Waubonsee Philosophy Professor Examines Value of 'Why?'

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 27, 2018 | Go to article overview

Waubonsee Philosophy Professor Examines Value of 'Why?'


Byline: Steve Zusman Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Waubonsee Community College

Curiosity and the love of learning know no bounds. Whether it is an adult learner taking a class at Waubonsee or a young child learning about the solar system, we humans desire knowledge.

In his quest for knowledge, my 3-year-old son loves to sing the alphabet song with me. As I recite with him each letter, I always pause slightly when I reach the letter Y. It reminds me of perhaps the most important question people can ask, and one that my children ask more than any other. "Why?"

The philosopher Socrates famously stated more than 2,000 years ago that "the unexamined life is not worth living," and it matters not whether you are 3, 33, or 93, the question "Why?" still motivates us today in the same way it did Socrates so many years ago.

It is with this question, "Why?" as our guide that philosophers like me both question and explore the world in search of knowledge and truth.

Philosophy generally is concerned with helping to formulate intelligible answers to some of life's biggest questions. The history of philosophy has primarily attempted to answer those questions using logic and reasoned argumentation.

As a philosophy instructor at Waubonsee, I travel a path alongside my students, guided by some of the greatest minds the world has ever known, such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, and Sartre. We explore these questions in great depth, and I try to help my students formulate their own answers to these questions.

The foundation for philosophy is set up in both our "Introduction to Logic" and "Introduction to Critical Thinking" courses, where we learn what constitutes a good argument and how to recognize common bad arguments (for instance, "Why are some arguments persuasive, whereas other arguments are not?").

In "Philosophy of Art," we explore questions of art and beauty (such as "Why is art important? …

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