I asked the stage 1 students in my critical thinking tutorials, as a way of introducing themselves, to either say what they think philosophy is, or to name the most philosophical book or movie they’ve read/seen.
“Philosophy is thinking about stuff that doesn’t really have an answer” was a fairly common line of thought from the few people who chose to answer that question. I wonder what contributed to that idea; I assume postmodernism, but perhaps in some of the cases it was something like scientism. For the second question, I got quite a few confused faces, but also a fair few answers across my four tutorial streams.
Something that might make me cry is that in one stream, two people said “The God Delusion”, and another said “The Grand Design”, and all seemed to be fans of these books. The God Delusion is a bad attempt at philosophy which could get nowhere near an academic press, and The Grand Design asserts, as far as I’m aware, that “philosophy is dead”. I hope by the end of the course, these students’ critical thinking skills have improved enough to be able to be more skeptical of such crap. (As tempting as it was, I didn’t say anything to that effect in class.)