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Reading Notes

Reading philosophical essays is more challenging in that you often have to scan once, read once, and review once before you can adequately explain the author's position. In order to be sure that you are receiving maximum benefit from your time spent studying, try to answer the guide questions posed below. If you cannot answer them, it is time to read or review to be sure you understand the main arguments presented. See more tips here.

Betrand Russell: Philosophy for Laymen

For this week I chose Russell's essay entitled "Philosophy for Laymen." I like the article because it provides a practical introduction to philosophy as well as a concrete consideration of the relation between the subject matter of philosophy and real life.

  1. Resources
  2. Guide Questions
  3. Smartboard Notes

Here are some web sites that will enhance your understanding of this week's reading:

Betrand Russell:

Guide Questions:

The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. The subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.

Objectives for this week: To understand why it is desirable and necessary to have an education in philosophy. After reading this essay, you should have some sense of why Russell believes the study of philosophy is valuable for everyone, not just professional philosophers.

  1. distinguish absolutist and relativist approaches to philosophy
  2. identify the difference between dogmatism and skepticism
  3. list the three major directives for leading a philosophical life
  4. describe Russell's take on intellectual virtues
  5. explain in general why Russell believes philosophy is valuable for everyone

Philosophy for Laymen

Guide Questions:

  1. Russell claims that academic philosophy has lost touch with the public.(2) How does he suggest philosophy be integrated with academic education at all levels?
  2. What are the two aims/objects of philosophy?
  3. How does philosophical reasoning differ from general science inquiry and what is the utility of theoretical philosophy according to Russell?
  4. Describe the dangers of dogmatism that Russell lists as threats to a spirit of inquiry and peace.
  5. Why is skepticism useless?
  6. How should one act when operating from an uncertain hypothesis? What are the implications for acts that may cause harm?
  7. Russell lists three major directives for someone who is trying to lead a philosophical life. What are they?
  8. How would ethical teachings differ for modern times?
  9. What are the intellectual virtues and why are they important?
  10. What is the value of philosophy for laymen?




Smartboard Notes

Smartboard Notes from Week 1 Lecture:



russell notes


russell notes 2




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