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History of philosophy Essay

The study of philosophy may deal with every dimension of human life and can raise questions in any field of study or endeavor. Philosophy pursues questions rather than answers. Philosophy is not bound by any particular “truths” that set limits to the desire to continue asking questions. Philosophy changes historically both in respect to its content and its character. Definitions Etymologically, philosophy is derived from the Greek word philein or philia meaning “love” or “friendship” and sophia meaning “wisdom. ” Hence, “love of wisdom. ” The Chinese define philosophy as Zhe-Xue or Che Shueh (originally coined by Dr.Nishi Amane).

Zhe means “wisdom” while Xue means “study. ” Significantly, the Chinese character Zhe bears the emblem of mouth and hand which suggests the inseparability of words and action. This philosophy is the translation of words into action or the application of theory into praxis. Hence, for the Chinese, philosophy singles out a person to live on what he says. For the Hindus, philosophy is Darsana. Darsana means seeing, not only through the eyes but through the whole being of the one that sees. In other words, philosophy for the Hindus means seeing the whole reality through a total advertence and involvement of the looker.

Philosophy refers to the field of study of the process which includes standards and guidelines for thought and for logic by which people develop concepts and principles which describe people, things and events, and techniques for using the concept and principles for the purpose of observing, analyzing, understanding, evaluating, organizing, and dealing with themselves and other people, things, and events who/which comprise reality (Kroepel, 2011) Philosophy refers to a human drive in the search of knowledge and wisdom to facilitate the evolution of man.

Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. CONCEPT OF PHILOSOPHY In order to live, a man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is, he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts. All of this things put together, is the very concept of PHILOSOPHY. Origin of Philosophy Western Philosophy began in Miletus ( accdg.to Reginald Ellen).

The radix of the claim lies on Thales: the acclaimed first philosopher. Historically, western philosophy began in Greece. The word philosophy is even derived from the Greek language and means a love of wisdom. Ancient western philosophy had three main branches: ethics, logic, and physics. These three branches have now broken into even smaller sub-sections, covering everything from epistemology to aesthetics. Socrates was a large influence on western philosophy, but there was a pre-Socratic era that covered philosophical topics.

Eastern philosophy has its roots in religion, specifically the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism & Christianism). It is more concerned with asking questions about God and how the world relates to God. Abrahamic religions (also Abrahamism) are the monotheistic faiths of Middle Eastern origin, emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him. They are one of the major divisions in comparative religion, along with Indian religions (Dharmic) and East Asian religions (Taoist).

Abraham was said to have lived during the Iron Age sometime after 2000 B. C. E. , in the city of Ur in Mesopotamia. The way eastern philosophers created theories on knowledge and religion has led people to practice the philosophies of certain philosophers without adopting all aspects of that branch. For example, some people may consider themselves believers in the Buddhist philosophy, but they never actually go and worship Buddha. The eastern philosophers historically believed that religion was a large part of the study of philosophy.

Contemporary practices of eastern philosophy often remove the religious part. Islam impacted much of what we now consider eastern philosophy, meaning that most branches have a religious aspect. The most common branches of eastern philosophy include: Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Maoism, Shinto, Confucius, and Legalism. Both regions can attribute a large amount of current philosophical thought to some form of religion. The eastern world chose to embrace religion as their main pursuit of knowledge, while the western world broke philosophy into a bunch of different branches.

Branches of Philosophy Epistemology This refers to the branch of philosophy that is broadly defined as the study of knowledge. It answers the question, “how do we know? ” It encompasses the nature of concepts, the construction of concepts, the validity of the senses, logical reasoning, as well as thoughts, ideas, memories, emotions and all things mental. It is concerned with how our minds are related to reality, and whether these relationships are valid or invalid. Aesthetics refers to the branch of philosophy that is broadly defined as the study of art.

It answers the question, “what life can be like? ” In philosophy, aesthetics is important because it delves into the reason why art has always existed to reflect and express the desire and need of mankind through the ages to see the world in a different and clear way. It further evaluates art by using the standards of human life, and if whether it accomplishes the job of satisfying man’s intellectual needs, or whether it tends to hurt or make worse of those needs. Metaphysics Literally means beyond physics, this refers to the branch of philosophy that is broadly defined as the study of existence.

It answers the questions, “What is out there? ” or “What is real? ” As the foundation of philosophy, metaphysics is also regarded as the fundamental view of the world. It encompasses everything that exists, as well as the nature of existence itself. It determines whether the world is real, or merely an illusion. Ethics This refers to the branch of philosophy that is broadly defined as the study of action. It answers the question, “what should I do? ” Ethics deals with the proper course of action for man. Specifically, it answers whether or not a human act is good or bad.

At a more fundamental level, Ethics can also be defined as the method by which people categorize values and pursue them. Logic It is the branch of philosophy that is broadly defined as the study of reason. It answers the question, “what is correct reasoning? ” Furthermore, logic attempts to distinguish a fact from fallacy. Politics It refers to the branch of philosophy that is broadly defined as the study of force. It answers the question, “what acts are permissible? ” Under its philosophical perspective, politics is ethics applied to a group of people. Brief History of Philosophy.

Pre-Socratic Philosophy Characterized by the rejection of the mythological explanation on the nature and phenomena in the universe. The thinkers under this time period were mainly concerned with the search for the “true essence of things” and made use of systematic and scientific approach in uncovering the realities in the universe. Pre-Socratic Philosophers Thales (c. 624 – 546 B. C. ) Greek philosopher who was regarded as the first philosopher in western tradition. He became known for positing that water is the single element that comprised all things in the universe.

He also made famous the aphorism, “know thy self. ” Anaximenes (c. 610 – 546 B. C. ) A student of Thales who postulated that air is the source of all things in the universe. His major contribution, however, was stating that nothing can be created from nothing. Matter, force, and energy are indestructible. These ideas later reappeared in physics in the laws of the conservation of matter and energy. Anaximander He explained the world as originating in conflicts between contraries, such as hot and cold and wet and dry. The cold partly dried up, leaving the Earth and its water.

The hot turned some water into mist and air, while the remainder ascended to form fiery rings in the heavens. Holes in the rings are the sun, moon, and stars. CLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY Classical Philosophy was primarily characterized by the rise of the “Great Greek Triumvirate” – Socrates, Plato & Aristotle. Classical Philosophers Socrates (c. 469 – 399 B. C. ) A Greek philosopher who became known as one of the most prominent philosopher in Ethics. Unlike his contemporaries, Socrates was more concerned with how people should behave rather than how the world works. Plato (c. 428 – 348 B. C. )

A student of Socrates who become known for through his dialogues which contained the presentation of his ideologies and theories in a conversational form. Aristotle (c. 384 – 322 B. C. ) He was the student of Plato and became known as the first thinker to create a comprehensive system of philosophy, encompassing Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics, Metaphysics, Logic and Science. MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY Medieval Philosophy was the period predominantly composed of philosophers who were concerned with proving the existence of God and with reconciling Christianity/Islam with the classical philosophy of Greece particularly that of Aristotle .

This period also saw the establishment of the first universities, which became an important factor in the subsequent development of philosophy. Medieval Philosophers Avicenna (980 – 1037) A Persian philosopher, physician and polymath during the Golden Age of Islam. As a philosopher and a devout Muslim, he tried to reconcile the rational Greek philosophy with Islamic theology. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) An Italian philosopher and theologian who became a great influence on subsequent Christian philosophies, particularly that of the Roman Catholic Church.

EARLY MODERN PHILOSOPHY Early Modern Philosophy. The rise of Modern Philosophy can be attributed to certain historical and cultural changes that happened between the Age of Reason during the 17th century and the Age of Enlightenment during the 18th century. Among the changes during the said period were the advancement in science, the growth of religious tolerance and the rise of liberalism (promotion of liberty and equality). Early Modern Philosophers Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) A French philosopher, mathematician, scientist and writer of the Age of Reason.

He has been called the “Father of Modern Philosophy”, and much of a subsequent Western philosophy can be seen as a response for his writings. He is responsible for one of the best-known quotations in philosophy: “Cogito, ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am” (Mastin 2008). Baruch Spinoza (1623 – 1677) a Dutch philosopher who was a contemporary of Descartes. Spinoza became famous for his belief that absolutely everything including human behaviour occurs through the operation of necessity, leaving absolutely no room for free will and spontaneity.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 – 1716) A German philosopher, mathematician, scientist and polymath who postulated the concept of “monads” which refers to the ultimate element of the universe from which all things, including human beings and God himself are made of. Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) A German philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment. He is regarded as one of the most famous thinkers in modern philosophy. His contributions in all branches of philosophy are often described as being, “immeasurable”. Kant’s Copernican Revolution.

One of the most popular Kantian theories which states that the “representation” of an object greatly helps the perceiver to perceive a certain object and not the object per se. To put it more accurately, tangible materials (such as the actual glass) are less important in perceiving the glass. What is important is how we experience the “glassness” of the glass through experience. Kant believed that the human mind can be compared to a tabula rasa (blank tablet). Examples: It is like a computer with no operating system. A computer with no “O. S. ” should be installed with various programs to function properly.

A new born baby should be exposed with positive experiences which may affect his lifestyle and manner on how he/she perceive things. MODERN PHILOSOPHY Modern Philosophy. The modern period of philosophy generally refers to the 19th and 20th centuries. The late 20th Century which is sometimes referred to as the contemporary period, became the venue of major development in philosophy characterized by the rise of new philosophical movements. Modern Philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832) An English philosopher, political radical and legal and social reformer of the early modern period.

He became the founder of the Utilitarianism which refers to the principle that holds that the right action is that which would cause “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”. John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873) An English philosopher and political scientist who was the protege of Bentham and conducted major improvements on the principles of Utilitarianism. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (pronounced NEE-cha) (1844 – 1900) A 19th Century German philosopher who was known for challenging the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality, famously uttering, “God is Dead”.

EASTERN & WESTERN PHILOSOPHIES: AN OVERVIEW Western Philosophy Refers to the philosophical thinking in the Western or Occidental world, particularly in Europe. Historically, it refers to the philosophical thinking of Western civilization, beginning in ancient Greece. Western thought puts more emphasis on individualism, science, math, and politics – hence, rational and materialistic. It can be seen as the triumph of reason and empiricism over faith/religion – a search involving many questions. Eastern Philosophy.

Refers broadly to the various philosophies in the Eastern or Oriental world, particularly Asia and some Arab countries. Historically, it is heavily influenced by Hinduism — the world’s oldest religion, beginning in India. Eastern thought puts more emphasis on interdependence (of human beings and nature), harmony, unity, and faith – hence, meditative and spiritual. It can be seen as the triumph of faith/religion over science and reason – an answer following realization. KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF EASTERN & WESTERN PHILOSOPHIES Western Philosophy.

Is rational because most western thought focused on refining epistemology and logic. It emphasized that it is the individual using his/her rational ability to deduce the truth about the things around him/her, and this separates the individual as a subjective mind different from objective reality: Nature, God, the Universe. Eastern Philosophy In the East, philosophers have been more concerned with ordaining society in a harmonious manner, finding humanity’s proper place in society and nature, acting and thinking in a way that would promote unity and order in the universe.

It does not have to rely on rationality and often tries to transcend individuality itself to reveal a person’s inherent sameness with the universe/nature. Reason is in fact seen as a stumbling block to truly understand reality. It focuses on how to live and tends to accept the way things are. Eastern thought is focused more on the mind and the spirit/soul, tending to offer a different level of internal experience (meditative) from which to draw conclusions. Thus, it would be hard to separate philosophy and religion.


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