A Woman, Thinking

The Seductiveness of Morality

Words on WordsPoppy Lochridge6 Comments

Portrait of Socrates. Marble, Roman artwork (1... Week 1, Coursera "Introduction to Philosophy" class. The one thing I really, truly notice from the first week's lectures and discussion is the conflict between universal and relative.

In the first lecture, Dr. Ward provided his working definition of philosophy:

the activity of working out the right way of thinking about things

Almost immediately, the forums and study groups began buzzing. The RIGHT way of thinking about things? How dare he say there's a right way! How arrogant! What does he mean, right way? OF COURSE he means that each of us has a right way, everyone knows that there is no universal right way. C'mon, you're not supposed to take the word literally, just insert your own word of preference that means the same thing - efficient, appropriate, helpful, etc.

Bam. Right away, we land right in the middle of moral philosophy. Is there an absolute, universal RIGHT WAY to think about things, or is it a relative, individual right way for each of us to think?

It's all in the definition of "right". If you read "right" as "proper", you'll likely be offended that anyone would suggest that they know the proper way for you to think. On the other hand, if you read "right" as "efficient", you'd be happy if someone offered to show you the right way to think. How do you read the quote above?