Philosophy (from , )
is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason
, and language
. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras
(c. 570 – c. 495 BCE). Philosophical methods
, critical discussion
, rational argument
, and systematic presentation.
[Quinton, Anthony. 1995. "The Ethics of Philosophical Practice." P. 666 in ''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', edited by T. Honderich. New York: Oxford University Press. .
"Philosophy is rationally critical thinking, of a more or less systematic kind about the general nature of the world (metaphysics or theory of existence), the justification of belief (epistemology or theory of knowledge), and the conduct of life (ethics or theory of value). Each of the three elements in this list has a non-philosophical counterpart, from which it is distinguished by its explicitly rational and critical way of proceeding and by its systematic nature. Everyone has some general conception of the nature of the world in which they live and of their place in it. Metaphysics replaces the unargued assumptions embodied in such a conception with a rational and organized body of beliefs about the world as a whole. Everyone has occasion to doubt and question beliefs, their own or those of others, with more or less success and without any theory of what they are doing. Epistemology seeks by argument to make explicit the rules of correct belief formation. Everyone governs their conduct by directing it to desired or valued ends. Ethics, or moral philosophy, in its most inclusive sense, seeks to articulate, in rationally systematic form, the rules or principles involved." (p. 666).]
Historically, ''philosophy'' encompassed all bodies of knowledge and a practitioner was known as a ''philosopher
["The English word "philosophy" is first attested to c. 1300, meaning "knowledge, body of knowledge."
Harper, Douglas. 2020.]
." ''Online Etymology Dictionary''. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
From the time of Ancient Greek
to the 19th century, "natural philosophy
" encompassed astronomy
, and physics
. For example, Newton
's 1687 ''Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
'' later became classified as a book of physics.
In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities
led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize
and specialize. Since then, various areas of investigation that were traditionally part of philosophy have become separate academic disciplines, such as psychology
, and economics
Today, major subfields of academic philosophy include metaphysics
, which is concerned with the fundamental nature of existence
, which studies the nature of knowledge
, which is concerned with moral value
; and logic
, which studies the rules of inference
that allow one to derive conclusions
from true premises
. Other notable subfields include philosophy of science
, political philosophy
, philosophy of language
, and philosophy of mind
Origins and evolution
Initially the term referred to any body of knowledge
In this sense, philosophy is closely related to religion, mathematics, natural science, education, and politics. Though it has since been classified as a book of physics, Newton
's ''Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
'' (1687) uses the term ''natural philosophy
'' as it was understood at the time, encompassing disciplines such as astronomy
that later became associated with the sciences
In section thirteen of his ''Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers''
, the oldest surviving history of philosophy (3rd century), Diogenes Laërtius
presents a three-part division of ancient Greek philosophical inquiry:
(i.e. physics, from ) was the study of the constitution and processes of transformation in the physical world.
(i.e. ethics, from ) was the study of goodness, right and wrong, justice and virtue.
(i.e. logic, from ) was the study of existence
, causation, God
, and other abstract objects. ()
In ''Against the Logicians'' the Pyrrhonist
philosopher Sextus Empiricus
detailed the variety of ways in which the ancient Greek philosophers had divided philosophy, noting that this three-part division was agreed to by Plato, Aristotle, Xenocrates, and the Stoics. The Academic Skeptic
also followed this three-part division.
This division is not obsolete, but has changed: ''natural philosophy'' has split into the various natural sciences, especially physics, astronomy
, and cosmology
; ''moral philosophy'' has birthed the social science
s, while still including value theory
(e.g. ethics, aesthetics
, political philosophy
, etc.); and ''metaphysical philosophy'' has given way to formal sciences such as logic, mathematics
and philosophy of science
, while still including epistemology, cosmology, etc.
Many philosophical debates that began in ancient times are still debated today. McGinn
claims that no philosophical progress
has occurred during that interval. Chalmers
, by contrast, sees progress in philosophy similar to that in science, while Brewer argues that "progress" is the wrong standard by which to judge philosophical activity.
In one general sense, philosophy is associated with wisdom
, intellectual culture, and a search for knowledge. In this sense, all cultures and literate societies ask philosophical questions, such as "how are we to live" and "what is the nature of reality." A broad and impartial conception of philosophy, then, finds a reasoned inquiry into such matters as reality
, and life in all world civilizations.
is the philosophical tradition of the Western world
, dating back to pre-Socratic
thinkers who were active in 6th-century Greece
(BCE), such as Thales
( – BCE) and Pythagoras
( – BCE) who practiced a 'love of wisdom' ()
and were also termed 'students of nature' ().
can be divided into three eras:
# Medieval philosophy
(referring to Christian European thought).
# Modern philosophy
(beginning in the 17th century).
While our knowledge of the ancient era begins with Thales
in the 6th century BCE, little is known about the philosophers who came before Socrates
(commonly known as the pre-Socratics
). The ancient era was dominated by Greek philosophical schools
. Most notable among the schools influenced by Socrates' teachings were Plato
, who founded the Platonic Academy
, and his student Aristotle
who founded the Peripatetic school
. Other ancient philosophical traditions influenced by Socrates included Cynicism
, and Academic Skepticism
. Two other traditions were influenced by Socrates' contemporary, Democritus
. Important topics covered by the Greeks included metaphysics
(with competing theories such as atomism
, the nature of the well-lived life (''eudaimonia
''), the possibility of knowledge
, and the nature of reason (logos
). With the rise of the Roman empire
, Greek philosophy was increasingly discussed in Latin
such as Cicero
(see Roman philosophy
(5th–16th centuries) is the period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire
and was dominated by the rise of Christianity
and hence reflects Judeo-Christian
theological concerns as well as retaining a continuity with Greco-Roman thought. Problems such as the existence and nature of God
, the nature of faith
and reason, metaphysics, the problem of evil
were discussed in this period. Some key Medieval thinkers include St. Augustine
, Thomas Aquinas
and Roger Bacon
. Philosophy for these thinkers was viewed as an aid to Theology
() and hence they sought to align their philosophy with their interpretation of sacred scripture. This period saw the development of Scholasticism
, a text critical method developed in medieval universities
based on close reading and disputation on key texts. The Renaissance
period saw increasing focus on classic Greco-Roman thought and on a robust Humanism
Early modern philosophy
in the Western world begins with thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes
and René Descartes
Following the rise of natural science, modern philosophy
was concerned with developing a secular and rational foundation for knowledge and moved away from traditional structures of authority such as religion, scholastic thought and the Church. Major modern philosophers include Spinoza
, and Kant
(sometimes called late modern philosophy
) was influenced by the wider 18th-century movement termed "the Enlightenment
", and includes figures such as Hegel
a key figure in German idealism
who developed the foundations for existentialism
a famed anti-Christian, John Stuart Mill
who promoted utilitarianism
, Karl Marx
who developed the foundations for communism
and the American William James
. The 20th century saw the split between analytic philosophy
and continental philosophy
, as well as philosophical trends such as phenomenology
, logical positivism
and the linguistic turn
(see Contemporary philosophy
Middle Eastern philosophy
The regions of the Fertile Crescent
are home to the earliest known philosophical wisdom literature and is today mostly dominated by Islamic culture
Early Wisdom Literature
from the Fertile Crescent was a genre which sought to instruct people on ethical action, practical living and virtue through stories and proverbs. In Ancient Egypt
, these texts were known as ''sebayt
'' ('teachings') and they are central to our understandings of Ancient Egyptian philosophy
. Babylonian astronomy
also included much philosophical speculations about cosmology which may have influenced the Ancient Greeks.
and Christian philosophy
are religio-philosophical traditions that developed both in the Middle East and in Europe, which both share certain early Judaic texts (mainly the Tanakh
) and monotheistic beliefs. Jewish thinkers such as the Geonim
of the Talmudic Academies in Babylonia
engaged with Greek and Islamic philosophy. Later Jewish philosophy came under strong Western intellectual influences and includes the works of Moses Mendelssohn
who ushered in the Haskalah
(the Jewish Enlightenment), Jewish existentialism
, and Reform Judaism
The various traditions of Gnosticism
, which were influenced by both Greek and Abrahamic currents, originated around the first century and emphasized spiritual knowledge (''gnosis
Pre-Islamic Iranian philosophy
begins with the work of Zoroaster
, one of the first promoters of monotheism
and of the dualism
between good and evil. This dualistic cosmogony influenced later Iranian developments such as Manichaeism
, and Zurvanism
is the philosophical work originating in the Islamic tradition
and is mostly done in Arabic
. It draws from the religion of Islam as well as from Greco-Roman philosophy. After the Muslim conquests
, the translation movement
(mid-eighth to the late tenth century) resulted in the works of Greek philosophy becoming available in Arabic.
Early Islamic philosophy
developed the Greek philosophical traditions in new innovative directions. This intellectual work inaugurated what is known as the Islamic Golden Age
. The two main currents of early Islamic thought are Kalam
, which focuses on Islamic theology
, and Falsafa
, which was based on Aristotelianism
. The work of Aristotle was very influential among philosophers such as Al-Kindi
(9th century), Avicenna
(980 – June 1037) and Averroes
(12th century). Others such as Al-Ghazali
were highly critical of the methods of the Islamic Aristotelians and saw their metaphysical ideas as heretical. Islamic thinkers like Ibn al-Haytham
also developed a scientific method
, experimental medicine, a theory of optics and a legal philosophy. Ibn Khaldun
was an influential thinker in philosophy of history
Islamic thought also deeply influenced European intellectual developments, especially through the commentaries of Averroes on Aristotle. The Mongol invasions
and the destruction of Baghdad
in 1258 is often seen as marking the end of the Golden Age. Several schools of Islamic philosophy continued to flourish after the Golden Age however, and include currents such as Illuminationist philosophy
, Sufi philosophy
, and Transcendent theosophy
The 19th- and 20th-century Arab world
saw the ''Nahda
'' movement (literally meaning 'The Awakening'; also known as the 'Arab Renaissance'), which had a considerable influence on contemporary Islamic philosophy
( sa||lit=point of view', 'perspective) refers to the diverse philosophical traditions that emerged since the ancient times on the Indian subcontinent
. Indian philosophical traditions share various key concepts and ideas, which are defined in different ways and accepted or rejected by the different traditions. These include concepts such as ''dhárma''
'' and ''mokṣa
Some of the earliest surviving Indian philosophical texts are the Upanishads
of the later Vedic period
(1000–500 BCE), which are considered to preserve the ideas of Brahmanism
. Indian philosophy is commonly grouped based on their relationship to the Vedas and the ideas contained in them. Jainism
originated at the end of the Vedic period
, while the various traditions grouped under Hinduism
mostly emerged after the Vedic period as independent traditions. Hindus generally classify Indian philosophical traditions as either orthodox (''āstika''
) or heterodox (''nāstika'') depending on whether they accept the authority of the Vedas
and the theories of ''brahman
'' and ''ātman''
The schools which align themselves with the thought of the Upanishads, the so-called "orthodox" or "Hindu
" traditions, are often classified into six ''darśanas
'' or philosophies:Sānkhya
The doctrines of the Vedas and Upanishads were interpreted differently by these six schools of Hindu philosophy
, with varying degrees of overlap. They represent a "collection of philosophical views that share a textual connection," according to Chadha (2015). They also reflect a tolerance for a diversity of philosophical interpretations within Hinduism while sharing the same foundation.
"The attitude towards the existence of God varies within the Hindu religious tradition. This may not be entirely unexpected given the tolerance for doctrinal diversity for which the tradition is known. Thus of the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy, only three address the question in some detail. These are the schools of thought known as Nyaya, Yoga and the theistic forms of Vedanta." (pp. 1–2).]
Hindu philosophers of the six orthodox schools developed systems of epistemology (''pramana
'') and investigated topics such as metaphysics, ethics, psychology (''guṇa
, and soteriology
within the framework of the Vedic knowledge, while presenting a diverse collection of interpretations.
The commonly named six orthodox schools were the competing philosophical traditions of what has been called the "Hindu synthesis" of classical Hinduism
There are also other schools of thought which are often seen as "Hindu", though not necessarily orthodox (since they may accept different scriptures as normative, such as the Shaiva Agamas and Tantras
), these include different schools of Shavism
such as Pashupata
, Shaiva Siddhanta
, non-dual tantric Shavism
(i.e. Trika, Kaula, etc.).
The "Hindu" and "Orthodox" traditions are often contrasted with the "unorthodox" traditions (''nāstika,'' literally "those who reject"), though this is a label that is not used by the "unorthodox" schools themselves. These traditions reject the Vedas as authoritative and often reject major concepts and ideas that are widely accepted by the orthodox schools (such as ''Ātman'', ''Brahman'', and ''Īśvara''
[Bilimoria, P. 2000. ''Indian Philosophy'', edited by R. Perrett. London: Routledge. . p. 88.]
These unorthodox schools include Jainism (accepts ''ātman'' but rejects ''Īśvara,'' Vedas and ''Brahman''), Buddhism (rejects all orthodox concepts except rebirth and karma), Cārvāka
(materialists who reject even rebirth and karma) and Ājīvika
(known for their doctrine of fate).
[R Bhattacharya (2011), Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata, Anthem, , pp. 53, 94, 141–142] [Johannes Bronkhorst (2012), Free will and Indian philosophy, Antiquorum Philosophia: An International Journal, Roma Italy, Volume 6, pp. 19–30] [Wynne, Alexander. 2011. "The ātman and its negation." ''Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies'' 33(1–2):103–05. "The denial that a human being possesses a "self" or "soul" is probably the most famous Buddhist teaching. It is certainly its most distinct, as has been pointed out by G.P. Malalasekera: 'In its denial of any real permanent Soul or Self, Buddhism stands alone.' A similar modern Sinhalese perspective has been expressed by Walpola Rahula: 'Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of such a Soul, Self or Ātman.' The 'no Self' or 'no soul' doctrine (; ) is particularly notable for its widespread acceptance and historical endurance. It was a standard belief of virtually all the ancient schools of Indian Buddhism (the notable exception being the Pudgalavādins), and has persisted without change into the modern era.… th views are mirrored by the modern Theravādin perspective of Mahasi Sayadaw that 'there is no person or soul' and the modern Mahāyāna view of the fourteenth Dalai Lama that 'e Buddha taught that…our belief in an independent self is the root cause of all suffering.']
is one of the only two surviving "unorthodox" traditions (along with Buddhism). It generally accepts the concept of a permanent soul (''jiva
'') as one of the five ''astikayas
'' (eternal, infinite categories that make up the substance of existence). The other four being ''dhárma''
'' ('space'), and ''pudgala
'' ('matter'). Jain thought holds that all existence is cyclic, eternal and uncreated.
Some of the most important elements of Jain philosophy are the Jain theory of karma
, the doctrine of nonviolence (ahiṃsā
) and the theory of "many-sidedness" or Anēkāntavāda
. The ''Tattvartha Sutra
'' is the earliest known, most comprehensive and authoritative compilation of Jain philosophy.
Buddhist philosophy begins with the thought of Gautama Buddha
between 6th and 4th century BCE) and is preserved in the early Buddhist texts
. It originated in the Indian region of Magadha
and later spread to the rest of the Indian subcontinent
, East Asia
, Central Asia
, and Southeast Asia
. In these regions, Buddhist thought developed into different philosophical traditions which used various languages (like Tibetan
). As such, Buddhist philosophy is a trans-cultural
and international phenomenon.
The dominant Buddhist philosophical traditions in East Asian nations are mainly based on Indian Mahayana
Buddhism. The philosophy of the Theravada
school is dominant in Southeast Asia
n countries like Sri Lanka
to the true nature of things is considered one of the roots of suffering (''dukkha
''), Buddhist philosophy is concerned with epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and psychology. Buddhist philosophical texts must also be understood within the context of meditative practices
which are supposed to bring about certain cognitive shifts.
[Westerhoff, Jan. 2018. ''The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy''. Oxford: Oxford University Press.]
Key innovative concepts include the four noble truths
as an analysis of ''dukkha'', ''anicca''
(impermanence), and ''anatta
[ "All phenomenal existence n Buddhismis said to have three interlocking characteristics: impermanence, suffering and lack of soul or essence." (p. 47).]
After the death of the Buddha, various groups began to systematize his main teachings, eventually developing comprehensive philosophical systems termed ''Abhidharma
Following the Abhidharma schools, Indian Mahayana
philosophers such as Nagarjuna
developed the theories of ''śūnyatā
'' ('emptiness of all phenomena') and ''vijñapti-matra''
('appearance only'), a form of phenomenology or transcendental idealism
. The Dignāga
school of ''pramāṇa
'' ('means of knowledge') promoted a sophisticated form of Buddhist epistemology
There were numerous schools, sub-schools, and traditions of Buddhist philosophy in ancient and medieval India. According to Oxford professor of Buddhist philosophy Jan Westerhoff
, the major Indian schools from 300 BCE to 1000 CE were:
tradition (now extinct), the Sthavira
schools (such as Sarvāstivāda
) and the Mahayana
schools. Many of these traditions were also studied in other regions, like Central Asia and China, having been brought there by Buddhist missionaries.
After the disappearance of Buddhism from India, some of these philosophical traditions continued to develop in the Tibetan Buddhist
, East Asian Buddhist
and Theravada Buddhist
East Asian philosophy
East Asian philosophical thought began in Ancient China, and Chinese philosophy begins during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the following periods after its fall when the "Hundred Schools of Thought" flourished (6th century to 221 BCE).
This period was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments and saw the rise of the major philosophical schools of China such as Confucianism (also known as Ruism), Legalism, and Taoism as well as numerous other less influential schools like Mohism and Naturalism. These philosophical traditions developed metaphysical, political and ethical theories such Tao, Yin and yang, Ren and Li.
These schools of thought further developed during the Han (206 BCE – 220 CE) and Tang (618–907 CE) eras, forming new philosophical movements like ''Xuanxue'' (also called ''Neo-Taoism''), and Neo-Confucianism. Neo-Confucianism was a syncretic philosophy, which incorporated the ideas of different Chinese philosophical traditions, including Buddhism and Taoism. Neo-Confucianism came to dominate the education system during the Song dynasty (960–1297), and its ideas served as the philosophical basis of the imperial exams for the scholar official class. Some of the most important Neo-Confucian thinkers are the Tang scholars Han Yu and Li Ao as well as the Song thinkers Zhou Dunyi (1017–1073) and Zhu Xi (1130–1200). Zhu Xi compiled the Confucian canon, which consists of the Four Books (the ''Great Learning'', the ''Doctrine of the Mean'', the ''Analects'' of Confucius, and the ''Mencius''). The Ming scholar Wang Yangming (1472–1529) is a later but important philosopher of this tradition as well.
Buddhism began arriving in China during the Han Dynasty, through a gradual Silk road transmission and through native influences developed distinct Chinese forms (such as Chan/Zen) which spread throughout the East Asian cultural sphere.
Chinese culture was highly influential on the traditions of other East Asian states and its philosophy directly influenced Korean philosophy, Vietnamese philosophy and Japanese philosophy. During later Chinese dynasties like the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) as well as in the Korean Joseon dynasty (1392–1897) a resurgent Neo-Confucianism led by thinkers such as Wang Yangming (1472–1529) became the dominant school of thought, and was promoted by the imperial state. In Japan, the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867) was also strongly influenced by Confucian philosophy. Confucianism continues to influence the ideas and worldview of the nations of the Chinese cultural sphere today.
In the Modern era, Chinese thinkers incorporated ideas from Western philosophy. Chinese Marxist philosophy developed under the influence of Mao Zedong, while a Chinese pragmatism developed under Hu Shih. The old traditional philosophies also began to reassert themselves in the 20th century. For example, New Confucianism, led by figures such as Xiong Shili, has become quite influential. Likewise, Humanistic Buddhism is a recent modernist Buddhist movement.
Modern Japanese thought meanwhile developed under strong Western influences such as the study of Western Sciences (Rangaku) and the modernist Meirokusha intellectual society which drew from European enlightenment thought and promoted liberal reforms as well as Western philosophies like Liberalism and Utilitarianism. Another trend in modern Japanese philosophy was the "National Studies" (Kokugaku) tradition. This intellectual trend sought to study and promote ancient Japanese thought and culture. Kokugaku thinkers such as Motoori Norinaga sought to return to a pure Japanese tradition which they called Shinto that they saw as untainted by foreign elements.
During the 20th century, the Kyoto School, an influential and unique Japanese philosophical school developed from Western phenomenology and Medieval Japanese Buddhist philosophy such as that of Dogen.
African philosophy is philosophy produced by African people, philosophy that presents African worldviews, ideas and themes, or philosophy that uses distinct African philosophical methods. Modern African thought has been occupied with Ethnophilosophy, with defining the very meaning of African philosophy and its unique characteristics and what it means to be African.
During the 17th century, Ethiopian philosophy developed a robust literary tradition as exemplified by Zera Yacob. Another early African philosopher was Anton Wilhelm Amo (c. 1703–1759) who became a respected philosopher in Germany. Distinct African philosophical ideas include Ujamaa, the Bantu idea of 'Force', Négritude, Pan-Africanism and Ubuntu. Contemporary African thought has also seen the development of Professional philosophy and of Africana philosophy, the philosophical literature of the African diaspora which includes currents such as black existentialism by African-Americans. Some modern African thinkers have been influenced by Marxism, African-American literature, Critical theory, Critical race theory, Postcolonialism and Feminism.
Indigenous American philosophy
Indigenous-American philosophical thought consists of a wide variety of beliefs and traditions among different American cultures. Among some of U.S. Native American communities, there is a belief in a metaphysical principle called the 'Great Spirit' (Siouan: ''wakȟáŋ tȟáŋka''; Algonquian: ''gitche manitou''). Another widely shared concept was that of ''orenda'' ('spiritual power'). According to Whiteley (1998), for the Native Americans, "mind is critically informed by transcendental experience (dreams, visions and so on) as well as by reason."
[Whiteley, Peter M. 1998.] The practices to access these transcendental experiences are termed ''shamanism''. Another feature of the indigenous American worldviews was their extension of ethics to non-human animals and plants.
Native American philosophy
." ''Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.'' Taylor & Francis. .
In Mesoamerica, Aztec philosophy was an intellectual tradition developed by individuals called ''Tlamatini'' ('those who know something') and its ideas are preserved in various Aztec codices. The Aztec worldview posited the concept of an ultimate universal energy or force called ''Ōmeteōtl'' ('Dual Cosmic Energy') which sought a way to live in balance with a constantly changing, "slippery" world.
The theory of ''Teotl'' can be seen as a form of Pantheism. Aztec philosophers developed theories of metaphysics, epistemology, values, and aesthetics. Aztec ethics was focused on seeking ''tlamatiliztli'' ('knowledge', 'wisdom') which was based on moderation and balance in all actions as in the Nahua proverb "the middle good is necessary."
The Inca civilization also had an elite class of philosopher-scholars termed the ''Amawtakuna'' who were important in the Inca education system as teachers of religion, tradition, history and ethics. Key concepts of Andean thought are Yanantin and Masintin which involve a theory of “complementary opposites” that sees polarities (such as male/female, dark/light) as interdependent parts of a harmonious whole.
Women in philosophy
Although men have generally dominated philosophical discourse, women philosophers have engaged in the discipline throughout history. Ancient examples include Hipparchia of Maroneia (active ) and Arete of Cyrene (active 5th–4th centuries BCE). Some women philosophers were accepted during the medieval and modern eras, but none became part of the Western canon until the 20th and 21st century, when many suggest that G.E.M. Anscombe, Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, and Susanne Langer entered the canon.
[Duran, Jane. Eight women philosophers: theory, politics, and feminism. University of Illinois Press, 2005.]
In the early 1800s, some colleges and universities in the UK and US began admitting women, producing more female academics. Nevertheless, U.S. Department of Education reports from the 1990s indicate that few women ended up in philosophy, and that philosophy is one of the least gender-proportionate fields in the humanities, with women making up somewhere between 17% and 30% of philosophy faculty according to some studies. ["Salary, Promotion, and Tenure Status of Minority and Women Faculty in U.S. Colleges and Universities."National Center for Education Statistics, Statistical Analysis Report, March 2000; U.S. Department of Education, Office of Education Research and Improvement, Report # NCES 2000–173; 1993 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:93). See also "Characteristics and Attitudes of Instructional Faculty and Staff in the Humanities." National Center For Education Statistics, E.D. Tabs, July 1997. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Education Research and Improvement, Report # NCES 97-973;1993 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF-93).]
Branches of philosophy
Philosophical questions can be grouped into various branches. These groupings allow philosophers to focus on a set of similar topics and interact with other thinkers who are interested in the same questions.
These divisions are neither exhaustive, nor mutually exclusive. (A philosopher might specialize in Kantian epistemology, or Platonic aesthetics, or modern political philosophy). Furthermore, these philosophical inquiries sometimes overlap with each other and with other inquiries such as science, religion or mathematics.
Aesthetics is the "critical reflection on art, culture and nature." It addresses the nature of art, beauty and taste, enjoyment, emotional values, perception and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more precisely defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. Its major divisions are art theory, literary theory, film theory and music theory. An example from art theory is to discern the set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement such as the Cubist aesthetic.
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, studies what constitutes good and bad conduct, right and wrong values, and good and evil. Its primary investigations include how to live a good life and identifying standards of morality. It also includes investigating whether or not there ''is'' a best way to live or a universal moral standard, and if so, how we come to learn about it. The main branches of ethics are normative ethics, meta-ethics and applied ethics.
The three main views in ethics about what constitute moral actions are:
*Consequentialism, which judges actions based on their consequences. One such view is utilitarianism, which judges actions based on the net happiness (or pleasure) and/or lack of suffering (or pain) that they produce.
*Deontology, which judges actions based on whether or not they are in accordance with one's moral duty. In the standard form defended by Immanuel Kant, deontology is concerned with whether or not a choice respects the moral agency of other people, regardless of its consequences.
*Virtue ethics, which judges actions based on the moral character of the agent who performs them and whether they conform to what an ideally virtuous agent would do.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge.
Epistemologists examine putative sources of knowledge, including perceptual experience, reason, memory, and testimony. They also investigate questions about the nature of truth, belief, justification, and rationality.
Philosophical skepticism, which raises doubts about some or all claims to knowledge, has been a topic of interest throughout the history of philosophy. It arose early in Pre-Socratic philosophy and became formalized with Pyrrho, the founder of the earliest Western school of philosophical skepticism. It features prominently in the works of modern philosophers René Descartes and David Hume, and has remained a central topic in contemporary epistemological debates.
One of the most notable epistemological debates is between empiricism and rationalism. Empiricism places emphasis on observational evidence via sensory experience as the source of knowledge. Empiricism is associated with a posteriori knowledge, which is obtained through experience (such as scientific knowledge). Rationalism places emphasis on reason as a source of knowledge. Rationalism is associated with a priori knowledge, which is independent of experience (such as logic and mathematics).
One central debate in contemporary epistemology is about the conditions required for a belief to constitute knowledge, which might include truth and justification. This debate was largely the result of attempts to solve the Gettier problem. Another common subject of contemporary debates is the regress problem, which occurs when trying to offer proof or justification for any belief, statement, or proposition. The problem is that whatever the source of justification may be, that source must either be without justification (in which case it must be treated as an arbitrary foundation for belief), or it must have some further justification (in which case justification must either be the result of circular reasoning, as in coherentism, or the result of an infinite regress, as in infinitism).
Metaphysics is the study of the most general features of reality, such as existence, time, objects and their properties, wholes and their parts, events, processes and causation and the relationship between mind and body. Metaphysics includes cosmology, the study of the world in its entirety and ontology, the study of being.
A major point of debate is between realism, which holds that there are entities that exist independently of their mental perception and idealism, which holds that reality is mentally constructed or otherwise immaterial. Metaphysics deals with the topic of identity. Essence is the set of attributes that make an object what it fundamentally is and without which it loses its identity while accident is a property that the object has, without which the object can still retain its identity. Particulars are objects that are said to exist in space and time, as opposed to abstract objects, such as numbers, and universals, which are properties held by multiple particulars, such as redness or a gender. The type of existence, if any, of universals and abstract objects is an issue of debate.
Logic is the study of reasoning and argument.
Deductive reasoning is when, given certain premises, conclusions are unavoidably implied. Rules of inference are used to infer conclusions such as, modus ponens, where given “A” and “If A then B”, then “B” must be concluded.
Because sound reasoning is an essential element of all sciences, social sciences and humanities disciplines, logic became a formal science. Sub-fields include mathematical logic, philosophical logic, Modal logic, computational logic and non-classical logics. A major question in the philosophy of mathematics is whether mathematical entities are objective and discovered, called mathematical realism, or invented, called mathematical antirealism.
Mind and language
Philosophy of language explores the nature, origins, and use of language. Philosophy of mind explores the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body, as typified by disputes between materialism and dualism. In recent years, this branch has become related to cognitive science.
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science explores the foundations, methods, history, implications and purpose of science. Many of its subdivisions correspond to specific branches of science. For example, philosophy of biology deals specifically with the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical issues in the biomedical and life sciences.
Political philosophy is the study of government and the relationship of individuals (or families and clans) to communities including the state. It includes questions about justice, law, property and the rights and obligations of the citizen. Political philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics are traditionally linked subjects, under the general heading of value theory as they involve a normative or evaluative aspect.
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion deals with questions that involve religion and religious ideas from a philosophically neutral perspective (as opposed to theology which begins from religious convictions). Traditionally, religious questions were not seen as a separate field from philosophy proper, the idea of a separate field only arose in the 19th century.
[Wainwright, William J. 2005. "Introduction." Pp. 3–11 in ]
Issues include the existence of God, the relationship between reason and faith, questions of religious epistemology, the relationship between religion and science, how to interpret religious experiences, questions about the possibility of an afterlife, the problem of religious language and the existence of souls and responses to religious pluralism and diversity.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion
'', edited by W. J. Wainwright. New York: Oxford University Press.
"The expression “philosophy of religion” did not come into general use until the nineteenth century, when it was employed to refer to the articulation and criticism of humanity's religious consciousness and its cultural expressions in thought, language, feeling, and practice." ().
Metaphilosophy explores the aims of philosophy, its boundaries and its methods.
Applied and professional philosophy
Some of those who study philosophy become professional philosophers, typically by working as professors who teach, research and write in academic institutions. However, most students of academic philosophy later contribute to law, journalism, religion, sciences, politics, business, or various arts.
For example, public figures who have degrees in philosophy include comedians Steve Martin and Ricky Gervais, filmmaker Terrence Malick, Pope John Paul II, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, technology entrepreneur Peter Thiel, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bryer and vice presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. Curtis White has argued that philosophical tools are essential to humanities, sciences and social sciences.
Recent efforts to avail the general public to the work and relevance of philosophers include the million-dollar Berggruen Prize, first awarded to Charles Taylor in 2016. Some philosophers argue that this professionalization has negatively affected the discipline.
* List of important publications in philosophy
* List of years in philosophy
* List of philosophy journals
* List of philosophy awards
* List of unsolved problems in philosophy
* Lists of philosophers
* Social theory
* Blumenau, Ralph. ''Philosophy and Living''.
* Craig, Edward. ''Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction''.
* Harrison-Barbet, Anthony, ''Mastering Philosophy''.
* Russell, Bertrand.
The Problems of Philosophy
* Sinclair, Alistair J. ''What is Philosophy? An Introduction'', 2008,
* Sober, Elliott. (2001). ''Core Questions in Philosophy: A Text with Readings''. Upper Saddle River, Prentice Hall.
* Solomon, Robert C. ''Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy''.
* Warburton, Nigel. ''Philosophy: The Basics''.
* Nagel, Thomas. ''What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy''.
* ''Classics of Philosophy (Vols. 1, 2, & 3)'' by Louis P. Pojman
* ''The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill'' by Edwin Arthur
* ''European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche'' by Monroe Beardsley
* Cottingham, John. Western Philosophy: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print. Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies.
* Tarnas, Richard. ''The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View''.
* Imbo, Samuel Oluoch. ''An Introduction to African Philosophy.''
* ''A Source Book in Indian Philosophy'' by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Charles A. Moore
* Hamilton, Sue. ''Indian Philosophy: a Very Short Introduction''.
* Kupperman, Joel J. ''Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts''.
* Lee, Joe and Powell, Jim. ''Eastern Philosophy For Beginners''.
* Smart, Ninian. ''World Philosophies''.
* Copleston, Frederick. ''Philosophy in Russia: From Herzen to Lenin and Berdyaev''.
* ''Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings'' edited by Muhammad Ali Khalidi
* Higgins, Kathleen M. and Solomon, Robert C. ''A Short History of Philosophy''.
* Durant, Will, ''Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers'', Pocket, 1991,
* Knight, Kelvin. ''Aristotelian Philosophy: Ethics and Politics from Aristotle to MacIntyre''.
* ''The Phenomenology Reader'' by Dermot Moran, Timothy Mooney
* Kim, J. and Ernest Sosa, Ed. (1999). ''Metaphysics: An Anthology''. Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies. Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Modern & contemporary
* ''Existentialism: Basic Writings (Second Edition)'' by Charles Guignon, Derk Pereboom
* Curley, Edwin, ''A Spinoza Reader'', Princeton, 1994,
* Bullock, Alan, R.B. Woodings, and John Cumming, ''eds''. ''The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thinkers'', in series, ''Fontana Original'. Hammersmith, Eng.: Fontana Press, 1992 983 xxv, 867 p.
* Scruton, Roger. ''A Short History of Modern Philosophy''.
* ''Contemporary Analytic Philosophy: Core Readings'' by James Baillie
* Appiah, Kwame Anthony. ''Thinking it Through – An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy'', 2003,
* Critchley, Simon. ''Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction''.
* ''The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy'' by Robert Audi
* ''The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (10 vols.) edited by Edward Craig, Luciano Floridi (available online by subscription); or
* ''The Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' edited by Edward Craig (an abridgement)
* ; in 1996, a ninth supplemental volume appeared that updated the classic 1967 encyclopedia.
* ''International Directory of Philosophy and Philosophers''. Charlottesville, Philosophy Documentation Center.
* ''Directory of American Philosophers''. Charlottesville, Philosophy Documentation Center.
* ''Routledge History of Philosophy'' (10 vols.) edited by John Marenbon
* ''History of Philosophy'' (9 vols.) by Frederick Copleston
* ''A History of Western Philosophy'' (5 vols.) by W.T. Jones
* ''History of Italian Philosophy'' (2 vols.) by Eugenio Garin. Translated from Italian and Edited by Giorgio Pinton. Introduction by Leon Pompa.
* ''Encyclopaedia of Indian Philosophies'' (8 vols.), edited by Karl H. Potter et al. (first 6 volumes out of print)
* ''Indian Philosophy'' (2 vols.) by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
* ''A History of Indian Philosophy'' (5 vols.) by Surendranath Dasgupta
* ''History of Chinese Philosophy'' (2 vols.) by Fung Yu-lan, Derk Bodde
* ''Instructions for Practical Living and Other Neo-Confucian Writings by Wang Yang-ming'' by Chan, Wing-tsit
* ''Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy'' edited by Antonio S. Cua
* ''Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion'' by Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Franz-Karl Ehrhard, Kurt Friedrichs
* ''Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy'' by Brian Carr, Indira Mahalingam
* ''A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English'' by John A. Grimes
* ''History of Islamic Philosophy'' edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Oliver Leaman
* ''History of Jewish Philosophy'' edited by Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman
* ''A History of Russian Philosophy: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Centuries'' by Valerii Aleksandrovich Kuvakin
* Ayer, A.J. et al., Ed. (1994) ''A Dictionary of Philosophical Quotations''. Blackwell Reference Oxford. Oxford, Basil Blackwell Ltd.
* Blackburn, S., Ed. (1996)''The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy''. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
* Mauter, T., Ed. ''The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy''. London, Penguin Books.
* Runes, D., Ed. (1942)
''The Dictionary of Philosophy''
. New York, The Philosophical Library, Inc.
* Angeles, P.A., Ed. (1992). ''The Harper Collins Dictionary of Philosophy''. New York, Harper Perennial.
* Hoffman, Eric, Ed. (1997) ''Guidebook for Publishing Philosophy''. Charlottesville, Philosophy Documentation Center.
* Popkin, R.H. (1999). ''The Columbia History of Western Philosophy''. New York, Columbia University Press.
* Bullock, Alan, and Oliver Stallybrass, ''jt. eds''. ''The Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought''. New York: Harper & Row, 1977. xix, 684 p. ''N.B''.: "First published in England under the title, ''The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought''."
* Reese, W.L. ''Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought''. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1980. iv, 644 p.
''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
The ''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
– a comprehensive directory of online philosophical articles and books by academic philosophers
Philosophy Magazines and Journals
Philosophy Documentation Center
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