Philosophy

Philosophy is a brach of humanities and comes from the Greek words for ‘love of wisdom’1. Philosophy is concerned with attempting to understand some of the basic human conditions in a rationalistic manner that puts aside superstitions, myths, and magic. For instance, questions such as ‘Does God exist? What is the meaning of life? What is truth? What does it mean to be human?’ all fall under the broad realm of philosophy. 

While philosophy, to a large extent, deals with questions that appear futile and are likely to be never fully answered or conceptualized, its impact on social sciences is indisputable. Much of the knowledge used today in fields such as biology, chemistry, and physics, were initially philosophical questions in ancient times. For example, ‘Why do humans see in color? Why do humans need food? Why are there different races?’ are questions that have since been answered by genetics and biology, however, the desire to understand such fundamental questions is largely credited to philosophers.

Philosophy is not a stagnant field, nor is it reserved solely to perpetual discussions and debates, rather, philosophy today attempts to understand crucial questions about human existence such as the human rights towards euthanasia, abortion, and stem cell research. 

What is particularly interesting about philosophy is that it crosses the boundaries of almost every other fields of research and study, such as political philosophy, business philosophy, and natural philosophy. This makes it an extremely broad field that lacks specific definitive boundaries. However, the core of philosophy can be divided into five major branches or areas:

  1. Epistemology:- explores the limits, nature, and possibilities of knowledge, such as memory, perception, and justified belief2. Plato is understood to have first established this branch of philosophy.
  2. Ethics:- derived from the Greek word ‘ethos’, which means habit, ethics explores the definitions of what is good and bad or right and wrong. It attempts to reach a consensus by human groups on those definitions.
  3. Logic:- a cornerstone of philosophy, the principles of logic attempt to understand proper reasoning.
  4. Aesthetics:- explores the ideas of beauty or what is pleasurable in terms of sensual experiences, including areas of art.
  5. Metaphysics:- explores concepts of ideas, emotions and desires, whilst attempting to explain the nature of reality. It goes beyond the physical by asking intriguing questions such as ‘What does it mean to exist?, What does one know that something is indeed what it is? and If someone cannot see something, does it exist?’ hence, it goes beyond the sensory perceptions humans rely on daily.

 

1. Britannica

2. Epistemology: Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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