Philosophy is a study that includes various diverse subfields such as aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, logic, and metaphysics. Various philosophical traditions use different methods and include different topics in their study. Some, for example, include politics, physics, or religion. The fundamental method of philosophy involves the systematic use of critical reasoning to evaluate arguments in defence of assertions of belief or opinion.
The term philosophy comes from the Greek word "Φιλοσοφία" (philo-sophia), which means "love of wisdom". The term is notoriously difficult to define (see definition of philosophy) because of the diverse range of ideas that have been labeled as a philosophy. The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy defines it as the study of "the most fundamental and general concepts and principles involved in thought, action, and reality". The Penguin Encyclopedia says that philosophy differs from science in that philosophy's questions cannot be answered empirically, and from religion in that philosophy allows no place for faith or revelation. However, these points are called into question by the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, which states: "the late 20th-century... prefers to see philosophical reflection as continuous with the best practice of any field of intellectual enquiry." Indeed, many of the speculations of early philosophers in the field of natural philosophy eventually formed the basis for modern scientific explanations on a variety of subjects.
Informally, a "philosophy" may refer to a general world view or to a specific ethic or belief.
1 Branches of philosophy
2 History of philosophy
2.1 Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy
2.2 Medieval philosophy
2.3 Eastern philosophy
3 Modern philosophy
3.1 Rationalism and empiricism
3.2 Kantian philosophy and the rise of idealism
3.3 American pragmatism
3.4 The prominence of logic
3.5 Phenomenology and hermeneutics
3.7 The Analytic tradition
3.8 Analytic and continental
4 Other traditions
4.1 Applied philosophy
6 Further reading
6.2 Topical introductions
6.4 Reference works
7 See also
7.1 Areas of philosophy Philosophy of:
8 External links
Branches of philosophy
There is no universal agreement about which subjects are the main branches of philosophy. In The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant lists logic, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and metaphysics, but there are many places where these subjects overlap, and many philosophical ideas that cannot be neatly put into one of these categories.
Each branch has its own particular questions. Logic asks: How do we distinguish arguments from premises to conclusions as valid or invalid? Epistemology asks: Is knowledge possible? How do we know what we know? Ethics asks: Is there a difference between morally right and wrong actions, values, or institutions? Which actions are right and which are wrong? Are values absolute or relative? How is it best to live? Is there a normative value on which all other values depend? Are values 'in' the world (like tables and chairs) and if not, how should we understand their ontological status? Aesthetics asks: What is beauty? And metaphysics asks: What is reality? What exists? Do things exist independently of perception?
Outside these five broad categories are other areas of philosophical inquiry. Politics (seen by Aristotle as an extension of ethics), physics (in the sense of the nature of matter and energy), and religion are all fields considered by philosophers.
History of philosophy
Main articles: History of philosophy, History of Western philosophy, and Eastern philosophy
The history of Western philosophy is traditionally divided into three eras: Ancient philosophy, Medieval philosophy, and Modern philosophy. Some philosophers have argued...
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