 and P3 are true (following Euthyphro’s argument), P2 is false.
I know. It’s crazily logical. And for a completely illogical person like me, who therefore find it tough to follow a LOGICAL (the horror!) line of reasoning, it takes some getting used to. It also doesn’t help that my classmates are the LOGICAL sort and are able to hop on the trend of thought easily. Still, at least they’re nice, and we can all engage in a healthy, friendly discussion.
Hopefully, tomorrow’s NM1101E and EL1101E tutorials will be just as rewarding.