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Defining Pholosophy - Essay Example

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Bertrand Russell, a philosopher, states that philosophy “is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason..." (What is philosophy?, n.d.) The four main branches of philosophy are logic, epistemology, metaphysics and ethics. These branches of philosophy are divided as to the nature of the questions asked in each area; however, these divisions cannot be rigidly separated. Logic pertains to the attempt to codify the rules of rational thought. This is one of the primary tools used by philosophers in their inquiries. Logicians explore the structure of arguments that preserve truth or allow the optimal extraction of knowledge from evidence. The second branch of philosophy is epistemology which is the study of knowledge itself. It deals with the nature, scope, and limits of human knowledge. Epistemologists ask questions such as what are the limits to our knowledge, does science give us knowledge at all or can our powers of reasoning give us knowledge. The third branch of philosophy is metaphysics which is the study of the nature of things. Metaphysicians ask what kinds of things exist, and what they are like. This is the area of philosophy which deals with the ultimate nature of reality. Metaphysicians reason about whether or not people have free will, in what sense abstract objects can be said to exist, and how it is that brains are able to generate minds. Examples of questions asked by metaphysicians are: Given that something exists, why that and not something else? Why that and not nothing? Why is there change? How can there also be permanence through change? Ethics is the fourth branch of philosophy which deals with the study of the rightness and wrongness of actions, the kinds of things which are good or desirable, and the blameworthy and praiseworthy actions. This area deals with how we conduct ourselves within the world. Moral philosophers may investigate questions such as, is it right for rape victims to abort their babies or is euthanasia the solution to a comatose patient? Philosophical questions are conceptual not factual. Generally speaking, philosophical questions are often a series of "why-questions." These are questions which cannot be fully answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. These questions come about when people reflect on their lives and their world. They are often questions about our concepts and the relation between our concepts and the world they represent. Russell states that philosophical questions “appeal to human reason” (What is philosophy?, n.d.). Some philosophical questions are practical while others are theoretical. Example of a practical question is, "Is divorce justifiable?" A theoretical question on the other hand, often arise through thinking about practical issues such as “What is the meaning and purpose of our existence?” According to Stroll and Popkin, philosophical questions have seven characteristics (1972). First, it is a reflection about and the things nothing in it. Example is if one has a pen in his hand and took it off, there is nothing in his hand. So, does that mean that everything exists in nothing? The second characteristic of a philosophical question is it is a conceptual rather than a practical activity. The third characteristic is the use of reason and argumentation to establish a point. Fourth, a philosophical question asks for an explanation of the puzzling features of things such as the mirror, whether it reverses up or down or left or right. A philosophical question also digs beyond the obvious like what is a fact? Is a computer a fact? Another characteristic of ...Show more
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Philosophy is the systematic inquiry into the principles and presuppositions of any endeavor. It comes from the Greek word “philo” which means fond of or affinity for, and “sophia” which means wisdom. …
Defining Pholosophy
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