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Meaning and Definition of Philosophy Essay

The term “Philosophy” is derived from two Greek words, Philia meaning “to love” or “to befriend” and, Sophia meaning “wisdom. ” Thus, philosophy, means “the love of wisdom”. It was coined by Pythagoras, one of the sages of ancient Greece, born about the year 584 B. C. Philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other.

As an academic discipline philosophy is much the same. Those who study philosophy are perpetually engaged in asking, answering, and arguing for their answers to life’s most basic questions. To make such a pursuit more systematic academic philosophy is traditionally divided into major areas of study. Characteristics of Philosophy Philosophy is distinguished from theology in that philosophy rejects dogma and deals with speculation rather than faith. Covers areas of inquiry where no facts as such are available.

Philosophy attains knowledge, not by making use of the principles or articles of faith, but by the use of the principle of natural cognition, which may be obtained from the investigation of nature and the natural study of things. Methods of Philosophy Philosophy investigates the ultimate causes of things, it is enough for it to part from unquestionable experience. It employs rational inference as its main instrumentality. Hence, it is experiential, but chiefly rational. Philosophy uses the rational method in solving problems.

The rational method means not only reasoning but also contemplation combined with and confirmed by experience, observation, reflection and tradition. Philosophy as a Science and as an Art Philosophy is a science that systematically develops a hypothesis with the use of analytical tools that would help resolve the problem through logical reasoning. It is open for debates as a human endeavor to seek the truth through learnt knowledge. Philosophy is an art because you require inherent skills & natural ability to apply the philosophical principles. Philosophy stands at the pinnacle of artistic pursuits.

Philosophy is the crystallization of artistic expression. Distinction and Commonalities between Science and Philosophy a) Objects – Both science and philosophy attempts to understand and explain nature and reality. Science asks what and how and is only concerned with measurable data. In philosophy, it also asks why and is also concerned with things that can’t be measured. b) Methods – The methods of both science and philosophy is done through observation and rationality. The only difference is that science uses instruments while philosophy only uses reflection.

c) Procedure – Both science and philosophy starts with a thing that is unknown which you want to know something about. The only difference between the two is that science uses scientific method to come up with a result while philosophy don’t. d) Conclusions – Both science and philosophy raises questions even after they have come up with a conclusion. Science’ conclusion, if proven, may become a law while in philosophy is only a way of how to look at things and can’t become a law. Main Branches of Philosophy Metaphysics It is a branch of philosophy that studies the ultimate structure and constitution of reality.

It is usually concerned with questions such as, what is being, what is a thing, what is the thing hood of things and what makes our world a world of things at all? Aristotle, Plato and Aquinas are some of the people who supported Metaphysics. Ethics Also known as moral philosophy, the field of ethics involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosophers in this branch attempts to answer questions such as: what is good? What is right? Is morality objective or subjective? How should I treat others? Immanuel Kant and Plato are some who advocated ethics.

Ethics today are divided into three general subject areas: meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. a. Meta-ethics – Investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Meta-ethics answers to the questions of, are they merely social inventions, and do they involve more the expressions of our individual emotions? b. Normative Ethics – Takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. Involves in having good habits, following duties, and knowing the consequences of our behavior on others. c.

Applied Ethics – Involves in examining specific controversial issues, such as abortion, capital punishments or homosexuality. Aesthetics A branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensory-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiments and taste. Some of the questions are concerned with the value of aesthetics and the variety of aesthetic attitudes, what can life be like? Immanuel Kant is the most influential theorist in this branch of philosophy.

Epistemology It is the study of knowledge. Epistemologists concern themselves with a number of tasks, which we might sort into two categories. First is to determine the nature of knowledge; what does it mean to say that someone knows, or fails to know something? Second is to determine the extent of human knowledge; how much do we, can we, know? Aside from its focus on the nature of knowledge, Epistemology also focuses how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification. a. Belief – Knowledge is a kind of belief.

If one has no beliefs about a particular matter, one cannot have knowledge about it. b. Truth – Knowledge, then, requires belief. Of course, not all beliefs constitute knowledge. Belief is necessary but not sufficient for knowledge. We are all sometimes mistaken in what we believe; in other words, while some of our beliefs are true, others are false. As we try to acquire knowledge, then, we are trying to increase our stock of true beliefs. c. Justification – Just as knowledge requires successfully achieving the objective of true belief, it also requires success with regard to the formation of that belief.

In other words, not all true beliefs constitute knowledge; only true beliefs arrived at in the right way constitute knowledge. Rational Psychology Metaphysical discipline that attempted to determine the nature of the human soul by a priori reasoning. Its subject-matter is the soul or mind, and its major task is to prove the immortality of the soul. It is also called Pneumatology, study of spirit or soul. One of three disciplines under “special metaphysics” in Christian Wolff’s division of metaphysics. Theodicy This philosophy study concerns God: His existence and His nature.

It also attempts to reconcile the seeming conflict between the goodness of God and the existence of evil in the world. The term was coined in 1710 by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. Do you believe in God? Does God really exist? These are some of the questions that are raised in Theodicy. Social Philosophy The philosophical study of questions about social behavior of humans. The philosophy of social science can be described broadly as having two aims. First, it seeks to produce a rational reconstruction of social science.

Second, the philosophy of social science seeks to critique the social sciences with the aim of enhancing their ability to explain the social world or otherwise improve our understanding of it. Thus philosophy of social science is both descriptive and prescriptive. What is the method of social science? Does social science use the same methods as natural science? These are some of the questions that concerns the philosophers. Logic Logic is one of the most important and oldest branches of philosophy and its subject matter falls at the core of philosophizing.

Logic studies patterns of reasoning dividing them into those that are valid and invalid with respect to a set of given rules. Aristotle is one of the proponent of this branch of philosophy. Aristotle does not believe that the purpose of logic is to prove that human beings can have knowledge, instead, the aim of logic is the elaboration of a coherent system that allows us to investigate, classify, and evaluate good and bad forms of reasoning. Other Subfields Philosophy of Science This is probably the largest subfield generated by epistemology.

Philosophy of science is usually divided into philosophy of the natural sciences and philosophy of the social sciences. It has recently been divided further, into philosophy of physics, biology, psychology, economics, and other sciences. Philosophy of science clarifies both the quest for scientific knowledge and the results yielded by that quest. It does this by exploring the logic of scientific evidence; the nature of scientific laws, explanations, and theories; and the possible connections among the various branches of science. How, for instance, is psychology related to brain biology, and biology to chemistry?

And how are the social sciences related to the natural sciences? It is not an attempt to “do” science, but to ask questions about how science is done or why science is done and how and why it may be a good method. It is concerned with all the assumptions, foundations, methods, implications of science, and with the use and merit of science. This discipline sometimes overlaps metaphysics, ontology and epistemology when it explores whether scientific results comprise a study of truth. Plato, Aristotle, and Empedocles are some of the many philosophers of science. Philosophy of Education.

A field of applied philosophy that examines the aims, forms, methods, and results of education as both a process and a field of study. It is influenced both by developments within philosophy, especially questions of ethics and epistemology, and by concerns arising from instructional practice. Some of the philosophers of philosophy of education: Socrates, contributed his dialectic method of inquiry. Plato and his vision of ideal Republic. Aristotle who considered human nature, habit and reason to be equally important forces to be cultivated in education. Philosophy of Religion.

Philosophy of religion is the philosophical study of the meaning and nature of religion. It includes the analyses of religious concepts, beliefs, terms, arguments, and practices of religious adherents. The range of those engaged in the field of philosophy of religion is broad and diverse and includes philosophers from the analytic and continental traditions, Eastern and Western thinkers, religious believers and agnostics, skeptics and atheists. Philosophy of religion draws on all of the major areas of philosophy as well as other relevant fields, including theology, history, sociology, psychology, and the natural sciences.

Aristotle, Peter Abelard and St. Thomas Aquinas are some of the major philosophers of religion. Six main focus of philosophy of religion: a) Religious Language and Belief b) Religious Diversity c) Concepts of God / Ultimate Reality d) Arguments for and against the Existence of God e) Problems of Evil and Suffering f) Miracles Philosophy of History History is the study of the past in all its forms. Philosophy of history examines the theoretical foundations of the practice, application, and social consequences of history and historiography.

It is similar to other area studies – such as philosophy of science or philosophy of religion – in two respects. First, philosophy of history utilizes the best theories in the core areas of philosophy like metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics to address questions about the nature of the past and how we come to know it: whether the past proceeds in a random way or is guided by some principle of order, how best to explain or describe the events and objects of the past, how historical events can be considered causally efficacious on one another, and how to adjudicate testimony and evidence.

Second, as is the case with the other area-studies, philosophy of history investigates problems that are unique to its subject matter. History focuses on the unique rather than the general. The founding philosopher of history is St. Augustine. St. Augustine was the first Christian to offer a comprehensive Philosophy of History. One of his greatest accomplishments was the sanctification of Plato’s understanding of the two realms: the perfect Celestial Kingdom and the corrupt copy. Philosophy of Politics and Law.

Study of such topics as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what makes a government legitimate. Philosophy of law (or legal philosophy) is concerned with providing a general philosophical analysis of law and legal institutions. Issues in the field range from abstract conceptual questions about the nature of law and legal systems to normative questions about the relationship between law and morality and the justification for various legal institutions.

Three categories into which the topics of legal philosophy fall: analytic jurisprudence, normative jurisprudence, and critical theories of law. a) Analytic jurisprudence – Involves providing an analysis of the essence of law so as to understand what differentiates it from other systems of norms, such as ethics. b) Normative jurisprudence – Involves the examination of normative, evaluative, and otherwise prescriptive issues about the law, such as restrictions on freedom, obligations to obey the law, and the grounds for punishment.

c) Critical Theories of Law – Challenges more traditional forms of legal philosophy such as, critical legal studies and feminist jurisprudence. Philosophy of Mind This subfield has emerged from metaphysical concerns with the mind and mental phenomena. The philosophy of mind addresses not only the possible relations of the mental to the physical, but the many concepts having an essential mental element: belief, desire, emotion, feeling, sensation, passion, will, personality, and others.

A number of major questions in the philosophy of mind cluster in the area of action theory: What differentiates actions, such as raising an arm, from mere body movements, such as the rising of an arm? Must mental elements, for example intentions and beliefs, enter into adequate explanations of our actions, or can actions be explained by appeal to ordinary physical events? And what is required for our actions to be free? Aristotle is one proponent of this discipline.


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