Philosophy AS & A-Level
What is Philosophy?
Philosophy literally means ‘love of wisdom’. It asks questions like:
- Why does anything bother to exist at all?
- What do we know, and how we know that we know it?
- Is there a metaphysical/religious origin to the universe? Can this be shown by reason and logic?
- How we should live morally?
- What political system is best?
- and perhaps most fascinating of all, What is the nature of the mind and of consciousness? What would happen if someone’s brain were to be split into two, and each hemisphere transplanted into a donor brain cavity? Which brain hemisphere would have the original consciousness? One of them? Both? Neither? If this confuses you and you enjoy the confusion, then Philosophy is for you!
Why should we study it?
Because is has been the most influential subject in the history of the world. The world has been run by philosophers and philosophies since civilization first emerged, sometimes well, sometimes not so well. The Philosophies of the Greeks – Plato and Socrates – underpin virtually every aspect of our culture (even our language). Think of the philosophy of Marxism, which is at the centre of the political system of Communism, which has dominated the USSR, China, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The philosophy of Nietzsche was perverted by Hitler to produce Nazi philosophy, which was used to justify the execution of 9 million men, women and children in concentration camps during World War II.
At AS level, you take two options from a broad range of options, including Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Religion, Moral Philosophy, What is a Person? and The Value of Art.
At A2, we look at two Key Themes in Philosophy, from Philosphy of Mind, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Moral Philosophy and Philosophical Texts: a choice of Plato, Hume, Descartes or Nietzsche.