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Philosophy 101

Philosophy 101 faces the most basic and central philosophical questions, such as: what is philosophy?, or why study philosophy?

What Is Philosophy?
Literally it means “love of wisdom.” But, really, philosophy begins in wonder. Thus taught most of the major figures of ancient philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, and the Tao Te Ching. And it ends in wonder too, when philosophical taught has done it’s best – as A.N. Whitehead once suggested. So, what characterizes philosophical wonder? How...

How to Read Philosophy?
What is specific about philosophical reading? Which tips and guidelines can you follow to improve your understanding of philosophical texts? How to use philosophy books to enhance your philosophical curiosity and the one of your peers?

Why Major in Philosophy?
Philosophy is one of the most spontaneous and profound activities humans can pursue; but, what can you do with a major in philosophy? Here are eleven reasons to choose the examined life .

How to Write Philosophy?
How to write a solid philosophy paper? Which practices should you follow and which ones to avoid? Here are ten simple and general steps you can follow.

Philosophy Writing Tips I
Before drafting a philosophy paper, there are a few things to bear in mind. First of all, in philosophy, clarity trumps style. The fun part is to make all the pieces fit neatly together. If you feel confused, take a break. But the most certain path to clarity is avoiding certain mistakes. This can be easily done. Here are nine of the most common...

Ancient Greek Philosophy
Ancient Greek philosophy extends from as far as the seventh century B.C. up until the beginning of the Roman Empire, in first century A.D. During this period five great philosophical traditions originated: the Platonist, the Aristotelian, the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Skeptic.

Philosophy vs Lifestyle
The term "philosophy" is often employed in everyday discourse. A restaurant may state its cooking philosophy on its menu or its website; an investment banker may be invited to lecture colleagues on her investing philosophy; a farmer may see herself as following a specific farming philosophy; and so on. There is, in other words, the tendency to use philosophy in conjunction with the exposition of one’s style, manner of carrying out a task, or methodology. In such contexts we are not really doing philosophy or being exposed to philosophical ideas – many philosophers would like to say. Yet, how to tell philosophy from lifestyle? And, what is the relationship between philosophy and lifestyle: are philosophers held – to any extent –accountable for their own actions?

What do you know, really? And how did you arrive at it? These are the two central questions of epistemology, or "theory of knowledge", one of the most central branches in philosophy along with metaphysics and ethics. Epistemological views have been elaborated in all philosophical traditions. They divide primarily among so-called rationalist and...

The West
The idea of a West was initially also a geographic idea, when first used by the ancient Greeks to indicate the societal structure and culture of those societies that stood West of Persia. Later adopted also to describe the societies falling under the Roman influence, it has since been utilized by early and late medieval Christians, Europeans,...

Empiricism is the philosophical stance according to which the senses are the ultimate source of human knowledge. It rivals rationalism according to which reason is the ultimate source of knowledge. In a form or another, empiricism features in most philosophical tradition. In Western philosophy, empiricism boasts a long and distinguished list of...

Friedrich Nietzsche: Philosophy (1844-1900)
Trained as a classical philologist, Friedrich Nietzsche grew to become one of the most distinguished German philosophers and one of the most original voices in Western philosophy. His life was marked by significant health problems and stark contrasts with friends and colleagues. Although it is sometimes opportune also to differentiate different...

Friedrich Nietzsche: Life (1844-1900)
A central figure of modern philosophy, Friedrich Nietzsche was trained in classical philology. His production – in comparison to its relevance – was concentrated in an extraordinarily brief time span, between 1869 and 1888. Known for his stark contrasts with friends and colleagues, most famous the controversy with fellow composer Richard Wagner,...

First developed in early nineteenth-hundreds in France, from the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, existentialism it has since grown to become one of the most prominent philosophical movements. Owing much to the philosophies of Descartes and Edmund Husserl, existentialism centers on three key concepts: anguish, abandonment, and despair. To date, both...

Truth is a topic of major significance within any philosophy branch. Virtually every philosophers has to come to terms, in one way or another, with the nature of truth. Because of this, the array of positions regarding truth is as wide as that of philosophical schools and theories that have been proposed. In this article we will review the main...

Nominalism and Realism
Nominalism and Realism are the two most distinguished positions in western metaphysics dealing with the fundamental structure of reality. According to realists claim that all entities divide up into two major groups: particulars and universals; Nominalists instead argue that there are only particulars.

Rationalism is the philosophical stance according to which reason is the ultimate source of human knowledge. It rivals empiricism according to which the senses suffice in justifying knowledge. In a form or another, rationalism features in most philosophical tradition; in the Western one, it boasts a long and distinguished list of followers,...

Philosophy as a Form of Literature
Is philosophy ever literature? That is, if you were to make a list of some valuable samples of literature, would you be inclined to include any philosophical text? If you would, which criteria should you follow for inclusion in the list?

How to Pick a Philosophy Undergraduate Program
You are thinking about possibly majoring in philosophy and are scouting for some of the best programs in the U.S.? Chances are that, if you are after a major in philosophy, you have been exposed to it in some way before applying to college; maybe a family member or a friend studied philosophy and you think that the subject may well suit your...

The Varieties of Necessity
Necessity and possibility are intimately related: to say that a scenario is possible is to say that it is not necessary that it is not possible, while to say that a scenario is necessary is to say that it is not possible that it fails to be the case. Such type of relation is more thoroughly investigated by that branch of logic that goes under...

Conventionalism is a generic term capturing a varieties of philosophical positions, held in disparate areas such as philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mathematics, logic, and ethics. Although it is difficult to find a common denominator for all views that bear the conventionalist label, they have tended to influence each other based on the specific conception of convention.

Logic is one of the most important and oldest branches of philosophy and its subject matter falls at the core of philosophizing. Logic studies patterns of reasoning dividing them into those that are "valid" and "invalid" with respect to a set of given rules. Classical logic studies those arguments that are valid with respect to some rules as...

The Self
The idea of a self plays a central role in Western philosophy as well as in the Indian and other major traditions. Three main types of views of the self can be discerned. One moves from Kant’s conception of rationally autonomous self, another from the so-called homo-economicus theory, of Aristotelian descent. Both those types of views theorize...

The Enigmas of Possibility
Possibility is a central topic in contemporary and classical metaphysics. It is often taken up along with necessity. Since the two of them represent two modes of existence of an entity, possibility and necessity are also said modalities – to be more exact, they are alethic modalities, that is they are those modalities that pertain to truth and falsity.

The Analytic-Continental Split
The split between analytic and continental philosophers is perhaps one of the most distinctive traits of Western philosophy in the twentieth century. What is this all about and what relevance does it have to this date?

Best Online Philosophy Sources I: Encyclopedias, Radios, and TVs
Since the advent of internet, philosophy sources on the web have grown steadily both in number and varieties. Nowadays, having an online profile and being up to date with regard to the latest debates, trends, and news on the subject has become a (almost obligatory) routine for professional philosophers, aspiring ones, and amateurs. Here we shall...

Ethics is one of the major branches of philosophy and an ethical theory is part and parcel of all philosophies broadly conceived. The aim of ethics has been viewed in different ways: according to some, it is the discernment of right from wrong actions; to others, ethics separates that which is morally good from what is morally bad;...

Best Philosophy Graduate Programs
The choice of a philosophy graduate program can be extremely difficult. In the U.S.A. alone, there are over one hundred of well-established departments granting graduate degrees (M.A., M.Phil., or Ph.D.) Needless to say, Canada, the U.K., Australia, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and a few other countries have graduate programs that...

Philosophy of Language
Philosophy of language takes central place in contemporary philosophizing and its dealt in quite different manners in the analytic and continental traditions (roughly, the modern-day Anglo-Saxon and German-French philosophical schools respectively). In the analytic tradition, philosophy of language has focused on the characterization of meaning,...

Philosophy of Art
How to tell an artwork from what is a work of art is not? What is it that makes an object, or a gesture, a work of art? Those questions lie at the core of Philosophy of Art, a major subfield of Aesthetics. Let’s see how they may be answered.

Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy whose importance has extensively grown over the past century, in connection to the raising prestige and influence of disciplines such as physics, chemistry and – most lately – biology in understanding basic questions regarding the world as well as human identity and agency. Although its existence...

What Is Beauty?
The nature of beauty is one of the most fascinating riddles of philosophy. Is beauty universal? How do we know it? How can we predispose ourselves to embrace it? Nearly every major philosopher has engaged with these questions and their cognates, including the great figures of ancient Greek philosophy such as Plato and Aristotle.

Metaphysics is one of the core branches of philosophy and it is among the oldest ones. Metaphysics centers on the study of the most fundamental categories of reality and their relations, such as god, person, thing, event, property, causation. The question typical of this branch is, hence: “What is there, really?”

Biographies of Famous American Philosophers
Our own Austin Cline has compiled a useful list of biographies of famous american philosophers. Check it out.

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