Hey prof what if we find out halfway into the mod that Philo doesn’t really work for us?

shouldve taken something else to clear my humanities basket sry

If the module isn’t working out for you, it’s not too late to drop. This is serious advice here–I always tell students to please read modules that you are interested in whenever given the chance.

I really dont want to flop this mod, please show me the way

Is there a high bell curve for this module?

How to study GET1029? I’m worried I don’t study in the wrong way.

how do we keep up with the module? esp students from a vastly different faculty

do you have any tips if we are looking to take philosophy as a second major?

What is the best mindset to have when approaching this module?

How well-versed in philosophical jargon do we need to be to properly experience this module?

The curve for this module is… very classical. Mostly because of large numbers. By the way, in case you are under some misinformation–the NUS curve is actually relatively forgiving. No one needs to fail, for instance. Also, if there’s good reason to deviate, we will just have to deviate and justify. I also take it a matter of doctrine to design modules that–in principle–everyone enrolled can pass. That is, I see it as my job to give you the sort of structured learning experience that, as long as you are willing to do the work, you will be able to learn and pass! So how to keep up? Take the intended workflow mentioned in W01 seriously and be consistent. Work together with tutorial small group mates and other peers–test each other’s understanding. Don’t be shy to reach out to your tutors or I to seek clarifications where needed. All this applies whether you are intended to take Philosophy as your first major, second major, minor, or just reading this module.

Philosophy isn’t meant to be “easy”. But if you are sufficiently interested and willing to work, we are also here to support your learning–so rest assured. And guess what, you can even watch the Webinars and recordings from the comfort of home. One thing though–it’s generally a good idea not to go into a module thinking mainly about grades. Grades are important. But sometimes, thinking too much about them makes one less able to properly immerse oneself in the subject, enjoy the learning and… get good grades. This last point is closely related to (though not exactly the same as) what some philosophers called the “paradox of egoism”.

The best mindset is really a mindset of curiosity and interest, and an understanding that thinking takes discipline. Do this module if the topics intrigue you–not necessarily at a professional or prosumer level, but at least they sound interesting–and you would like a taste of what it is like to tackle thinking hard about them in a more structured, more disciplined way. But this does mean that going into this module, you are ready to do the exercises and learn the habits of mind that make that kind of hard thinking possible. This includes knowing from the onset that our pre-existing habits might not all be sufficiently disciplined. I’m not talking about the opinions, by the way–as far as the module is concerned, we aren’t here to insist that one conclusion or other is right. You might work on Topic 3 and come out thinking that it’s morally wrong to eat factory farmed meat. Or you might think the opposite–that it’s morally ok. What we want to do is to help you become someone who have given the matter careful thought, whichever way you go!

As mentioned in the Webinar during QA time, if you need to learn and specific terminology, we will teach you. We are not assuming that anyone is coming to the module with any background at all–just a curiosity and willingness to work. More generally, while it is true that once you get into a subject to study, you will learn it’s technical terms, this module strives to be relatively light on such terms. It’s much more important to me that you master the ideas and be able to apply them–you notice distinctions and not jump from one thought to another too quickly.

i still dont understand what’s philosophy

Philosophy is look for a black cat in a dark room.

Maybe that’s why it’s often said there are no 100% correct answers in philosophy

Are there philosophical issues that have been solved?

What is the relationship between psychology and philosophy?

What do philosophers believe about the truth of the world?

Think of it as–the study of hard questions about life, the universe, and everything, using reason. Historically, it was the progenitor of the special sciences, all of which you might say are the spin-offs–very successful spin offs at that. Once an area of study becomes sufficiently developed so that regularized research methods can be talked about, it becomes its own discipline–hence the rise of physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and so on, and so forth, from what used to be just “natural philosophy”, or just “philosophy”. Conversely, the subjects that get left behind in philosophy today are the ones that remain resistant to the formation of regularized research methods where we can just take data and churn out results. I’m simplifying, of course, since in the various special sciences, there are cutting edge issues that aren’t settled by the regular methods–but that’s also why the very cutting edge of a special science is also where it gets most philosophical.

Conversely, modern philosophers are also becoming more and more engaged with the results of the special sciences where they become related to their own subject of study. So modern philosophers of mind will typically be familiar with the work of modern psychology, the philosopher of physics will often tend to be physics trained, the line between a philosopher of mathematics and a philosophical mathematician is a vanishingly thin one, and the modern political philosopher is increasingly taking on board the methods and insights from the social sciences, and so on. Partly because of its history and origin as the progenitor of the other special sciences, philosophy is also the original and remains the most interdisciplinary discipline. After all, we have the least tuft to protect when it comes to “regularized methods that churn out results”.

As a corollary to the above, philosophers are also much less ‘united’ when it comes to our opinions–about the truth of the world. Yes, on many issues, there are major positions that are dominant (you can see a report based on a large scale survey of philosophers done in 2013 here). but if it’s an issue that’s still of interest to philosophers, then even the ones who are in the dominant position understands full well that–at some level–it’s a debatable issue with sincere and smart people on both sides of the issue. This doesn’t mean that the we don’t hold to what we believe strongly–like everyone else, we can also be very opinionated people.

With the above background in mind, can you also infer that there will be much less to talk about as far as “solved issues” go in philosophy–the issues that were solved had all been spun off. Once they become actually solved, philosophers lose interest. This isn’t the same as saying that there is no “correct answer” to the remaining issues though–all it means is that they remain excitingly unsolved! I have a longer post about this idea of there not being any correct answers in philosophy.

But all said and done, it’s usually easier to get to understand what’s philosophy by doing a bit of it, rather than hearing about it.

how do you determine when a discussion digresses when one topic opens up to many different topics?

is philosophy very focused on semantics?

There’s no straightforward way to tell. And a lot depends on context–there’s nothing wrong with digressions when there’s no urgency. And some digressions are rhetorical devices–they aren’t true digressions at all. The point, however, is that many things are connected to many things else so much so that if you want to have a disciplined opinion about one thing, it’s likely that you need to assume many other connected things. But I’ll have to say more about this subject at a later date.

Kinda yes and no. Modern philosophy puts a big premium of clear thinking. Presumably, the expression of clear thinking requires clear language. Which means that being careful with words–noticing that one is saying this rather than that–is part of the business. But for the most part, the interest is in what the words are about, not the words themselves. For me, it’s much more important for you to realize that when talking about how Ahmed is morally responsible for doing X (he deserves certain reactions and treatments, or judgment, from the rest of us given X’s moral status),  we aren’t also talking about how Y is within his responsibility (he has a duty to do something about Y, “Ahmed is responsible for feeding the cat”)–in other words, we notice that there’s something different going on here. And we strive to make clear those differences in our words where needed.

Rather than say that philosophy is very focused on semantics–as if it is mainly about the language–the idea is that philosophy is very sticky about not seeing differences where there aren’t any, and not failing to see differences  where there are! What the untrained mind squishes together (and it shows in the words) we try really hard to make sure we keep them distinct in our thinking (and hence words).

will philosophy make you invincible in debates?

can philosophy hone my skills to win arguments with my boyfriend?

Feels like GP

is philosophy gonna destroy my faith ahhaha

Will philosophy end up changing our MBTI types

Please do google for “love is a fallacy” by Max Shulman. It’s a fantastic read. I see many student productions of the short story/play (the trailers anyway) on youtube as well. See if you can find a copy of the short story–it’s a fantastic read, and teaches you some basic stuff about informal fallacies too. Philosophy as an academic discipline and General Paper–let’s put it this way: GP (and Social Studies too), being GP, is about general interest issues that overlaps with those of concern to philosophy–and sociology, and psychology, and everything else. But you are now in much deeper waters. And you are going to need a much more disciplined level of engagement.

Will studying philosophy change you–whether with respect to personality or faith? It’s really, really hard to say. Many people come out of the encounter with similar main beliefs as before. Many others came out with having changed their minds too. By the way, I’m not one of those who think that we should always subject every one of our beliefs and existing commitments to critical scrutiny, all the time. That’s not how life is lived. But whatever the case, I hope the encounter will make you more willing and able to think through your beliefs more carefully. I doubt, however, that any intellectual study will change your personality type–that doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that can happen just because we studied something. But who knows.

Are philosophers over-thinkers?

so having big brain energy makes us philosophers o.o

What do philosophers do on a daily basis as their job? Like not everyone become tutors or lecturers

Some philosophers are certainly over-thinkers. And from the point of view of people who aren’t as careful about thinking, all careful thinking people–from whatever discipline–are going to look like over-thinkers. And likewise, you simply don’t get to do any serious intellectual discipline (at the University level, shall we say) without having “big brain energy”–it doesn’t matter whether it’s philosophy or psychology or physics. If you are here in NUS, you are here to get a University Education. Welcome to the deeper part of the pool!

You mean graduates with a philosophy degree? Most of our graduates don’t become academics or teachers. One does not simply walk into becoming a lecturer in a university. I can say a lot more about it but you would be better served reading this book, which, by the way, is applicable for most of the subjects offered in the university, but especially in the humanities and social sciences, and the theoretical natural and mathematical sciences (i.e., all the not obviously applied stuff). Some do become teachers in the schools–because teaching is their passion.

The overall employment spread of the NUS philosophy graduates is not too different from the FASS overall–public sector 30-40%, private sector 50-60%, a sprinkling of entrepreneurs, and volunteer sector types, etc. This isn’t surprising–people who are well trained in philosophy are, hopefully, sharp in their thinking, and able to process information in a careful and sophisticated way. That’s a general skill that is needed across many jobs that require you to think, speak and write, especially if you are able to pair your thinking skills with specific domain knowledge pertaining to your work place or industry.

The department’s recent alumni include an investment banker (he’s a Philosophy-Economics double major), a strategic planner for a government ministry, a policy manager for a stat board, a start-up founder and tech investor, a talent acquisition manager for life sciences research, a compliance manager in a bank, management consultants, school teachers, researchers, people pursuing their PhDs, and so on, and so forth. There are also a handful of film makers–including one who recently won a Golden Horse. Slightly further back, if you have ever eaten at Thai Express, well, the founders are two NUS philosophy grads married to each other (my juniors by two years, I think). There are many others too. The ones I know personally often tell me that they are able to do what they do well–and so add value to their organizations and co-workers–partly because of their philosophy training, even though most of them aren’t teaching or researching philosophy.