General studies Notes

General Description

Source: Zenjishoppazz

Release date: 2023-01-17

Duty Station: TANZANIA
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The word, philosophy is delivered from a Greek language, filosofia (philosophia), which is a union of two words, filia (philia, that is, love) and Sofia (Sophia, that is, wisdom). 

Thus, philosophy is love of wisdom. If one love something, he or she searches for it. Similarly, love of wisdom means searching for wisdom. 

  • Specifically, philosophy is the study of science of truth or principles underlying all knowledge and being or reality.
  • It also means a system of doctrine such as Ujamaa philosophy, the Idealist philosophy, and so on.
  • It can mean a study of principles of a particular branch or subject of knowledge, for example, Philosophy of History.

In summary, philosophy can be defined as man’s knowledgeable and critical activity of which he desires to understand and explain things as he experiences them as well as they are in themselves. Thus, through philosophy, man is eager to follow truth.


There are many ways of branching philosophy, as they are listed down:

  1. Metaphysics
  2. Ethics
  3. Logic
  4. Epistemology
  5. Aesthetics


  1. Metaphysics.

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy which studies the whole of reality, seeking for its ultimate causes in an absolute sense. The study of metaphysics tries to solve the following questions.

  • What is real?
  • What is the distinction between reality and appearance?
  • What are the most general principles and concepts by which our experiences can be interpreted, as well as understood?
  1. Ethics:

The term ethics has its roots connected with a Greek term ethos, meaning custom or conduct. 

It is equivalent in meaning to moral philosophy which is similarly connected with some Latin term mores, customs and behavior.

ethics discusses problems such as: -

  • What makes right actions, right and wrong actions, wrong?
  • What is good and what is bad?
  • What are proper values of life?
  • The question of moral values lies outside the domain of science. Scientific investigation can tell us how people behave under a given condition (psychology). 
  • for instance, no scientifically observable facts, which will settle the question whether or not armed robbers ought to be put to death.
  • In questions about what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, we are concerned with making value judgments. 
  • Value judgments are expressions of attitudes or wishes of those making them. They are essentially private and not public. 

Moral Values:


Sources of moral values.

Family, society, schools (education), mass media, religion, one self, and Government.

indicators of moral values erosion such as: use of drugs, rape, corruption, prostitution and following bad groups

indicators of good moral values such as:

  1. proper dressing style, 
  2. proper language use, 
  3. greeting others, 
  4. having a positive relation with others,
  5. helping others with problems and 
  6. avoidance of violation of human rights,



  1. Aesthetics:
  2. Logic:
  3. Epistemology (Criteriology)

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy, which deals with creation and principles of art as well as beauty. It also studies our thoughts, feelings and attitudes when we see, hear or read about something beautiful. 

Logic is a branch of philosophy, which deals with the study of the principles and methods of reasoning. Logic distinguishes between good (sound) and bad (unsound) reasoning.



Epistemology is the branch of metaphysics dedicated to the study of nature, basis and amount of knowledge. Its explorers the various ways of knowing, the nature of truth and the relationship between knowledge and belief. 

Epistemology tries to solve the following questions

  • What is truth?
  • How can we know what is true from false?
  • Are there different kinds of knowledge with different grounds and characteristics?
  • What is knowledge? Is it in the book? Is it in the person?
  • What does “to know” mean? 


Criteria for truth:

Philosophers have attempted to define criteria for distinguishing between truth and error. But they disagree about what truth means and how to arrive at true ideas.

Examples include the following:

  • Communication theory: holds that an idea is true if its correspondences to facts of reality.
  • Pragmatic theory: maintains that an idea is true if it works or settles problems it deals with.
  • Skepticism theory: claims that knowledge is impossible to attain and that truth is unknowable.

Sources of knowledge:

  1. Intuitive knowledgeThis is the first knowledge. It is obtained through observation. It is the most basic and most stable knowledge, which we get without being taught. 
  2. Empirical knowledge: This is sense knowledge. It is obtained through use of our senses. It is the foundation of so many forms of knowledge that human beings obtain. It is learnt by seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. 
  3. Scientific knowledge/pragmatism: This knowledge is obtained through observations, experience pilot and error as well as intellectual. It is the mixture of reasoning and experience.
  4. Authoritative knowledge: This is the knowledge we get from people with authority in their respective fields. For example, political leaders, religious leaders, institutional authorities, elders in societies, teachers and so on. 
  5. Revealed knowledge: This is divine knowledge given to human beings through revelation. Religious knowledge has its authority based on this. 


The importance of studying Philosophy:

  1. Develop critical and sharp thinking ability on matters about what exists.
  2. Develop the correct norms of conduct.
  3. Gain knowledge and truth about what happens in the society. 
  4. Control emotion and make sound judgment. 
  5. Promote ability to distinguish between beauty and ugliness. 
  6. Is a foundation for religious teachings.
  7. Encourage love of work and be responsible to what one is doing in the society. 
  8. Promote tolerance among people in the society. 
  9. Improvement in the social services provision and develop logical thoughts which produce findings or procedures which are scientifically proved. 



1.    Socrates (469 – 399 B.C)

       Socrates was a Greek philosopher born in Athens, who greatly affected Western philosophy through his influence on Plato. 

       He believed that vice is the result of ignorance and that no person is willingly bad. Similarly, virtue is knowledge, and those who know the right, act rightly.

Standpoint of Socrates:

  • No man willingly does evil. According to Socrates, evil and wrong actions arise from ignorance and the failure to investigate why people act the way they do. 
  • Human nature leads people to act correctly and in agreement with knowledge.
  • He differed from other people only in knowing that he was ignorant. His insistence on his ignorance reminded others of their own ignorance. 

End of Socrates:

Socrates was regarded to disliked his attitude toward the Athenian state and the established religion. He was charged in 399 BC with neglecting the gods of the State and introducing new divinities. 

He was condemned to die, although only a small majority voted for his death. Socrates friends planned for secreted escape from prison, but he preferred to fulfil with the law and die for his reason. He spent his last day with his friends and fans, and in the evening, he fulfilled his death sentence by drinking a cup of hemlock.

2.    Plato: (427 – 347 BC)

Plato was a student of the famous Greek Philosopher, Socrates. Among other things, which affected Plato’s philosophy, was the character of his teacher, Socrates. The Plato’s ideas were based on idea of the state, on economy, education, democracy and forms of leadership. 


In general terms Plato believes:

  • In dialectical method (dialogue). Plato’s involved discussing philosophical problems while the two sides are giving opposing arguments for the sake of arriving at a conclusion.
  • That all people desire happiness. Although sometimes people act in a way which do not produce happiness, they do this because they don’t know what actions will produce happiness.
  • That happiness is a natural consequence of a healthy state of the soul. So, all people should desire virtues. Sometimes people do not seek to be righteous because they do not realize that virtuous produce happiness.
  • That the basic problem of ethics is a problem of knowledge. If a person knows that moral virtue leads to happiness, he/she naturally acts honestly.
  • That it is worse to commit an injustice which can cause someone to suffer, because immoral behavior is a symptom of a diseased soul.
  • That it is worse for a person who commits an injustice to go unpunished than to be punished, because punishment helps cure this most serious of all diseases
  • That the real nature of any individual thing depends on the form in which shows itself. For instance, a certain object is a triangle because it appears in a form of triangularity. 
  • Plato also believed that, if a state has a competent ruler, there would be no need for men to be governed by law. He believed that the state governed by law is always a sign of weakness of men. 


How Plato’s ideas influenced the social economic development

the extent in which Plato’s ideas have influenced the socioeconomic development of Tanzania can be assessed under the following.

  1. In education system. Education in Tanzania combine the platonic idea of education. The learning is organized hierarchically and its centralized in terms of curriculum like done by NECTA (National examination Council of Tanzania)
  2. Leadership style. Political leaders’ noble lies where necessary for the sake of state security.
  3. Leadership code of ethics. This require public leaders not to use public office for private gains, they’re for, leader should not be heads of public enterprises of which they own a share.
  4. Level of education for one to be a president. Although the constitution not mention a highly education for presidency, but the aspect of education is giving among citizens when electing leaders.
  5. Importance of ruling according to law in a state. Plato’s philosophy emphasizes leaders to be guardians of law, example in Tanzanian there is an independent judiciary who stand for the law.

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