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Philosophy

1. Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline.
2. Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods.
3. A system of thought based on or involving such inquiry: the philosophy of Hume.
4. The critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs.
5. The disciplines presented in university curriculums of science and the liberal arts, except medicine, law, and theology.
6. The discipline comprising logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology.
7. A set of ideas or beliefs relating to a particular field or activity; an underlying theory.
8. A system of values by which one lives: has an unusual philosophy of life.

Epistemology

The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.

Metaphysics

The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.

Ontology

The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.

Panpsychism

The view that all matter has consciousness.

Philology

The study of language, especially in a philosophical manner and as a science; the investigation of the laws of human speech, the relation of different tongues to one another, and historical development of languages; linguistic science. Note: Philology comprehends a knowledge of the etymology, or origin and combination of words; grammar, the construction of sentences, or use of words in language; criticism, the interpretation of authors, the affinities of different languages, and whatever relates to the history or present state of languages. It sometimes includes rhetoric, poetry, history, and antiquities.

Etymology

The origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown by determining its basic elements, earliest known use, and changes in form and meaning, tracing its transmission from one language to another, identifying its cognates in other languages, and reconstructing its ancestral form where possible.

Manichaeism

1. The syncretic, dualistic religious philosophy taught by the Persian prophet Manes, combining elements of Zoroastrian, Christian, and Gnostic thought and opposed by the imperial Roman government, Neo-Platonist philosophers, and orthodox Christians.
2. A dualistic philosophy dividing the world between good and evil principles or regarding matter as intrinsically evil and mind as intrinsically good.

Syncretism

Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous.

Gnostic

1. Of, relating to, or possessing intellectual or spiritual knowledge.
2. One of the so-called philosophers in the first ages of Christianity, who claimed a true philosophical interpretation of the Christian religion. Their system combined Oriental theology and Greek philosophy with the doctrines of Christianity. They held that all natures, intelligible, intellectual, and material, are derived from the Deity by successive emanations, which they called Eons.

Agnostic

1. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
2. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Atheism

1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

Deism

The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.

Epiphenomenalism

The doctrine holding that mental activities are simply epiphenomena of the neural processes of the brain.

Existentialism

A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

Numerology

The study of the occult meanings of numbers and their supposed influence on human life.

Transcendentalism

A literary and philosophical movement, associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, asserting the existence of an ideal spiritual reality that transcends the empirical and scientific and is knowable through intuition.

Objectivism

One of several doctrines holding that all reality is objective and external to the mind and that knowledge is reliably based on observed objects and events.

Ethics

The science of human duty; the body of rules of duty drawn from this science; a particular system of principles and rules concerting duty, whether true or false.

Aesthetics

The theory or philosophy of taste; the science of the beautiful in nature and art; esp. that which treats of the expression and embodiment of beauty by art.

Conceptualism

The doctrine, intermediate between nominalism and realism, that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality.

Nominalism

The doctrine holding that abstract concepts, general terms, or universals have no independent existence but exist only as names.

Realism

1. The scholastic doctrine, opposed to nominalism, that universals exist independently of their being thought.
2. The modern philosophical doctrine, opposed to idealism, that physical objects exist independently of their being perceived.

Idealism

The system or theory that denies the existence of material bodies, and teaches that we have no rational grounds to believe in the reality of anything but ideas and their relations.

Monism

The view in metaphysics that reality is a unified whole and that all existing things can be ascribed to or described by a single concept or system.

Dualism

The view that the world consists of or is explicable as two fundamental entities, such as mind and matter.

Elementalism

The theory that the heathen divinities originated in the personification of elemental powers.

Functionalism

The doctrine in the philosophy of mind according to which mental states are defined by their causes and effects.

Materialism

The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.

Physicalism

The view that all that exists is ultimately physical.

Humanism

1. The doctrine that people's duty is to promote human welfare.
2. The doctrine emphasizing a person's capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural.

Nihilism

1. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.
2. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

Skepticism

1. The ancient school of Pyrrho of Elis that stressed the uncertainty of our beliefs in order to oppose dogmatism.
2. The doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible, either in a particular domain or in general.
3. A methodology based on an assumption of doubt with the aim of acquiring approximate or relative certainty.

Pragmatism

A movement consisting of varying but associated theories, originally developed by Charles S. Peirce and William James and distinguished by the doctrine that the meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences.

Solipsism

1. The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified.
2. The theory or view that the self is the only reality.

Taoism

A principal philosophy and system of religion of China based on the teachings of Lao-tzu in the sixth century B.C. and on subsequent revelations. It advocates preserving and restoring the Tao in the body and the cosmos.

Utilitarianism

1. The belief that the value of a thing or an action is determined by its utility.
2. The ethical theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.

Egoism

1. The ethical doctrine that morality has its foundations in self-interest.
2. The ethical belief that self-interest is the just and proper motive for all human conduct.

Consequentialism

The view that the value of an action derives solely from the value of its consequences.

Semiotics

The theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication, and comprising semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics.

Phenomenology

A philosophy or method of inquiry based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness.

Mereology

The formal theory and study of part-whole relationships; this branch of logic

Relativism

A theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.

Naturalism

The system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.

Determinism

The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.

Positivism

A doctrine contending that sense perceptions are the only admissible basis of human knowledge and precise thought.

Fatalism

The doctrine that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable.

Structuralism

A method of analyzing phenomena, as in anthropology, linguistics, psychology, or literature, chiefly characterized by contrasting the elemental structures of the phenomena in a system of binary opposition.

Externalism

That philosophy or doctrine which recognizes or deals only with externals, or objects of sense perception; positivism; phenomenalism.

Contractarianism

Any of various theories that justify moral principles or political arrangements by appealing to a social contract that is voluntarily committed to under ideal conditions for such commitment.

Ditheism

The doctrine of those who maintain the existence of two gods or of two original principles (as in Manicheism), one good and one evil; dualism.

Hylotheism

The doctrine of belief that matter is God, or that there is no God except matter and the universe; pantheism.

Pantheism

The doctrine that the universe, taken or conceived of as a whole, is God; the doctrine that there is no God but the combined force and laws which are manifested in the existing universe; cosmotheism.

Natural philosophy

originally, the study of nature in general; in modern usage, that branch of physical science, commonly called physics, which treats of the phenomena and laws of matter and considers those effects only which are unaccompanied by any change of a chemical nature; contrasted with mental and moral philosophy.