Western philosophy Essay
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Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.  Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.  In more casual speech, by extension, “philosophy” can refer to “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”.  The word “philosophy” comes from the Ancient Greek ????????? (philosophia), which literally means “love of wisdom”.
 The introduction of the terms “philosopher” and “philosophy” has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.  Contents [hide] 1 Areas of inquiry 1. 1 Epistemology 1. 2 Logic 1. 3 Metaphysics 1. 4 Moral and political philosophy 1. 5 Aesthetics 1. 6 Specialized branches 2 History 2. 1 Ancient philosophy 2. 1. 1 Egypt and Babylon 2. 1. 2 Ancient Chinese 2. 1. 3 Ancient Graeco-Roman 2. 1. 4 Ancient Indian 2. 1. 5 Ancient Persian 2. 2 5th–16th centuries 2. 2. 1 Europe 2. 2. 1. 1 Medieval 2. 2. 1. 2 Renaissance 2. 2. 2 East Asia 2. 2. 3 India 2. 2. 4 Middle East 2. 3 17th–20th centuries 2. 3.
1 Early modern philosophy 2. 3. 2 19th-century philosophy 2. 3. 3 20th-century philosophy 3 Major traditions 3. 1 German idealism 3. 2 Pragmatism 3. 3 Phenomenology 3. 4 Existentialism 3. 5 Structuralism and post-structuralism 3. 6 The analytic tradition 4 Applied philosophy 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 7.
1 Introductions 7. 2 Topical introductions 7. 3 Anthologies 7. 4 Reference works 8 External links Areas of inquiry Philosophy is divided into many sub-fields. These include epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics.  Some of the major areas of study are considered individually below.
Epistemology Main article: Epistemology Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, such as the relationships between truth, belief, and theories of justification. Skepticism is the position which questions the possibility of completely justifying any truth. The regress argument, a fundamental problem in epistemology, occurs when, in order to completely prove any statement P, its justification itself needs to be supported by another justification. This chain can do three possible options, all of which are unsatisfactory according to the Munchhausen trilemma.
One option is infinitism, where this chain of justification can go on forever. Another option is foundationalism, where the chain of justifications eventually relies on basic beliefs or axioms that are left unproven. The last option, such as in coherentism, is making the chain circular so that a statement is included in its own chain of justification. Rationalism is the emphasis on reasoning as a source of knowledge. Empiricism is the emphasis on observational evidence via sensory experience over other evidence as the source of knowledge.
Rationalism claims that every possible object of knowledge can be deduced from coherent premises without observation. Empiricism claims that at least some knowledge is only a matter of observation. For this, Empiricism often cites the concept of tabula rasa, where individuals are not born with mental content and that knowledge builds from experience or perception. Epistemological solipsism is the idea that the existence of the world outside the mind is an unresolvable question. Parmenides (fl. 500 BC) argued that it is impossible to doubt that thinking actually occurs.
But thinking must have an object, therefore something beyond thinking really exists. Parmenides deduced that what really exists must have certain properties—for example, that it cannot come into existence or cease to exist, that it is a coherent whole, that it remains the same eternally (in fact, exists altogether outside time). This is known as the third man argument. Plato (427–347 BC) combined rationalism with a form of realism. The philosopher’s work is to consider being, and the essence (ousia) of things. But the characteristic of essences is that they are universal.
The nature of a man, a triangle, a tree, applies to all men, all triangles, all trees. Plato argued that these essences are mind-independent “forms”, that humans (but particularly philosophers) can come to know by reason, and by ignoring the distractions of sense-perception. Modern rationalism begins with Descartes. Reflection on the nature of perceptual experience, as well as scientific discoveries in physiology and optics, led Descartes (and also Locke) to the view that we are directly aware of ideas, rather than objects. This view gave rise to three questions: Is an idea a true copy of the real thing that it represents?
Sensation is not a direct interaction between bodily objects and our sense, but is a physiological process involving representation (for example, an image on the retina). Locke thought that a “secondary quality” such as a sensation of green could in no way resemble the arrangement of particles in matter that go to produce this sensation, although he thought that “primary qualities” such as shape, size, number, were really in objects. How can physical objects such as chairs and tables, or even physiological processes in the brain, give rise to mental items such as ideas?
This is part of what became known as the mind-body problem. If all the contents of awareness are ideas, how can we know that anything exists apart from ideas? Descartes tried to address the last problem by reason. He began, echoing Parmenides, with a principle that he thought could not coherently be denied: I think, therefore I am (often given in his original Latin: Cogito ergo sum). From this principle, Descartes went on to construct a complete system of knowledge (which involves proving the existence of God, using, among other means, a version of the ontological argument).
 His view that reason alone could yield substantial truths about reality strongly influenced those philosophers usually considered modern rationalists (such as Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, and Christian Wolff), while provoking criticism from other philosophers who have retrospectively come to be grouped together as empiricists. Logic Main article: Logic Logic is the study of the principles of correct reasoning. Arguments use either deductive reasoning or inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is when, given certain statements (called premises), other statements (called conclusions) are unavoidably implied.
Rules of inferences from premises include the most popular method, modus ponens, where given “A” and “If A then B”, then “B” must be concluded. A common convention for a deductive argument is the syllogism. An argument is termed valid if its conclusion does indeed follow from its premises, whether the premises are true or not, while an argument is sound if its conclusion follows from premises that are true. Propositional logic uses premises that are propositions, which are declarations that are either true or false, while predicate logic uses more complex premises called formulae that contain variables.
These can be assigned values or can be quantified as to when they apply with the universal quantifier (always apply) or the existential quantifier (applies at least once). Inductive reasoning makes conclusions or generalizations based on probabilistic reasoning. For example, if “90% of humans are right-handed” and “Joe is human” then “Joe is probably right-handed”. Fields in logic include mathematical logic (formal symbolic logic) and philosophical logic. Metaphysics Main article: Metaphysics.
Metaphysics is the study of the most general features of reality, such as existence, time, the relationship between mind and body, objects and their properties, wholes and their parts, events, processes, and causation. Traditional branches of metaphysics include cosmology, the study of the world in its entirety, and ontology, the study of being. Within metaphysics itself there are a wide range of differing philosophical theories. Idealism, for example, is the belief that reality is mentally constructed or otherwise immaterial while realism holds that reality, or at least some part of it, exists independently of the mind.
Subjective idealism describes objects as no more than collections or “bundles” of sense data in the perceiver. The 18th century philosopher George Berkeley contended that existence is fundamentally tied to perception with the phrase Esse est aut percipi aut percipere or “To be is to be perceived or to perceive”.  In addition to the aforementioned views, however, there is also an ontological dichotomy within metaphysics between the concepts of particulars and universals as well. Particulars are those objects that are said to exist in space and time, as opposed to abstract objects, such as numbers.
Universals 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 serious debate within metaphysical philosophy. Realism is the philosophical position that universals do in fact exist, while nominalism is the negation, or denial of universals, abstract objects, or both.  Conceptualism holds that universals exist, but only within the mind’s perception.  The question of whether or not existence is a predicate has been discussed since the Early Modern period.
Essence is the set of attributes that make an object what it fundamentally is and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity. Moral and political philosophy Ethics, or “moral philosophy,” is concerned primarily with the question of the best way to live, and secondarily, concerning the question of whether this question can be answered. The main branches of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics.
Meta-ethics concerns the nature of ethical thought, such as the origins of the words good and bad, and origins of other comparative words of various ethical systems, whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how such truths could be known. Normative ethics are more concerned with the questions of how one ought to act, and what the right course of action is. This is where most ethical theories are generated. Lastly, applied ethics go beyond theory and step into real world ethical practice, such as questions of whether or not abortion is correct.
Ethics is also associated with the idea of morality, and the two are often interchangeable. One debate that has commanded the attention of ethicists in the modern era has been between consequentialism (actions are to be morally evaluated solely by their consequences) and deontology (actions are to be morally evaluated solely by consideration of agents’ duties, the rights of those whom the action concerns, or both). Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are famous for propagating utilitarianism, which is the idea that the fundamental moral rule is to strive toward the “greatest happiness for the greatest number”.
However, in promoting this idea they also necessarily promoted the broader doctrine of consequentialism. Adopting a position opposed to consequentialism, Immanuel Kant argued that moral principles were simply products of reason. Kant believed that the incorporation of consequences into moral deliberation was a deep mistake, since it denies the necessity of practical maxims in governing the working of the will. According to Kant, reason requires that we conform our actions to the categorical imperative, which is an absolute duty. An important 20th-century deontologist, W. D. Ross, argued for weaker forms of duties called prima facie duties.
More recent works have emphasized the role of character in ethics, a movement known as the aretaic turn (that is, the turn towards virtues). One strain of this movement followed the work of Bernard Williams. Williams noted that rigid forms of consequentialism and deontology demanded that people behave impartially. This, Williams argued, requires that people abandon their personal projects, and hence their personal integrity, in order to be considered moral. G. E. M. Anscombe, in an influential paper, “Modern Moral Philosophy” (1958), revived virtue ethics as an alternative to what was seen as the entrenched positions of Kantianism and
consequentialism. Aretaic perspectives have been inspired in part by research of ancient conceptions of virtue. For example, Aristotle’s ethics demands that people follow the Aristotelian mean, or balance between two vices; and Confucian ethics argues that virtue consists largely in striving for harmony with other people. Virtue ethics in general has since gained many adherents, and has been defended by such philosophers as Philippa Foot, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Rosalind Hursthouse. 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. Politics and ethics are traditionally inter-linked subjects, as both discuss the question of what is good and how people should live. From ancient times, and well beyond them, the roots of justification for political authority were inescapably tied to outlooks on human nature. In The Republic, Plato presented the argument that the ideal society would be run by a council of philosopher-kings, since those best at philosophy are best able to realize the good.
Even Plato, however, required philosophers to make their way in the world for many years before beginning their rule at the age of fifty. For Aristotle, humans are political animals (i. e. social animals), and governments are set up to pursue good for the community. Aristotle reasoned that, since the state (polis) was the highest form of community, it has the purpose of pursuing the highest good. Aristotle viewed political power as the result of natural inequalities in skill and virtue. Because of these differences, he favored an aristocracy of the able and virtuous.
For Aristotle, the person cannot be complete unless he or she lives in a community. His The Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics are meant to be read in that order. The first book addresses virtues (or “excellences”) in the person as a citizen; the second addresses the proper form of government to ensure that citizens will be virtuous, and therefore complete. Both books deal with the essential role of justice in civic life. Nicolas of Cusa rekindled Platonic thought in the early 15th century. He promoted democracy in Medieval Europe, both in his writings and in his organization of the Council of Florence.
Unlike Aristotle and the Hobbesian tradition to follow, Cusa saw human beings as equal and divine (that is, made in God’s image), so democracy would be the only just form of government. Cusa’s views are credited by some as sparking the Italian Renaissance, which gave rise to the notion of “Nation-States”. Later, Niccolo Machiavelli rejected the views of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas as unrealistic. The ideal sovereign is not the embodiment of the moral virtues; rather the sovereign does whatever is successful and necessary, rather than what is morally praiseworthy.
Thomas Hobbes also contested many elements of Aristotle’s views. For Hobbes, human nature is essentially anti-social: people are essentially egoistic, and this egoism makes life difficult in the natural state of things. Moreover, Hobbes argued, though people may have natural inequalities, these are trivial, since no particular talents or virtues that people may have will make them safe from harm inflicted by others. For these reasons, Hobbes concluded that the state arises from a common agreement to raise the community out of the state of nature.
This can only be done by the establishment of a sovereign, in which (or whom) is vested complete control over the community, and is able to inspire awe and terror in its subjects.  Many in the Enlightenment were unsatisfied with existing doctrines in political philosophy, which seemed to marginalize or neglect the possibility of a democratic state. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was among those who attempted to overturn these doctrines: he responded to Hobbes by claiming that a human is by nature a kind of “noble savage”, and that society and social contracts corrupt this nature. Another critic was John Locke.
In Second Treatise on Government he agreed with Hobbes that the nation-state was an efficient tool for raising humanity out of a deplorable state, but he argued that the sovereign might become an abominable institution compared to the relatively benign unmodulated state of nature.  Following the doctrine of the fact-value distinction, due in part to the influence of David Hume and his student Adam Smith, appeals to human nature for political justification were weakened. Nevertheless, many political philosophers, especially moral realists, still make use of some essential human nature as a basis for their arguments.
Marxism is derived from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Their idea that capitalism is based on exploitation of workers and causes alienation of people from their human nature, the historical materialism, their view of social classes, etc. , have influenced many fields of study, such as sociology, economics, and politics. Marxism inspired the Marxist school of communism, which brought a huge impact on the history of the 20th century. Aesthetics Main article: Aesthetics Aesthetics deals with beauty, art, enjoyment, sensory-emotional values, perception, and matters of taste and sentiment. Specialized branches.
Philosophy of language explores the nature, the origins, and the use of language. Philosophy of law (often called jurisprudence) explores the varying theories explaining the nature and the interpretations of the law in society. Philosophy of mind explores the nature of the mind, and its relationship to the body, and is typified by disputes between dualism and materialism. In recent years there has been increasing similarity between this branch of philosophy and cognitive science. Philosophy of religion Philosophy of science Metaphilosophy Many academic disciplines have also generated philosophical inquiry.
These include history, logic, and mathematics. History Main article: History of philosophy See also: Western philosophy, Eastern philosophy, and History of Western philosophy Further information: Philosophical progress Many societies have considered philosophical questions and built philosophical traditions based upon each other’s works. Eastern philosophy is organized by the chronological periods of each region. Historians of western philosophy usually divide the subject into three or more periods, the most important being ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, and modern philosophy.
 Ancient philosophy Main article: Ancient philosophy Egypt and Babylon Further information: Babylonian literature: Philosophy and Ancient Egyptian philosophy Main article: African philosophy There are authors who date the philosophical maxims of Ptahhotep before the 25th century. For instance, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Will Durant dates these writings as early as 2880 BCE within The Story of Civilization:
Our Oriental History. Durant claims that Ptahhotep could be considered the very first philosopher in virtue of having the earliest and surviving fragments of moral philosophy (i. e., “The Maxims of Ptah-Hotep”).  Ptahhotep’s grandson, Ptahhotep Tshefi, is traditionally credited with being the author of the collection of wise sayings known as The Maxims of Ptahhotep, whose opening lines attribute authorship to the vizier Ptahhotep:
Instruction of the Mayor of the city, the Vizier Ptahhotep, under the Majesty of King Isesi. The origins of Babylonian philosophy can be traced back to the wisdom of early Mesopotamia, which embodied certain philosophies of life, particularly ethics, in the forms of dialectic, dialogues, epic poetry, folklore, hymns, lyrics, prose, and proverbs.
The reasoning and rationality of the Babylonians developed beyond empirical observation.  The Babylonian text Dialog of Pessimism contains similarities to the agnostic thought of the sophists, the Heraclitean doctrine of contrasts, and the dialogues of Plato, as well as a precursor to the maieutic Socratic method of Socrates and Plato.  The Milesian philosopher Thales is also traditionally said to have studied philosophy in Mesopotamia. Ancient Chinese Philosophy has had a tremendous effect on Chinese civilization, and throughout East Asia.
The majority of Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States era, during a period known as the “Hundred Schools of Thought”, which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments.  It was during this era that the major philosophies of China, Confucianism, Mohism, Legalism, and Taoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.
Of the many philosophical schools of China, only Confucianism and Taoism existed after the Qin Dynasty suppressed any Chinese philosophy that was opposed to Legalism. Confucianism is humanistic, philosophy that believes that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavour especially including self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucianism focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics, the most basic of which are ren, yi, and li.
 Ren is an obligation of altruism and humaneness for other individuals within a community, yi is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good, and li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act within a community.  Taoism focuses on establishing harmony with the Tao, which is origin of and the totality of everything that exists. The word “Tao” (or “Dao”, depending on the romanization scheme) is usually translated as “way”, “path” or “principle”.
Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos (???? ); health and longevity; and wu wei, action through inaction. Harmony with the Universe, or the origin of it through the Tao, is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices. Ancient Graeco-Roman Ancient Graeco-Roman philosophy is a period of Western philosophy, starting in the 6th century [c. 585] BC to the 6th century AD.
It is usually divided into three periods: the pre-Socratic period, the period of Plato and Aristotle, and the post-Aristotelian (or Hellenistic) period. A fourth period that is sometimes added includes the Neoplatonic and Christian philosophers of Late Antiquity. The most important of the ancient philosophers (in terms of subsequent influence) are Plato and Aristotle.  Plato specifically, is credited as the founder of Western philosophy. The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said of Plato: “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. “ The main subjects of ancient philosophy are: understanding the fundamental causes and principles of the universe; explaining it in an economical way; the epistemological problem of reconciling the diversity and change of the natural universe, with the possibility of obtaining fixed and certain knowledge about it; questions about things that cannot be perceived by the senses, such as numbers, elements, universals, and gods.
Socrates is said to have been the initiator of more focused study upon the human things including the analysis of patterns of reasoning and argument and the nature of the good life and the importance of understanding and knowledge in order to pursue it; the explication of the concept of justice, and its relation to various political systems.  In this period the crucial features of the Western philosophical method were established: a critical approach to received or established views, and the appeal to reason and argumentation.
This includes Socrate’s dialectic method of inquiry, known as the Socratic method or method of “elenchus”, which he largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts such as the Good and Justice. To solve a problem, it would be broken down into a series of questions, the answers to which gradually distill the answer a person would seek. The influence of this approach is most strongly felt today in the use of the scientific method, in which hypothesis is the first stage. Ancient Indian Main article: Indian philosophy.
Further information: Hindu philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, Jain philosophy, and Upanishads The term Indian philosophy (Sanskrit: Darshanas), refers to any of several schools of philosophical thought that originated in the Indian subcontinent, including Hindu philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, and Jain philosophy. Having the same or rather intertwined origins, all of these philosophies have a common underlying themes of Dharma and Karma, and similarly attempt to explain the attainment of emancipation. They have been formalized and promulgated chiefly between 1000 BC to a few centuries AD.
India’s philosophical tradition dates back to the composition of the Upanisads in the later Vedic period (c. 1000-500 BCE). Subsequent schools (Skt: Darshanas) of Indian philosophy were identified as orthodox (Skt: astika) or non-orthodox (Skt: nastika) depending on whether they regarded the Vedas as an infallible source of knowledge.  By some classifications, there are six schools of orthodox Hindu philosophy and three heterodox schools. The orthodox are Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva mimamsa and Vedanta. The Heterodox are Jain, Buddhist and materialist (Carvaka).
Other classifications also include Pashupata, Saiva, Rasesvara and Pa? ini Darsana with the other orthodox schools.  Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative years, especially between 500 BC to 200 AD. Some like the Jain, Buddhist, Shaiva and Vedanta schools survived, while others like Samkhya and Ajivika did not, either being assimilated or going extinct. The Sanskrit term for “philosopher” is darsanika, one who is familiar with the systems of philosophy, or darsanas.
 In the history of the Indian subcontinent, following the establishment of a Vedic culture, the development of philosophical and religious thought over a period of two millennia gave rise to what came to be called the six schools of astika, or orthodox, Indian or Hindu philosophy. These schools have come to be synonymous with the greater religion of Hinduism, which was a development of the early Vedic religion. Ancient Persian Main article: Iranian philosophy Persian philosophy can be traced back as far as Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts, with their ancient Indo-Iranian roots.
These were considerably influenced by Zarathustra’s teachings. Throughout Iranian history and due to remarkable political and social influences such as the Macedonian, the Arab, and the Mongol invasions of Persia, a wide spectrum of schools of thought arose. These espoused a variety of views on philosophical questions, extending from Old Iranian and mainly Zoroastrianism-influenced traditions to schools appearing in the late pre-Islamic era, such as Manicheism and Mazdakism, as well as various post-Islamic schools.
Iranian philosophy after Arab invasion of Persia is characterized by different interactions with the old Iranian philosophy, the Greek philosophy and with the development of Islamic philosophy. Illuminationism and the transcendent theosophy are regarded as two of the main philosophical traditions of that era in Persia. Zoroastrianism has been identified as one of the key early events in the development of philosophy.  5th–16th centuries Europe Medieval.
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages, roughly extending from the Christianization of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance.  Medieval philosophy is defined partly by the rediscovery and further development of classical Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate the then widespread sacred doctrines of Abrahamic religion (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) with secular learning.
The history of western European medieval philosophy is traditionally divided into two main periods: the period in the Latin West following the Early Middle Ages until the 12th century, when the works of Aristotle and Plato were preserved and cultivated; and the “golden age” of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries in the Latin West, which witnessed the culmination of the recovery of ancient philosophy, and significant developments in the field of philosophy of religion, logic and metaphysics.
The medieval era was disparagingly treated by the Renaissance humanists, who saw it as a barbaric “middle” period between the classical age of Greek and Roman culture, and the “rebirth” or renaissance of classical culture. Yet this period of nearly a thousand years was the longest period of philosophical development in Europe, and possibly the richest. Jorge Gracia has argued that “in intensity, sophistication, and achievement, the philosophical flowering in the thirteenth century could be rightly said to rival the golden age of Greek philosophy in the fourth century B. C.
“ Some problems discussed throughout this period are the relation of faith to reason, the existence and unity of God, the object of theology and metaphysics, the problems of knowledge, of universals, and of individuation. Philosophers from the Middle Ages include the Christian philosophers Augustine of Hippo, Boethius, Anselm, Gilbert of Poitiers, Peter Abelard, Roger Bacon, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Jean Buridan; the Jewish philosophers Maimonides and Gersonides; and the Muslim philosophers Alkindus, Alfarabi, Alhazen, Avicenna, Algazel, Avempace, Abubacer, Ibn Khaldun, and Averroes.
The medieval tradition of Scholasticism continued to flourish as late as the 17th century, in figures such as Francisco Suarez and John of St. Thomas. Aquinas, father of Thomism, was immensely influential in Catholic Europe, placed a great emphasis on reason and argumentation, and was one of the first to use the new translation of Aristotle’s metaphysical and epistemological writing. His work was a significant departure from the Neoplatonic and Augustinian thinking that had dominated much of early Scholasticism.
Renaissance The Renaissance (“rebirth”) was a period of transition between the Middle Ages and modern thought, in which the recovery of classical texts helped shift philosophical interests away from technical studies in logic, metaphysics, and theology towards eclectic inquiries into morality, philology, and mysticism.  The study of the classics and the humane arts generally, such as history and literature, enjoyed a scholarly interest hitherto unknown in Christendom, a tendency referred to as humanism.
 Displacing the medieval interest in metaphysics and logic, the humanists followed Petrarch in making man and his virtues the focus of philosophy.  The study of classical philosophy also developed in two new ways. On the one hand, the study of Aristotle was changed through the influence of Averroism. The disagreements between these Averroist Aristotelians, and more orthodox catholic Aristotelians such as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas eventually contributed to the development of a “humanist Aristotelianism” developed in the Renaissance, as exemplified in the thought of Pietro Pomponazzi and Giacomo Zabarella.
Secondly, as an alternative to Aristotle, the study of Plato and the Neoplatonists became common. This was assisted by the rediscovery of works which had not been well known previously in Western Europe. Notable Renaissance Platonists include Nicholas of Cusa, and later Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.  The Renaissance also renewed interest in anti-.