To some, philosophy means wisdom, and to others knowledge, and to some others some other things; it varies. With a simple breakdown (Greek words ‘philo’ and ‘sophos’ meaning love and wisdom, respectively), however, philosophy turns out to be “the love of wisdom”.
The quest of man to locate hidden truths, attained basically by a lot of question asking, answering, problems resolving attempts called for the emergence of philosophy.
There are many different standard definitions of philosophy out there, only a few of which are widely accepted. For the purpose of our exploration, we shall be going by the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of philosophy as the pursuit of wisdom.
Philosophers are, thus, generally perceived as wiser people in society because they exhibit this trait of being obsessed with learning and anxious enough to learn, unlearn, and/or relearn. What’s more?
Branches of philosophy
If you ask to know what philosophy means then you should not also be given a simple definition but also an idea of what its scope looks like. We won’t go all the way in this piece, but basically the following are the major branches of philosophy:
Epistemology. Most people believe this is a core branch of philosophy. It is a combination of two words: Greek word ‘episteme’ meaning knowledge and logy ‘the study of’. So, epistemology is the study of knowledge. This branch of philosophy examines such concepts as sources of knowledge, the most reliable source of knowledge, and questions like what can we know?
Metaphysics. It is the aspect of philosophy that discusses and researches the reality of the natural world and explains the nature of being.
Aesthetics. Is beauty truly in the eye of the beholder? Well, if you study this part of philosophy that deals with the reality behind art and beauty, you’ll know more about this and other related ideas.
Axiology. This is the study of value. It can also be referred to as the theory of value. It is perturbed with understanding what is naturally valuable.
Political Philosophy. Self-defined. The coming together of the terms ‘political’ and ‘philosophy’ gives us something like ‘the philosophy of politics’. This branch of philosophy is concerned with everything regarding actual facts about governance. Plato, for one, wrote works that fit into this category.
Logic. Literally we perceive logic as reason, and we use it in our everyday life. That’s not far from the logic behind its concept in the field of philosophy too. It crystalizes the why for every proposition. Aristotle’s theory of Syllogism, for instance, was a sort of way to arrive at good conclusions judging from the validity of premises.
Ethics. Every society, and individual has a distinct sense of good and bad. What is good here may be bad in the next community, why so? The philosophy of ethics is concerned with the decryptification of the scope behind this. Ethics is about principles, doctrines, norms; the concept of good and wrong.
Why is philosophy important?
Philosophy may be important for a number of reasons but you want to consider the following as the focal of all:
– Developed Learning Speed. Since philosophy requires more involvement of the brain, studying it can help improve the ability of the brain in absorbing new ideas.
– Improved dialogue skills. Philosophers are built or learn to be rationally expressive enough because of the argumentative and linguistic nature of philosophy.
As a result, reading them or taking philosophy courses can enhance a person’s skills of dialoguing. In philosophy, you will learn to argue for the sake of learning and not for winning, all to make you converse better.
– Developed writing skills. Similar to the case of dialogue skills, since philosophy students are exposed to more words and have in their possession a better understanding of the concept of those words, becoming better writers is logically going to ensue, consequently.
– Enhancing Reasoning. Not even for the fact that philosophy is synonymous with reasoning—it can help boost the way a person thinks by constantly engaging them in independent reflection, hard-hit arguments, amongst others.
Finally, it is an interesting course of study. Philosophy is an interesting field that excites me specifically. It is full of mysterious ideas and discussions you cannot predicate. What’s more, I see philosophy as an eye-opening event.
What does philosophy mean in history?
What philosophy means in history is the study of the techniques used by historians to understand their materials—it is also the knowledge of the development of this historical process. Formally, the term for this is the philosophy of history. It was brought about in the 1760s by Voltaire.
The philosophy of history also has its peculiar branches, which include: hermeneutics, metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology —topics to be discussed extensively in a future publication.
This aspect of philosophy, by and large, deals with the study of the evolution of humans.
Does philosophy mean doctrine?
Yes, it does. Philosophy can be regarded as doctrine, and vice versa, but it may also depend on context of usage. In any case, both terms are synonymous jargons in their length and width.
While philosophy can be especially complicated for its broad concept, doctrine and philosophy both have characteristic features bordering on a set of personal or institutionalized beliefs observed by a person or a number of people.
For a better understanding of this topic and related concepts, I’d suggest you read our previous piece on philosophy synonyms.
What counts as philosophy?
One scholar once told me, ‘everyone is a philosopher in a way’. Why should I argue this when we all cling to certain personal vantage points?
The question of what really counts as philosophy is still up for debate considering not only the wide scope of the subject but also various definitions of it by researchers.
Say for example, if philosophy to me is a set of principles, then I won’t go wrong if I liken it to the ethos of a group of people. On the surface it sounds fine, but must what constitute this people’s ethos be things we perceive as rational?! If not, then we’d consider pseudophilosophy, which is equally not philosophical to some philosophers.
In conclusion, what counts as philosophy or what philosophy means may be determined by context, in my view, but basically it should be a logical and truthful idea. An activity of finding. Love of knowledge.Share