Branches of philosophy
The following branches are the main areas of study:
• Metaphysics investigates the nature of being and the world. Traditional branches are cosmology and ontology. • Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, and whether knowledge is possible. Among its central concerns has been the challenge posed by skepticism and the relationships between truth, belief, and justification. • Ethics, or 'moral philosophy', is concerned with questions of how persons ought to act or if such questions are answerable. The main branches of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Meta-ethics concerns the nature of ethical thought, comparison of various ethical systems, whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how such truths could be known. Ethics is also associated with the idea of morality. Plato's early dialogues include a search for definitions of virtue. • Political philosophy is the study of government and the relationship of individuals and communities to the state. It includes questions about justice, the good, law, property, and the rights and obligations of the citizen. • Aesthetics deals with beauty, art, enjoyment, sensory-emotional values, perception, and matters of taste and sentiment. • Logic deals with patterns of thinking that lead from true premises to true conclusions, originally developed in Ancient Greece. Beginning in the late 19th century, mathematicians such as Frege focused on a mathematical treatment of logic, and today the subject of logic has two broad divisions: mathematical logic (formal symbolic logic) and what is now called philosophical logic. • Philosophy of mind deals with the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body, and is typified by disputes between dualism and materialism. In recent years there have been increasing similarities, between this branch of philosophy and cognitive science. • Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. Most academic subjects have a philosophy, for example the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of law, and the philosophy of history. In addition, a range of academic subjects have emerged to deal with areas which would have historically been the subject of philosophy. These include psychology, anthropology and science.
 Western philosophy
Main article: Western philosophy
Main article: History of Western philosophy
The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras (see Diogenes Laertius: "De vita et moribus philosophorum", I, 12; Cicero: "Tusculanae disputationes", V, 8-9). The ascription is based on a passage in a lost work of Herakleides Pontikos, a disciple of Aristotle. It is considered to be part of the widespread legends of Pythagoras of this time. "Philosopher" replaced the word "sophist" (from sophoi), which was used to describe "wise men", teachers of rhetoric, who were important in Athenian democracy. The history of philosophy is customarily divided into six periods: Ancient philosophy, Medieval philosophy, Renaissance philosophy, Early and Late Modern philosophy and Contemporary philosophy.
 Ancient philosophy (c. 600 B.C.–c. A.D. 500)
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Main article: Ancient philosophy
Ancient philosophy is the philosophy of the Graeco-Roman world from the sixth century [circa 585] B.C. to the fourth century A.D. It is...
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