What is Philosophy‌?

  • Philosophy means “the love of wisdom”. Greek roots philo (love) and sophy (wisdom/knowledge)
  • Philosophy is a separate field of study because it focuses on questions that other fields don’t ask. Most studies are external; philosophy is an internal examination of highly abstract and often self-referential questions.
  • Traditional scientific disciplines are concerned with how things work; philosophy is concerned with why.
  • The root of all other academic endeavors is philosophy.
  • Contradictory nature of philosophy. The paradox is that philosophy seeks to uncover “The Truth” about nature, yet acknowledges multiple potential interpretations.
  • The best way to think of philosophy is in terms of questions:
    • What is the purpose of life‌
    • What is the nature of morality‌
    • What is the nature of existence‌
    • Is there a God‌
    • What is justice‌?
    • Can governments or humans create or even live in truly just institutions‌?


The Big Three Shifts in Western Philosophy

  • The revolutionary shift from religious and mythological understanding to a “rational” way of thinking that occurred in ancient Greece. (Socrates)
  • The Epistemological Revolution. Until this time (1600s) knowledge was taken for granted. The reliability of the human mind was assumed. Descartes forced thinkers to consider the possibility perhaps we could not rely on our ability to “know”.
  • The Linguistic Revolution. Until this time (early 20th century) language was taken for granted. Wittgenstein questioned the reliability of language and how it impacts our perception of the world.


Six Primary Divisions of Philosophy

  • Logic-reason and thinking
  • Epistemology-the study of knowledge
  • Ethics-The study of human duty
  • Metaphysics- The branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things—being, substance, essence, time, space
  • Political Philosophy-The study of governments and human constructs to achieve justice.
  • Aesthetics-study of beauty and art