Philosophy (literally meaning “love of wisdom” in Greek) is the study of general and fundamental queries concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.
The term was coined by Pythagoras of Samos (570–495 BCE), an early Greek philosopher known for his founding of the Pythagoreanism movement. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical thinking, rational argument, and systematic presentation of the evidence to back up any and all arguments.
Classic philosophical questions include “is it possible to know anything and to prove it? and “what is most real? Philosophers also devise practical and concrete answers pertaining to questions such as the proper way to live one’s life, the nature and extent of free will, and how to be a moral and virtuous person.
As used originally by the ancient Greeks, the term "philosophy" meant the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and comprised ALL areas of speculative thought, including the arts, sciences and religion.
Philosophical questions (unlike those of the sciences) are usually foundational and abstract in nature. Philosophy is done primarily through reflection and does not tend to rely on experiment, although the methods used to study it may be analogous to those used in the study of the natural sciences.
In common usage, it sometimes carries the sense of unproductive or frivolous musings, but over the centuries it has produced some of the most important original thought, and its contribution to politics, sociology, mathematics, science and literature has been inestimable. Although the study of philosophy may not yield "the meaning of life, the universe and everything", many philosophers believe that it is important that each of us examines such questions and even that an unexamined life is not worth living. It also provides a good way of learning to think more clearly about a wide range of issues, and its methods of analyzing arguments can be useful in a variety of situations in other areas of life.
Philosophy is such a huge subject that it is difficult to know how to break it down into manageable and logical sections. Perhaps the most basic overall split at the highest level is geographical, between Eastern Philosophy and Western Philosophy (with, arguably, African Philosophy as a possible third branch at this level).
At its core the study of metaphysics is the study of the nature of reality, of what exists in the world, what it is like, and how it is ordered. In metaphysics philosophers wrestle with such questions as:
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It is primarily concerned with what we can know about the world and how we can know it. Typical questions of concern in epistemology are:
The study of ethics often concerns what we ought to do and what it would be best to do. In struggling with this issue, larger questions about what is good and right arise. So, the ethicist attempts to answer such questions as:
Another important aspect of the study of philosophy is the arguments or reasons given for peopleâ€™s answers to these questions. To this end philosophers employ logic to study the nature and structure of arguments. Logicians ask such questions as:
The study of philosophy involves not only forming oneâ€™s own answers to such questions, but also seeking to understand the way in which people have answered such questions in the past. So, a significant part of philosophy is its history, a history of answers and arguments about these very questions. In studying the history of philosophy one explores the ideas of such historical figures as:
What often motivates the study of philosophy is not merely the answers or arguments themselves but whether or not the arguments are good and the answers are true. Moreover, many of the questions and issues in the various areas of philosophy overlap and in some cases even converge. Thus, philosophical questions arise in almost every discipline. This is why philosophy also encompasses such areas as:
|Philosophy of Law||Philosophy of Feminism|
|Philosophy of Religion||Philosophy of Science|
|Philosophy of Mind||Philosophy of Literature|
|Political Philosophy||Philosophy of the Arts|
|Philosophy of History||Philosophy of Language|