Philosophy Index

Philosophy

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is the study of fundamental problems and questions in matters of interest or importance to humanity. Fundamental questions of philosophy include those of reality, knowledge and learning, reasoning and values.

The word philosophy comes from Greek, meaning “love of wisdom”, and essentially remains the pursuit of wisdom and truth. Western philosophy began as a tradition of careful examination of the natures of reality and of humankind, and a realization of ignorance in certain areas of thought. Philosophy has spawned a number of other disciplines, most notably science, which began as an area of philosophy.

Branches of Philosophy

There are five traditional areas or branches of philosophy. Logic deals with reasoning—determining the laws of valid thought. Metaphysics is the study of the nature of the universe and the meaning of reality. Ethics is the system of human value based on the concept of "right and wrong". Epistemology is concerned with knowledge, the nature of it, and the process of aquiring it. Aesthetics covers beauty and art, and how these can be properly judged by the mind. In addition, there are a number of topics in philosophy that do not correspond to a single branch.

See branches of philosophy.

Origins of Philosophy

In most cultures, early philosophy is rooted in religion and mythology. Most cultures began with a story that described the metaphysical state of the world, described ethical values and a moral code of conduct.

Western philosophy began as a split from religion, as some ancient Greeks began to reject their mythology in favour of views more closely related to their experience and reason. Of course, most religions offer their own specific brand of philosophy, as well as responses to philosophical questions based on their teachings, and both eastern philosophy and western philosophy have historical and present-day connections to religion in varying degrees.

Philosophy developed over the years with influence from society, culture and religion. Western philosophy is considered to have gone through several major eras: Ancient philosophy began in Greece around 2500 years ago, medieval philosophy came later with the spread of Christianity and the adoption of the Christian version of Aristotle’s teaching. The enlightenment saw a revival of philosophy and the era known as modern philosophy, which leads into contemporary philosophy which is under development today.

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