Both reject the Cartesian and empiricist traditions that had dominated philosophy since the early modern period, and both also reject the "obsession with psychological explanation " that pervaded the logic and method of idealist philosophy. What underlies the Analytic tradition culminating with thinkers such as Bertrand Russell , is the view originally defended by Ockham that philosophical error arises from misunderstandings generated by language. According to analytic philosophers, the true meaning of ordinary sentences is "concealed by their grammatical form," and we must translate them into their true form understood as their logical form in order to clarify them.
Both traditions tend to strongly reject any claim to certain knowledge about a given reality. Their dominance on the contemporary philosophical scene creates an atmosphere that is contrary to any affirmation of dogmatic belief or even the attempt to elaborate a worldview claiming to give definitive answers to fundamental questions. Ironically, the main actors on the contemporary philosophical arena have often been challenged for their dogmatic affirmation that certainty is impossible and they have sometimes been accused of promoting personal views under the cover of an overall criticism of established views.
Although the word "philosophy" originates in the Western tradition, many figures in the history of other cultures have addressed similar topics in similar ways. The philosophers of the Far East are discussed in Eastern philosophy, while the philosophers of North Africa and the Near East, because of their strong interactions with Europe, are usually considered part of Western Philosophy. Many societies have considered philosophical questions and built philosophical traditions based upon each other's works.
Eastern and Middle Eastern philosophical traditions have influenced Western philosophers. Russian, Jewish, Islamic and recently Latin American philosophical traditions have contributed to, or been influenced by, Western philosophy, yet each has retained a distinctive identity.
The differences between traditions are often well captured by consideration of their favored historical philosophers, and varying stress on ideas, procedural styles, or written language. The subject matter and dialogues of each can be studied using methods derived from the others, and there are significant commonalities and exchanges between them. In the history of the Indian subcontinent, following the establishment of an Aryan—Vedic culture, the development of philosophical and religious thought over a period of two millennia gave rise to what came to be called the six schools of astika , or orthodox, Indian or Hindu philosophy.
These schools have come to be synonymous with the greater religion of Hinduism. The origins of Hindu philosophy are to be traced in Vedic speculations circa B. Other major texts with philosophical implications include the Upanishads , the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutra, from circa B. Hindu philosophy constitutes an integral part of the culture of Southern Asia, and is the first of the Dharmic philosophies which were influential throughout the Far East. The great diversity in thought and practice of Hinduism is nurtured by its liberal universalism. Centuries before the western notably Greek tradition developed its own forms of philosophical speculation, India already had well-developed schools of philosophy.
Most followed spiritual and idealistic lines involving speculation about the unity in diversity, giving Hindu polytheism a clear theistic bent. In these forms of speculation, Brahman was often seen as the underlying, unitary and universal Being of which the various divinities were mere expressions. At the same time, Brahman was often seen as being ultimately one with Atman , the equivalent of the human soul.
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Nevertheless, atheistic and materialistic philosophy also existed in the same environment. The extent of the direct link between this philosophical speculation and the later Greek philosophy is a matter of dispute. An influence of Indian thought on Middle Eastern, including Hebrew, thought has also been suggested.
What is certain is that, to one degree or another, the Ancient Hindu tradition and the Ancient though less ancient Greek tradition, being both part of the Indo-European civilization have interacted, with India being the source. Plato in particular is often said to have been under the influence of the Hindu wisdom tradition. Persian philosophy can be traced back as far as Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts, with their ancient Indo-Iranian roots. These were considerably influenced by Zarathustra 's teachings. Throughout Iranian history and due to remarkable political and social influences such as the Macedonian , the Arab, and the Mongol invasions of Persia, a wide spectrum of schools of thought arose.
These espoused a variety of views on philosophical questions, extending from Old Iranian and mainly Zoroastrianism -influenced traditions to schools appearing in the late pre-Islamic era, such as Manicheism and Mazdakism, as well as various post-Islamic schools. Iranian philosophy after Arab invasion of Persia is characterized by different interactions with the Old Iranian philosophy, the Greek philosophy and with the development of Islamic philosophy.
The Illumination School and the Transcendent Philosophy are regarded as two of the main philosophical traditions of that era in Persia. Philosophy has had a tremendous effect on Chinese civilization, and East Asia as a whole. Many of the great philosophical schools were formulated during the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period , and came to be known as the Hundred Schools of Thought. The four most influential of these were Confucianism , Daoism , Mohism , and Legalism. Later on, during the Tang Dynasty , Buddhism from India also became a prominent philosophical and religious discipline.
It should be noted that Eastern thought, unlike Western philosophy, did not express a clear distinction between philosophy and religion. Like Western philosophy, Chinese philosophy covers a broad and complex range of thought, possessing a multitude of schools that address every branch and subject area of philosophy.
Of all the Chinese philosophies, however, it is quite safe to say Confucianism has had the greatest impact on East Asia. His philosophy focused in the fields of ethics and politics; emphasizing greatly on personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity.
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It could be debatably said that Confucianism is most responsible for shaping the Chinese culture and state during Imperial China. Throughout history, Chinese philosophy has been molded to fit the prevailing school of thought in China. The Chinese schools of philosophy, with the exception of the period during the Qin dynasty, have been relatively tolerant of one another. Instead of competition with one another, they generally have cooperated and shared ideas, which they would usually incorporate into their own. For example, Neo-Confucianism was a revived version of old Confucianism principles that appeared around the Ming Dynasty with Buddhist, Taoist, and Legalist aspects.
During the Industrial and Modern Ages, Chinese philosophy has also began to integrate concepts of Western philosophy as steps for modernization. Democracy , republicanism, and industrialism attempted to be incorporated into the Chinese philosophy by Sun Yat-sen at the beginning of the twentieth century. Mao Zedong added Marxism. Like Japan , Chinese philosophy has become somewhat of a melting pot of ideas. It accepts new concepts, while holding on to old beliefs. Other philosophical traditions, such as African philosophy, are rarely considered by foreign academia.
Since emphasis is mainly placed on Western philosophy as a reference point, the study, preservation and dissemination of valuable, but lesser known, non-Western philosophical works face many obstacles. In the post-colonial period, different images of what could be argued as "African" Philosophy from the level of epistemology have risen. Momoh, and Chinweizu. The philosophy of the modern and contemporary African world, including the diaspora, is often known as Africana Philosophy. Rationalism is any view emphasizing the role or importance of human reason.
Extreme rationalism tries to base all knowledge on reason alone. Rationalism typically starts from premises that cannot coherently be denied, then attempts by logical steps to deduce every possible object of knowledge. The first rationalist, in this broad sense, is often held to be Parmenides fl.
But thinking must have an object, therefore something beyond thinking really exists. Zeno of Elea born c. Plato — B.
The philosopher's work is to consider being, and the essence of things. But the characteristic of essences is that they are universal. The nature of a man, a triangle, a tree, applies to all men, all triangles, all trees. Modern rationalism begins with Descartes. Reflection on the nature of perceptual experience, as well as scientific discoveries in physiology and optics, led Descartes and also Locke to the view that we are directly aware of ideas, rather than objects.
This view gave rise to three questions:. In , in Meditations on First Philosophy, he used this method of doubt in an attempt to establish what knowledge is most certain. He chose as the foundation of his philosophy the famous statement Cogito ergo sum "I think, therefore I am". He then attempted to rebuild a system of knowledge based on this single supposedly indubitable fact. This involves proving the existence of God, using, among other means, a version of the ontological argument.
Empiricism , in contrast to rationalism, downplays or dismisses the ability of reason alone to yield knowledge of the world, preferring to base any knowledge we have on our senses. John Locke propounded the classic empiricist view in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in , developing a form of naturalism and empiricism on roughly scientific and Newtonian principles. Hume's work A Treatise of Human Nature combined empiricism with a spirit of skepticism. Other philosophers who made major contributions to empiricism include Thomas Hobbes and George Berkeley Bishop Berkeley.
During this era, religious ideas played a mixed role in the struggles that preoccupied secular philosophy. Bishop Berkeley 's famous idealist refutation of key tenets of Isaac Newton is a case of an Enlightenment philosopher who drew substantially from religious ideas. The restricted interests of many of the philosophers of the time foreshadow the separation and specialization of different areas of philosophy that would occur in the 20th century.
Kant's intention with this work was to look at what we know and then consider what must be true about the way we know it. One major theme was that there are fundamental features of reality that escape our direct knowledge because of the natural limits of the human faculties. Kant's philosophy, known as transcendental idealism , would later be made more abstract and more general, in the movement known as German idealism , a type of absolute idealism.
German idealism rose to popularity with G. Hegel 's publication in of Phenomenology of Spirit. In that work, Hegel asserts that the aim of philosophy is to spot the contradictions apparent in human experience which arise, for instance, out of the recognition of the self as both an active, subjective witness and a passive object in the world and to get rid of these contradictions by making them compatible.
Hegel believed that every thesis creates its own antithesis, and that out of the two arises a synthesis, a process known as the "Hegelian dialectic. The late nineteenth century brought about the rise of a new philosophy in the New World. Charles Peirce and William James are considered to be the co-founders of loosely allied schools of pragmatism , which holds that the truth of beliefs does not consist in their correspondence with reality, but in their usefulness and efficacy.
It led to what would later be called instrumentalism , the idea that what is important for a good theory is how useful it is, not how well it represents reality. Since the usefulness of any belief at any time might be contingent on circumstance, Peirce and James conceptualized final truth as that which would be established only by the future, final settlement of all opinion. Though not widely recognized under the term "pragmatist," philosophers like Henri Bergson and G. Moore shared many of the same foundational assumptions with the pragmatists.
Pragmatism has recently been taken in new directions by Richard Rorty and Hilary Putnam. Critics have accused pragmatism of falling victim to a simple fallacy: because something that is true proves useful, that usefulness is the basis for its truth. With the publication of Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead's Principia Mathematica in , mathematical logic attracted the interest of many philosophers.
With this increased interest in mathematical logic came the rise in popularity for the view known as logical positivism and related theories, all of which shared a commitment to the reliability of empirical tests. Philosophers such as Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach considered only confirmable or falsifiable claims to be genuine philosophy; anything that could not be deduced from testable claims was considered mere superstition or dogma. At the same time that logic was coming to prominence in America and Britain, a separate movement occurred in continental Europe. Under the influence of Franz Brentano , Edmund Husserl developed a new method to study human problems in his Logical Investigations and Ideas The method, known as phenomenology , was used to examine the details of human experience and consciousness in order to observe the most basic facts of human existence; the examination included not just observations of the way the world appears but observations of one's own thoughts, and when and how they occur.
An important part of Husserl's phenomenological project was to show that all conscious acts are directed at or about objective content, a feature that Husserl called intentionality. Phenomenology later achieved international fame through the work of such philosophers as Martin Heidegger formerly Husserl's research assistant , Maurice Merleau-Ponty , and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Indeed, through the work of Heidegger and Sartre, Husserl's focus on subjective experience influenced aspects of existentialism. Heidegger expanded the study of phenomenology to elaborate a philosophical hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is a method of interpreting texts by drawing out the meaning of the text in the context it was written in. Heidegger stressed two new elements of philosophical hermeneutics: that the reader brings out the meaning of the text in the present, and that the tools of hermeneutics can be used to interpret more than just texts e.
Existentialism is a philosophical movement that rejects any predetermined role for human beings. Unlike tools, which are designed in order to fill some preconceived role for example, a knife's preconceived role, or essence , is to cut , human beings are capable, to some extent at least, of deciding for themselves what constitutes their own essence. Their influence, however, has extended beyond existentialist thought.
Religious thinkers were among those influenced by Kierkegaard. Two of the targets of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche's writings were the philosophical systems of Hegel and Schopenhauer respectively, which they had each admired in their youths. Kierkegaard thought Hegel ignored or excluded the inner subjective life of living human beings, while Nietzsche thought Schopenhauer's pessimism led people to live an ascetic, or self-hating, life.
Nietzsche proposed perspectivism , which is the view that truth depends on individual perspectives. Influence notably by Kierkegaard, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger is generally considered an existentialist thinker and one of the key figures in 20th century thought. In Being and Time , he presented a method of rooting philosophical explanations in human existence Dasein to be analysed in terms of existential categories.
Karl Jaspers is another important German existentialist philosopher. Sartre became the best-known proponent of existentialism, exploring it not only in theoretical works such as Being and Nothingness, but also in plays and novels. Sartre, along with Albert Camus , Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir , all represented an avowedly atheistic branch of existentialism, which is now more closely associated with their ideas of the novel nausea, contingency, bad faith, and the absurd than with Kierkegaard's spiritual angst.
Nevertheless, the focus on the individual human being, responsible before the universe for the authenticity of his or her existence, is common to all these thinkers. The term analytic philosophy roughly designates a group of philosophical methods that stress clarity of meaning above all other criteria. The philosophy developed as a critique of Hegel and his followers in particular, and of speculative philosophy in general. Some schools in the group include 20th-century realism , logical atomism, logical positivism , and ordinary language.
The motivation is to have philosophical studies go beyond personal opinion and begin to have the cogency of mathematical proofs. In , Ludwig Wittgenstein published his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which gave a rigidly "logical" account of linguistic and philosophical issues. At the time, he understood most of the problems of philosophy as mere puzzles of language, which could be solved by clear thought. Years later he would reverse a number of the positions he had set out in the Tractatus, notably in his second major work, Philosophical Investigations Investigations encouraged the development of "ordinary language philosophy," which was promoted by Gilbert Ryle , J.
Austin, and a few others.
The "ordinary language philosophy" thinkers shared a common outlook with many older philosophers Jeremy Bentham , Ralph Waldo Emerson , and John Stuart Mill , and it was this style of philosophical inquiry that characterized English-language philosophy for the second half of the twentieth century.
The implied outlook for "ordinary language philosophy" is that philosophy is thus not a unified whole but a set of unrelated problems. Great thinkers whose work indicates an acceptance of this general outlook include Albert Einstein , Sigmund Freud , P. Analytic philosophy in general considers that a good approach to philosophy must itself be based on a careful examination of the meaning of language. One debate that has dominated the attention of ethicists in the history of the modern era has been between consequentialism the idea that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action and deontology that decisions should be made solely or primarily by considering one's duties and the rights of others.
Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are famous for propagating utilitarianism , which is the idea that the fundamental moral rule is to strive toward the "greatest happiness for the greatest number. In contrast to consequentialism, Immanuel Kant argued that moral principles were simply products of reason.
Kant believed that the incorporation of consequences into moral deliberation was a deep mistake, since it would deny the necessity of practical maxims to the working of the will.
According to Kant, reason requires that we conform our actions to the categorical imperative , which is an absolute duty unrelated to possible consequences. An important 20th-century deontologist, W. Ross , argued for weaker forms of duties called prima facie duties. More recent works have emphasized the role of character in ethics, a movement known as the aretaic turn that is, the turn towards virtues. One strain of this movement followed the work of Bernard Williams.
Williams noted that rigid forms of both consequentialism and deontology demanded that people behave impartially. This, Williams argued, requires that people abandon their personal projects, and hence their personal integrity, in order to be considered moral. Anscombe , in an influential paper, "Modern Moral Philosophy" , revived virtue ethics , inspired by Aristotle's ethics, as an alternative to what was seen as the entrenched positions of Kantianism and consequentialism. Virtue ethics has since gained some adherence and has been defended by such philosophers as Philippa Foot, Alasdair MacIntyre and Rosalind Hursthouse.
Based on a consideration of their approaches, these three currents in ethical thought can be seen as concurring, rather than conflicting with each other, at least on a very general level. While deontology focuses on the motivation, utilitarianism focuses on the results, and virtue ethics on the moral qualities required to achieve these results through proper motivation. From ancient times, and well beyond them, the roots of justification for political authority were inescapably tied to outlooks on human nature.
Plato declared that the ideal society would be run by an oligarchy of philosopher-kings, since those best at philosophy are best able to realize the good. Even Plato, however, required philosophers to make their way in the world for many years before beginning their rule at the age of fifty. For Aristotle , humans are social animals, and governments are set up in order to pursue good for the community.
Aristotle reasoned that, since the state polis was the highest form of community, it has the purpose of pursuing the highest good. Aristotle understood political power to be the result of natural inequalities in skill and virtue. Because of these differences, he favored an aristocracy of the able and virtuous meritocracy. For Aristotle, the person cannot be complete unless he or she lives in a community. Nicolas of Cusa rekindled Platonic thought in the early 15th century.
He promoted democracy in Medieval Europe, both in his writings and in his organization of the Council of Florence. Unlike Aristotle and the Hobbesian tradition to follow, Cusa saw human beings as equal and divine that is, made in God's image , so democracy would be the only just form of government.
Cusa's views are credited by some as sparking the Italian Renaissance, which gave rise to the notion of "Nation-States. The ideal sovereign is not the embodiment of the moral virtues; rather the sovereign does whatever is successful and necessary, not what is morally praiseworthy. Thomas Hobbes also contested many elements of Aristotle's views. For Hobbes, human nature is anti-social: people are essentially egoistic, and this egoism makes life difficult in the natural state of things.
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Moreover, Hobbes argued, though people may have natural inequalities, these are trivial, since no particular talents or virtues that people may have will make them safe from harm inflicted by others. For these reasons, Hobbes concluded that the state arises from a common agreement to raise the community out of the state of nature. This can only be done by the establishment of a sovereign, in which or whom is vested complete control over the community, and which is able to inspire awe and terror in its subjects.
Many in the Enlightenment were unsatisfied with existing doctrines in political philosophy, which seemed to marginalize or neglect the possibility of a democratic state. One attempt to overturn these doctrines was that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau , who responded to Hobbes by claiming that a human is by nature a kind of "noble savage," and that society and social contracts corrupt this nature. In his Second Treatise on Government John Locke agreed with Hobbes that the nation-state was an efficient tool for raising humanity out of a deplorable state, but argued that the sovereign may become an abominable institution compared to the relatively benign state of nature.
Following the doctrine of the fact-value distinction, due in part to the influence of David Hume and his student Adam Smith , appeals to human nature for political justification were weakened. Nevertheless, many political philosophers, especially moral realists, still make use of some essential human nature as a basis for their arguments.
Though often seen as a wholly abstract field, philosophy is not without practical applications. The most obvious applications are those in ethics — applied ethics in particular — and in political philosophy. In the field of the philosophy of education, progressive education as championed by John Dewey has had a profound impact on educational practices in the United States in the twentieth century. Carl von Clausewitz 's political philosophy of war has had a profound effect on statecraft, international politics and military strategy in the twentieth century, especially in the years around World War II.
Other important applications can be found in epistemology , which aid in understanding the notions of what knowledge, evidence, and justified belief are. The philosophy of science discusses the underpinnings of the scientific method. Aesthetics can help to interpret discussions of art. Ontology , even within the artificial intelligence definition, has had important consequences for logic and computer science.
Deep ecology and animal rights examine the moral situation of humans as occupants of a world that has non-human occupants to consider also. Aesthetics can help to interpret discussions of music , literature, the plastic arts, and the whole artistic dimension of life.
In general, the various "philosophies of…" such as the philosophy of law, can provide workers in their respective fields with a deeper understanding of the theoretical or conceptual underpinnings of their fields. Often philosophy is seen as an investigation into an area not understood well enough to be its own branch of knowledge. What were once philosophical pursuits have evolved into the modern day fields of psychology , sociology , linguistics, and economics among others. What should, and what should not, be counted as philosophy, has been heavily debated by many philosophers through the ages.
See also pseudophilosophy. Relativists may claim that any statement can be counted as a philosophical statement, as there is no objective way to disqualify it of being so. Also, the very open-minded nature of philosophy makes many people skeptical when it comes to limiting the concept of philosophy to something tangible and not something open-ended. However, several philosophers or philosophical directions have had ideas about what philosophy is and what it shouldn't be.
Plato , or the protagonist in his dialogues, Socrates , who arguably coined the term, held up a number of virtues for anyone who wanted to call themselves a philosopher. Amongst other things, he rejected that rhetorics had a place in philosophy, most famously in Gorgias.
The logical positivists denied the soundness of metaphysics and traditional philosophy, and affirmed that statements about metaphysics, religion and ethics are devoid of cognitive meaning and thus nothing but expression of feelings or desires. What constitutes sound philosophical work is sometimes summed up by the term Philosophical method.
Also, it is often agreed upon that arguments should try to avoid vague, non-defined or ill-defined concepts; avoid mixing together different concepts that share the same term; avoid heavy use of concepts with strong connotations ; and being logically sound. It has also been argued that the scientific method should be followed as closely as the subject matter allows. When a branch of philosophy at some point fully can start following the norms of the scientific method, it is no longer termed philosophy, but science.
What is philosophy? Some would respond by listing its major subfields such as logic, ethics, and epistemology; on the other hand, it has also been said that "philosophy is the study of its own history" i. However, some noted philosophers have attempted to address these issues central to philosophy's subject matter and how it is treated:. What is a person? What makes a person the same through time? Is the world strictly composed of matter? Do people have minds? If so, how is the mind related to the body?
Do people have free wills? What is it for one event to cause another? Epistemology Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Typical questions of concern in epistemology are: What is knowledge? Do we know anything at all? How do we know what we know? Can we be justified in claiming to know certain things? Ethics The study of ethics often concerns what we ought to do and what it would be best to do. So, the ethicist attempts to answer such questions as: What is good? What makes actions or people good? What is right? What makes actions right?
Is morality objective or subjective? How should I treat others? Logicians ask such questions as: What constitutes "good" or "bad" reasoning? How do we determine whether a given piece of reasoning is good or bad? Legacy Sort. Legacy Priority.