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«Unit One Section A: THE SEARCH FOR MEANING AND VALUES Part one: THE QUEST FOR MEANING TOPIC 1.2 THE TRADITION OF SEARCH Procedure The nature and ...»

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Leaving Certificate Religious Education Support Service - Sample Lesson Plan for teaching elements of the syllabus

Unit One Section A: THE SEARCH FOR MEANING AND VALUES

Part one: THE QUEST FOR MEANING

TOPIC 1.2 THE TRADITION OF SEARCH

Procedure

The nature and purpose of philosophy

Assignment: Finish the sentence Philosophy is ………………………………

Or Read Sophie’s World - Gaarder, J. (1995) London: Phoenix House on Socrates pages 11-14

Or Brainstorm: What is Philosophy?

Take feedback from students and conclude that the nature and purpose of philosophy is to reflect/search for

wisdom on key questions about the meaning of life – illustrate by displaying the following poster/overhead:

Philosophy = Love of wisdom (Greek) Brainstorm: Why should we care about wisdom?

Take feedback from students and explain that Aristotle said in answer to this question - displaying the

following poster/overhead:

“From the beginning, wonder has made men philosophise and it still does.” – Aristotle “The wise man is to the ignorant as the living is to the dead.” – Aristotle The role of philosophy is to inquire into the nature of the universe, to seek to uncover the laws that govern the world and to seek answers to the foundational questions that define human existence. Philosophy is thus all embracing in its scope and this is reflected in the classical divisions into which it has traditionally been divided.

i.e. Present students with the following words:

LOGIC ETHICS

Brainstorm: Which of these words have you heard of before?

What is the meaning of these words?

Take feedback from students and confirm the meaning of words which they may be familiar with from Junior Certificate e.g. ethic Or Word wall assignment: Distribute the following cards and give students time to match the meaning to the words.

Study of reasoning Study of moral behaviour e.g. e.g.

What is rational? Is there such a thing as the good life?

Etc. If so, what is it?

How can we know it?

Etc.

Take feedback from students and confirm the meaning of words as follows:

LOGIC ETHICS

Study of reasoning

–  –  –

Brainstorm: What is the purpose of philosophy?

Take feedback from students and conclude that the purpose of philosophy is to reflect on the key questions that human being ask in their search for meaning in life. E.g. Questions about – Leaving Certificate Religious Education Support Service - Sample Lesson Plan for teaching elements of the syllabus

• Reasoning e.g. What is rational? Etc.

• Moral behaviour e.g. Is there such a thing as the good life? If so, what is it? How can we know it? Etc.

• Existence and the existence of the universe e.g. What does it mean to be? To exist? To be real? Etc.

• Knowledge e.g. How do we know? What are the limits of human knowledge? Etc.

• Human nature e.g. What it is to be a human being? Are human beings free? Etc.

As human being we strive to understand the world and ourselves, so as to make our lives deeper, more meaningful. Each philosopher is grappling with issues that are part of universal human experience. People have always wondered about the nature of the universe and the place of human beings in it.

The history of philosophy is the record of human beings search for wisdom as the foundational questions of meaning and value are re-shaped by each successive generation and culture. In ancient societies each culture had its own myths which “explained” how things cam to be as they were. In fifth and sixth century BCE Greece philosophers like Thales, Anaximenes, Hereclitus and Parmenides challenged the mythical understanding of the world and developed a rational understanding of reality. Thales, Anaximenes, Hereclitus were concerned with the origin of things. They believe that there was coherence to reality – the cosmos was ordered and reality is accessible to reason. Their philosophical speculations were based on the belief in a law governed universe rather than one that is lawless, random and irrational. Although these philosophers differed in their understanding of the origins of thinks, as seen below, their ideas marked a breakthrough from the world of mythic culture to one that is founded on the power of logic. Philosophers such as these had the idea that the universe is ordered and that this order is accessible to human reason. They recognized that the intelligibility of the cosmos is dependent on our ability to structure it in terms of cause and effect, and systematically explored the universe in terms of these categories.

• Thales believed that everything originated from water.

• Anaximenes believed that everything originated from air.

• Hereclitus believed that everything originated from fire.

Parmenides and Hereclitus were particularly interested in understanding change and permanence, how things can change and yet remain themselves. It is hard for us today to be aware of the enormity of the breakthrough initiated by these earliest philosophers - the belief that every experience can be investigated precisely because it can be understood as an effect. This provides the possibility of all scientific enterprise. Science of every kind is dedicated to explaining the reason for experiences through the process of uncovering the existence of a cause or causes of these experiences.





The thinking of Socrates on the moral good, the purpose of life and the importance of essences Introduce Socrates by reading Student Work: Who am I? Match the names with the people described: Socrates is … Take feedback from students and confirm their understanding of the life of Socrates.

Explain that Socrates engaged in a series of dialogues with people who believed they fully understood the issues under discussion. Socrates would take the role of a questioner and through asking a series of questions he would show the people how much they did not know. The aim of these philosophical dialogues was to discover the truth about how a person should live a good and moral life e.g. Plato’s dialogue Gorgias Read Student Work: SOCRATES’ THINKING ON THE MORAL GOOD & THE PURPOSE OF LIFE In five voices: Narrator, Socrates, Gorgias, Polus and Callicles.

What does Plato’s dialogue show about Socrates’ idea of the purpose of life?

Discuss:

What does Plato’s dialogue show about Socrates’ thinking on the moral good?

How are the questions Socrates raised, similar to those people ask today?

Take feedback and conclude that for Socrates the moral good and the purpose of life is not just to live, but to live well, to live in accordance with reason. “The really important thing is not to live but to live well”(48bCrito). Living well is to live honourably or rightly.

Socrates believed human beings have a duty to explore the truth regarding right and wrong, justice and injustice, courage and cowardice. He worked to find laws and limits that could be observed in order to lead a good life. He believed that once you found these laws they would hold true for all people at all times and in all situations. From this perspective, to live a good life is to live an ordered live, one that is marked by moderation.

Socrates was convinced that we should not just live according to appetite, pleasure, appearance: we have reason, a rational capacity, one that allows us to define the nature of concepts such as truth, goodness and justice. It is this rational capacity to see the essence of things which Socrates believed should set the standards Leaving Certificate Religious Education Support Service - Sample Lesson Plan for teaching elements of the syllabus for people rather than an over-reliance on appearance. For Socrates the moral good is not only objective but is both capable of rational discernment and universally binding.

Or Read relevant extracts from one of the following:

• Sophie’s World - Gaarder, J. (1995) London: Phoenix House on Socrates page 49

• Introducing Philosophy (1999) Icon Books UK (Cartoon Story)

• Junior Certificate Classical Studies – www.education.ie jc_classic_yr1_guide.pdf & jc_classic_yr23_guide(2).(pdf)

• Delius, C. ed. (2000) The Story of Philosophy: From Antiquity to the Present Cologne: Konemann page 9 Discuss: What is Socrates’ idea of the purpose of life?

What is Socrates’ thinking on the moral good?

What is Socrates’ thinking on the importance of essences?

Take feedback and for higher-level students conclude with reference to the following points:

Socrates believed that if a person knew the right thing, then he or she would do it. No one does wrong willingly.

He was deeply concerned with the difference between opinion (what I think is right) and truth (what I know is correct). Opinion changes, truth is fixed. Socrates' great insight was that knowledge is truth.

Read Student Work: Socrates & the Sophists Socrates in opposition to the Sophists, argued for the objectivity of values such as justice, goodness and truth.

He believed passionately that the human person is both capable of recognizing the true nature of these values and is obliged to hold fast to them. The alternative as he saw it is a type of moral anarchy that enshrines the

power principle that only the fittest survive. Against the Sophists, Socrates argues that:

1. It is better to suffer evil than to inflict evil,

2. Justice cannot be regarded as the set of rules laid down by the strong on the principle that might is right

3. We are obliged to seek the truth rather than simply to persuade others that our views are true

4. The good life is not identical with pleasure Assessment Questions

1. Write a summary of two of the main ideas of Socrates and explain why each idea was important in the development of philosophy.

2. Imagine that Socrates was alive today and came to speak to your class –Write out the speech that he would make. Include any key issues today that you think he might talk about.

The thinking of Plato on the importance of ideas, on the nature of reality and on the duality of human nature Review Student Work: Who am I?

Match the following names with the people described: Plato = __ Take feedback from students and confirm their understanding of the life of Plato.

Introduce Plato by explaining that his contribution is crucial in refining the Socratic belief in the objectivity of concepts such as truth, goodness, justice, etc.

Give students time to study photograph on Student Work: REALITY AND APPEARANCE - snow / old & young woman / vase.

Finish the sentence: What is this a photograph of _______________________________________________________

Take feedback from students and note responses on the chalkboard.

Discuss: Have people seen different things in this photograph?

Take feedback from students referring to concrete examples such as the photograph of the vase could appear to be two faces; the old woman could appear to be a young woman; the snow could appear to be the face of Christ.

Is there a difference between reality and appearance?

Discuss:

Or Read the poem Field of Vision by Seamus Heaney and discuss the questions What appears to lie within the woman’s field of vision?

In the third verse why does the poet praise the woman?

What does this show really lies within the woman’s field of vision?

Or Read the poem Canal Bank Walk – Kavanagh and discuss the question Leaving Certificate Religious Education Support Service - Sample Lesson Plan for teaching elements of the syllabus In this poem and others Kavanagh expresses his belief that this world reflects a heavenly, divine one.

Which details best capture that belief in your opinion?

Take feedback from students and explain that Plato believed that the world was divided into reality and appearance - knowledge (truth) and opinion. We seek knowledge or truth but opinion is usually all that we have, though it may pass for knowledge. This is because people focus on the visible world - the world of the senses, rather than on an intangible world - a world beyond the senses, a world of true knowledge. Thus, for example, a person may be concerned with beautiful things - things that he or she considers beautiful. But this is a matter of opinion. Someone else may not consider these things beautiful. The person who is concerned with the higher world, the world of true knowledge, is concerned with beauty itself. There are particular instances of beauty in the physical world, in the world of the senses, but they all share in what Plato called the universal form of beauty. Plato believed that the universal or the form / idea is that which really exists. The individual or the particular is merely a copy of the form / idea, existing only to the extent that it participates in the form / idea. Concepts such as beauty, truth, goodness, justice, etc really exist. They are universals that are eternal, objective, immutable, spiritual and real.

The early Greek philosophers such as Thales, Anaximenes, Hereclitus etc. believed that the universe is ordered and that this order is accessible to the human reason. For Plato that intelligible context is provided by his theory of form / idea that gives prominence to the idea of the ‘Good’. In Plato’s dialogue the Republic, the ‘Good’ is proposed as the origin of existence and the goal for which all beings strive.

Read relevant extracts from one of the following:

• Sophie’s World - Gaarder,. J. (1995) London: Phoenix House on Plato page 67

• Introducing Plato – D. Robinson & J. Groves Icon Bks UK (Cartoon Story)

• Plato for Beginners – A Writers and Readers Documentary Comic Book (ISBN 0863160395)

• The Story of Philosophy: From Antiquity to the Present Delius, C. ed. (2000) Cologne: Konemann pages 9 Junior Certificate Classical Studies – www.education.ie jc_classic_yr1_guide.pdf

• Read Student Work: Plato Discuss: What is Plato’s thinking on the duality of human nature?

What is Plato’s thinking on the nature of reality?



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