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Ministry of Health of Ukraine

Donetsk National Medical Gorky’s University

Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences and Humanities


Philosophic propaedeutics.

A course of lectures for foreign students in English at a medical HEI

Donetsk 2009

UDK 316

BBK 87.3

A 18

V.Alexandrovskaya Philosophic propaedeutics. A course of lectures for foreign students in English at a medical HEI. – Donetsk: Gorky’s Donetsk National Medical University, 2009. - 99 p.

Sciental reviens :

G. V. Grebenkov, Doctor of Philosophy;

P. G. Davydov, Candidate of Philosophy.

Translated by V.Alexandrovskaya, A.Dolgih

Approved at the Academic Council of the Donetsk National Medical University

(Minutes 8, 28th November 2009 )

ББК 37.293



Lecture 1.

Philosophy and worldview


  1. Genesis and worldview structure.

  2. Historical types of ideology.

  3. The sphere of philosophical problems: the problem of being, cognition, society and an individual.

  4. Philosophy in spiritual culture of society.

  5. Philosophical thinking, its characteristics and historical development.

1. Ideology is an integral element of human consciousness. It is a complex interaction of cognition elements. It is a totality of views and estimations that define a general understanding of the world.

Ideology of human communities has concrete-historical character and it reflects evident and hidden processes of social changes. It is an integral notion:

  • it comprises generalized knowledge ( scientific, professional, life and practical). The more knowledge an individual or society accumulates, the wider his or its worldview is;

  • ideology comprises the system of values. In value consciousness aesthetic and moral ideals are formed;

  • the system of values plays an important role in individual, group and social worldview.

Ideology is a complex form of consciousness:

  • it comprises different layers of human experience and accumulates this experience;

  • different forms of ideology have their characteristic intellectual and emotional human experience;

  • emotional word of any person defines its attitude to the world; it is expressed in worldview;

  • intellect and feelings are interrelated and combined with will;

  • doubts, faith, confidence are obligatory components of worldview.

Thus, ideology is a complex, contradictory unity of knowledge and values, intellect and emotions, reasonable explanation of faith, doubts and arguments, traditional and creative thinking.

2. Mythology - a form of social consciousness, a way of world understanding which was typical for early stages of social development.

Myths are the earliest forms of spiritual culture of a mankind; they include sources of knowledge and religious beliefs. They used to be the universal form of consciousness, expressing the attitude to the epoch when it was created. Myths connected past, present and future, they formed collective ideas of this or that nation, provided spiritual connection of generations. Mythology included the search of nature and society and world and an individual unity. Because of the disappearance of the earliest social forms of life, myths stop existing but their problems reflected on religion and philosophy.

Religion – a form of ideology, in which the world is cognizable by its division into celestial and terrestrial. A peculiar feature of any form of spiritual world cognition is the creation of artificial world. The basis of religious ideology is faith into the existence of supernatural forces and their role in world creation. Faith is a way of religious consciousness existence, a special mood, characterizing its inner state. Religion is a complex spiritual unity, social and historical phenomenon. The main function of religion is formation of understanding of a human mankind unity and importance of moral norms. There is some common feature between religion and philosophy: these two forms are both social and historic; they both solve common tasks of world understanding and influence consciousness. But unlike religion, philosophy is characterized by free-thinking; it considers intellectual worldview first of all and it is a science of wisdom search.

Philosophy (from Greek phileo – love; sophia – wisdom) literally means “love for wisdom”. Unlike religion and mythology, philosophy is based on intellect and logic analyses, generalization of facts. Wisdom was considered as striving for perfection of world cognition by means of intellect. The birth of philosophy meant the beginning of cultural change in Ancient Greece in the 8th-5th centuries B.C. Philosophical thinking is aimed not only at facts accumulation, but at total world understanding.

Thus, the appearance of philosophy raised the questions of knowledge and life experience harmony.

3. One of the most important problems in philosophy are the problems of being, cognition, human being and society. The following questions arise in the world of nature:

-What are the first and basic elements of the world?

-What is its substance?

-What is the world in time and space respect?

-Is there entity and integrity of the world and changeability in time?

In the sphere of social life the range of problems included:

-How could socium appear from a biological form of life?

-What structural elements make up a society?

-What are the basics of social systems changes and development?

-What is a social progress?

Problems connected with the world of a human being are:

-the problem of relationships between a man and the world; his place and his role in this world; if a person depended from the Creator or is a Creator himself;

-the problem of consciousness and life value;

4. Philosophical questions are variable, they are addressed to the historical experience, that’s why it’s not correct to concentrate attention on simple relations like “philosophy-science”, “philosophy-religion”. Thus, Hegel’s system included philosophy of nature, history, politics, low, religion, i. e. it comprised the world of human life and culture in its variability. Due to the open character of philosophical understanding of cultural world, Hegel’s scheme enables to add new forms of philosophical world understanding. From a cultural point of view, social life of people is a single, integral process, connected to the formation, storage and transformation of cultural and historical values, with overcoming of out of date forms of experience and establishing new ones. Philosophy perform some functions:

  • ideological as philosophy systematizes knowledge about the world in accordance with some accepted basic principles;

  • cognitive, connected with formulation of new ideas and problems, elaboration of theories and methods of cognitive process;

  • value function, connected with elaboration and explanation of spiritual values – ideas of sense of life, love, beauty, freedom etc. which define moral attitude of an individual to other people, society, animate and inanimate nature;

  • practical, which is expressed in practical recommendations: on behaviour and actions towards other people, society, state institutions, nature.

Since early childhood people start thinking over the secrets of world creation, human destiny and world mechanism. These questions are the result of the necessity in general orientation and a person’s determination in this world. Philosophy considers conscious attitude to the problems of world creation to be a necessary condition for personality formation. Philosophical thinking is necessary for life understanding and orientation in one’s speciality.

5. Philosophical cognition started with the question what the world in which we live is. It was considered by many sciences. In ancient culture philosophy developed together with mathematics that led to the appearance of the first grounded forms of theoretical thinking. The necessity in cognitive functions of philosophical thought appeared as a result of absence of science-theoretical knowledge. Unlike other types of theoretical knowledge, philosophy is universal theoretical cognition.

Aristotle stated that special sciences deal with the studying of types of being, but philosophy undertakes cognition of general principles and origin of every existing thing.

From I. Kant’s point of view, the main task of philosophy is in the synthesis of different human knowledge.

As far as theoretical philosophical cognition is concerned, it is characterized by consideration of the world in a broad sense. Thus, philosophical cognition is much wider than scientific one which is based on philosophy, as many philosophical questions can’t be answered by scientific understanding.

Lecture 2

Philosophy of the Ancient World


  1. Cultural and historic prerequisites of philosophy birth.

  2. The idea of being.

  3. The idea of cognition.

  4. The problem of a person and society.

  5. Development of antique dialectics.

  1. Historical conditions of philosophy birth:

  • growth of production development (with the transition from bronze usage to iron ore one);

  • appearance of commodity-money relations;

  • reduction of tribal structures;

  • appearance of the first states;

  • growth of traditional religion opposition;

  • criticism of accepted norms and ideas;

  • development of scientific knowledge.

Primarily, philosophy was understood as developing science and theoretical thought:

  • philosophic knowledge included practical observations and conclusions, scientific sources, people’s ideas of the world, which served the basis of philosophy as a science;

  • while human culture development, the subject of philosophy was changed. That’s why the definitions of philosophy were different;

  • the main question of ancient philosophy was the idea of origin of every existing thing. That was the ancient philosophers’ essence of consideration;

  • the task of a philosophical approach is to link the fragments of human knowledge led to the problem of multitude and unity.

The early forms of philosophical worldview were mythology and religion.

In India philosophy development passed through the way of opposition to Brahmanism, which included tribal beliefs and customs. In the 6th –5th centuries there appeared the opposition to Brahmanism and such study like adhzivika appeared (natural-fatalistic study). In China the first philosophical schools appeared in the 6th century B.C. In India philosophers distinguished real and phenomenal being. In China the was no such a category like being. Early Chinese philosophers analyzed value relationships of things, normative hierarchy. In China there existed the idea of Dao that defined the difference between real and phenomenal being.

2. Thales defined the origin of everything to be water: everything had liquid nature. Water is physis – liquid and floating; it was considered to be divine. “God is the earliest origin as He is born by nobody, that’s why He is the origin of everything,” His study provoked philosophers to study reality as a unity and its parts.

Parmenid considered being to be something cognizable by intellect but not senses. Sense perception is changeable, unstable. Being exists, non-being doesn’t exist. Something, that can’t be opposed to anything, cant exist.

Empedocles believed that appearance from nothing and disappearance to anywhere is impossible because being exists and non-being doesn’t exist. Birth and death don’t exist. Notions themselves are destroyed and transformed in infinite substances: water, air, fire and ground.

Democritus considered being simple, inseparable, like atom. Atoms are divided by emptiness; emptiness is non-being and it is non-cognizable. The world of atoms is cognizable by intellect.

Plato considered being infinite and stable, cognizable by intellect, non-available for sense perception. Being is multiple. Everything having parts is changeable ant equal to itself and, thus doesn’t exist. Something that has parts can only exist. Real being is ideas. They are essence. Intangible super sensual ideas make up essence of the world which is given to us in experience.

Aristotle believed being to be stable, unchangeable, unmoving. Being is individuals. Every expression in a language belongs to being, but the category of essence is closer to being. All other categories like quality, quantity, etc. are relative to being through the category of essence.

^ 3. Elias school opposed knowledge to viewpoints, i.e. everyday ideas and the world of senses to really existing one (the world of knowledge). Multitude of things and phenomena is available for sense perception. Thinking is the ability to cognize entity.

Socrates considered philosophy as love for knowledge and knowledge itself is goodness. His basic principle was “Study yourself”. Lack of knowledge is a sin. The task of philosophy is a creation of ethical knowledge, which separates evil and goodness.

Plato considered cognition to be a form of recollection, reactivation of something hidden within our soul. Senses give non-perfect knowledge, our intellect reveals true and perfect knowledge. The stages of cognition are science and opinion.

4. Sophites were critical about unconsciousnessly obtained statements. They promoted the art of the word. “Person is a measure of everything”. Something that makes people feel happy is good, something that makes them feel sad is bad. Every people’s community (state) is a measure of justice and injustice.

Socrates believed a man to be its soul. Immoral act is a result of being unaware of the truth and a mistake. Philosophy is the way to knowledge. It’s a way of a virtuous person formation and, consequently, a state formation.

Plato considered a soul to be inseparable and solid. Body is separable, consisting of parts. The essence of a soul is in its self-motion. He believed in soul transformation. He divided people into 3 groups according to a part of the soul: rational, affective, desiring.

Just and perfect state is the greatest thing existing on Earth. Any person lives for the sake of the state.

Aristotle believed the highest aim of the state is in achieving virtuous life. A person is a social beast, which is given intellect. A person, according to his nature, must live in a community. Thus, he can develop morally. A good state includes good lows and their observance. People are not equal, according to nature.

5. Xenon developed a range of paradoxical statements – aporias (from Greek – logical difficulties). With the help of these statements he wanted to prove that being is integral and motionless; plurality and motion are contradictory, that’s why they are not the essence of being. The first aporia shows the impossibility to think while moving. The second one shows the actuality of elements infinity of a constant unit. The third one shows the absence of motion, i.e. the moving body is in the condition of rest. Motion is understood as the sum of conditions of rest, it means that there is no motion at all. These aporias played an important role in the development of antique dialectics and antique logics and mathematics.

Lecture 3

The Medieval and Renaissance philosophy
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