What is Philosophy?

Published 11 Apr 2017

Table of content


Perhaps the fundamental unifying concept in the field of philosophy is the consensus of the literary meaning of philosophy. ‘Love of wisdom’ is the literary meaning of philosophy. it can also be taken as the activity that people go through when trying to unravel the fundamental truth about themselves, the environment in which they reside. Philosophers also go another step to study the interaction between the people and the world and also the interaction that people have with one another. The philosopher is continually raising questions and trying to answer them, and also striving to answer to some of the most rudimentary of questions that humans seek an answer to. It seems as if philosophers are seeking to provide answers to some of the questions that people seek answers for.

Historical perspective

The historical angle to the development of philosophy points out the fact that the quest for humans to learn the “truth” took place within the religious framework. The truth was derived from activities that were considered sacred. Certain individuals were looked up to in order to provide spiritual leadership. They are chosen based on their purported access to the supernatural realm. However, in ancient Greece, Thales and his successors Anaximander and Anaximenes; collectively referred to as the Milesian philosophers began to conduct enquiries through observation and through logical reasoning, rather than dogmatically following the prevailing tradition of seeking truth through the divine being. This can be viewed as applying the scientific method of research. These ancient philosophers were doing the work of today’s mathematicians, scientists and philosophers all together. However, as time went on, the fields of mathematics and science emerged from ancient philosophy, leaving the modern field of philosophy. In today’s world, modern philosophy is not considered a pure science as such, because philosophers often address speculative issues without experimental tests. They then go on to formulate hypotheses which provide answers to these issues.

Branches of philosophy

there are traditionally four branches of ohilosophy. they are:

  • Epistemoloty,
  • Metaphysics,
  • Logic and
  • Ethics.

deals with the provision of an intellectual way of differentiating between good and bad reasoning. logic creates an awareness as to the sensitivity of out statements even when another person would consider it as inconseqential. it helps us to avoid adopting beliefs that lack adequate reasoning.

It seeks to formulate rules that guide moral decisions. It creates awareness in us of what our moral obligations are to ourselves and to others. It seeks rational ways of solving moral disagreements.

Deals with the concept of reality, seeking to determine what is real and what is not. Metaphysicians reason about things like: the level of existence of abstract things and how the brain is able to generate minds.

Epistemology: studies the nature and scope of knowledge. It concerns itself with such issues as the meaning and nature of truth.

Special fields of philosophy

Several branches have grown from the four traditional core areas.

Both Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Mind are branches of metaphysics. Philosophy of religion tries to understand the concept of God among other things. The philosophy of the mind on the other hand, studies the relationship of the mental to the physical.

Ethics also has its own sub-fields. Political Philosophy elaborates on the nature and extent of governmental control of individuals, equality before the law among other things.
Aesthetics is the philosophy of art. It concerns itself with the evaluation and interpretation of art and generally the beauty of life.



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