Branches of Philosophy

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 20 November 2016

Branches of Philosophy

Metaphysics is a traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms: What is there? What is it like? A person who studies metaphysics is called a metaphysicist or a metaphysician. The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world, e. g. , existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility.

A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into the basic categories of being and how they relate to each other. Another central branch of metaphysics is cosmology, the study of the totality of all phenomena within the universe. Prior to the modern history of science, scientific questions were addressed as a part of metaphysics known as natural philosophy. Originally, the term “science” (Latin scientia) simply meant “knowledge”. The scientific method, however, transformed natural philosophy into an empirical activity deriving from experiment unlike the rest of philosophy.

By the end of the 18th century, it had begun to be called “science” to distinguish it from philosophy. Thereafter, metaphysics denoted philosophical enquiry of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence. [6] Some philosophers of science, such as the neo-positivists, say that natural science rejects the study of metaphysics, while other philosophers of science strongly disagree. areas of philosophy, and most other philosophical schools turn back to it for basic definition. In that respect, the term metaphysics is a broad one, encompassing the philosophical ideas of cosmology and ontology.

Metaphysics or First Philosophy The term “metaphysics” comes from Greek, meaning “after the Physics”. Although the term metaphysics generally makes sense in the way that it partially refers to things outisde of and beyond the natural sciences, this is not the origin of the term (as opposted to, say, meta-ethics, which refers to the nature of ethics itself). Instead, the term was used by later editors of Aristotle. Aristotle had written several books on matter and physics, and followed those volumes with work on ontology, and other broad subjects.

These editors referred to them as “the books that came after the books on physics” or “metaphysics”. Aristotle himself refers to metaphysics as “first philosophy”. This term was also used by some later philosophers, such as Descartes, whose primary work on the subject of metaphysics is called Meditations on First Philosophy. * Branches of Metaphysics The main branches of metaphysics are: Ontology Cosmology Epistemology Epistemology is the area of philosophy that is concerned with knowledge.

The main concerns of epistemology are the definition of knowledge, the sources of knowledge (innate ideas, experience, etc. , the process of acquiring knowledge and the limits of knowledge. Epistemology considers that knowledge can be obtained through experience and/or reason. It is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and is also referred to as “theory of knowledge”. It questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired, and the extent to which any given subject or entity can be known. Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification. * Defining Knowledge

A primary concern of epistemology is the very definition of knowledge itself. The traditional definition, since Plato, is that knowledge is justified true belief, but recent evaluations of the concept have shown supposed counterexamples to this definition. In order to fully explore the nature of knowledge and how we come to know things, the various conceptions of what knowledge is must first be understood. * Sources of Knowledge The sources of knowledge must also be considered. Perception, reason, memory, testimony, introspection and innate ideas are all supposed sources of knowledge.

Are they equally reliable? * Scepticism There also seems to be reason to doubt each of these sources of knowledge. Could it be that all knowledge is fallible? If that is the case, do we really know anything? This is the central question to the problem of scepticism. Logic Logic has two meanings: first, it describes the use of valid reasoning where it is used in most intellectual activities, including philosophy and science, or, second, it describes the study of modes of reasoning (those which are valid, and those which are fallacious). It is primarily studied in he disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science. It examines general forms that arguments may take. In mathematics, it is the study of valid inferences within some formal language. Logic is also studied in argumentation theory. Logic was studied in several ancient civilizations, including India, China, Persia and Greece. In the West, logic was established as a formal discipline by Aristotle, who gave it a fundamental place in philosophy. The study of logic was part of the classical trivium, which also included grammar and rhetoric.

In the East, logic was developed by Buddhists and Jainists. Logic is often divided into three parts, inductive reasoning, abductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning. Aesthetics Aesthetics (also spelled ? sthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing 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 sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature. More specific aesthetic theory, often with practical implications, relating to a particular branch of the arts is divided into areas of aesthetics such as art theory, literary theory, film theory and music theory. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” There are two basic standings on the nature of beauty: objective and subjective judgement. Subjective judgement of beauty suggests that beauty is not the same to everyone — that which aesthetically pleases the observer is beautiful (to the observer). Alternatively, those partial to the objective description of beauty try to measaure it.

They suggest that certain properties of an object create an inherent beauty — such as symmetry and balance. Both Plato and Aristotle supported the objective judgement. Some, such as Immanuel Kant, took a middle path, holding that beauty is of a subjective nature, but there are qualities of beauty which have universal validity. * Classical and Modern Aesthetics The classical concepts behind aesthetics saw beauty in nature, and that art should mimic those qualities found in nature. Aristotle’s Poetics describes this idea, which he develops from Plato’s teachings.

Modern aesthetic ideas, including those of Kant, stress the creative and symbolic side of art — that nature does not always have to guide art for it to be beautiful. Ethics Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The term comes from the Greek word ethos, which means “character”. Ethics is a complement to Aesthetics in the philosophy field of Axiology. In philosophy, ethics studies the moral behavior in humans and how one should act.

Ethics may be divided into four major areas of study: Meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how their truth values (if any) may be determined; Normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action; Applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations; Descriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people’s beliefs about morality; Ethics seeks to resolve questions dealing with human morality—concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime.

Political philosophy Political philosophy is the study of such topics as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it should take and why, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

In a vernacular sense, the term “political philosophy” often refers to a general view, or specific ethic, political belief or attitude, about politics that does not necessarily belong to the technical discipline of philosophy. In short, political philosophy is the activity, as with all philosophy, whereby the conceptual apparatus behind such concepts as aforementioned are analyzed, in their history, intent, evolution and the like.

Social philosophy Social philosophy is the philosophical study of questions about social behavior (typically, of humans). Social philosophy addresses a wide range of subjects, from individual meanings to legitimacy of laws, from the social contract to criteria for revolution, from the functions of everyday actions to the effects of science on culture, from changes in human demographics to the collective order of a wasp’s nest.


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