What does it mean to be human – and other simple questions

'Rodin's Thinker' by  Steven Fettig (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

‘Rodin’s Thinker’ by Steven Fettig (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The third Thursday of November each year is World Philosophy Day. Begun by UNESCO in 2005 to underline the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, World Philosophy Day 2014 falls on Thursday 20 November.

Philosophy as a discipline is concerned with reason and logic in an attempt to understand reality and answer fundamental questions about knowledge, life, morality and human nature. The ancient Greeks, who were among the first to practice philosophy, coined the term, which means “love of wisdom.” These Ancient philosophers established two main types of reasoning to test the validity of their observations and construct rational arguments: inductive and deductive reasoning. Though flawed, both inductive and deductive reasoning provide the basic framework for the kind of logical analysis that drives scientific research and discovery.

Here are some QUT Library resources to start you on your way (journey?) to intellectual philosopher:

Philosophy : a beginner’s guide / Peter Cave. A perfect introduction for aspiring sages everywhere that’s definitely not a dry textbook.

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values / by Robert M. Pirsig. A narrative of a father and son on a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions.

The A to Z of Descartes and Cartesian Philosophy [electronic resource] / Roger Ariew. Descartes lived from 1596 to 1650, and today he is referred to as “the Father of Modern Philosophy.”

Philosophy: A guide to happiness [DVD] In this engaging and informative six part series, popular English philosopher Alain de Botton looks for modern-day applications of the theories and teachings of famous thinkers from various eras, finding practical advice on universal human problems, inadequacies and emotional conditions.

So if you’re up to the task of mulling over a few simple questions – such as what is the meaning and purpose of life? – then Thursday November 20th is the day to begin philosophising.