The School of Athens (1509–1511) by Raphael, depicting famous classical Greek philosophers in an idealized setting inspired by ancient Greek architecture

Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom"[1][2][3][4]) is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[5][6] The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation.[7][8] Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it?[9][10][11] What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)?[12] Do humans have free will?[13]

Historically, "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge.[14] From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy, medicine, and physics.[15] For example, Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy later became classified as a book of physics. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize.[16][17] In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics.

Other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective?[18][19] Are there many scientific methods or just one?[20] Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy?[21][22][23] Major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics ("concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being"),[24] epistemology (about the "nature and grounds of knowledge [and]...its limits and validity" [25]), ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, logic, philosophy of science, and the history of Western philosophy.

Since the 20th century, professional philosophers contribute to society primarily as professors. However, many of those who study philosophy in undergraduate or graduate programs contribute in the fields of law, journalism, politics, religion, science, business and various art and entertainment activities.[26]

  1. ^ "Strong's Greek Dictionary 5385". 
  2. ^ "Home : Oxford English Dictionary". 
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Online Etymology Dictionary was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference Webster's New World Dictionary was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference philosophy was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ A.C. Grayling, Philosophy 1: A Guide through the Subject (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 1: "The aim of philosophical inquiry is to gain insight into questions about knowledge, truth, reason, reality, meaning, mind, and value."
  7. ^ Adler, Mortimer J. (28 March 2000). How to Think About the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization. Chicago, Ill.: Open Court. ISBN 978-0-8126-9412-3. 
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference justification was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Greco, John, ed. (1 October 2011). The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism (1st ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-983680-2. 
  10. ^ Glymour, Clark (10 April 2015). "Chapters 1–6". Thinking Things Through: An Introduction to Philosophical Issues and Achievements (2nd ed.). A Bradford Book. ISBN 978-0-262-52720-0. 
  11. ^ "Contemporary Skepticism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  12. ^ "The Internet Classics Archive | The Republic by Plato". Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  13. ^ "Free Will | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  14. ^ "Philosophy". Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 19 March 2016. The English word "philosophy" is first attested to c. 1300, meaning "knowledge, body of knowledge." 
  15. ^ Lindberg 2007, p. 3.
  16. ^ Shapin, Steven (1 January 1998). The Scientific Revolution (1st ed.). University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-75021-7. 
  17. ^ Briggle, Robert Frodeman and Adam. "When Philosophy Lost Its Way". Opinionator. Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  18. ^ Sartwell, Crispin (1 January 2014). Zalta, Edward N., ed. Beauty (Spring 2014 ed.). 
  19. ^ "Plato, Hippias Major | Loeb Classical Library". Loeb Classical Library. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  20. ^ Feyerabend, Paul; Hacking, Ian (11 May 2010). Against Method (4th ed.). Verso. ISBN 978-1-84467-442-8. 
  21. ^ "Nozick, Robert: Political Philosophy | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  22. ^ "Rawls, John | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  23. ^ More, Thomas (8 May 2015). Utopia. Courier Corporation. ISBN 978-0-486-11070-7. 
  24. ^ "Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 14 May 2016. 
  25. ^ "Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 14 May 2016. 
  26. ^ "Why Study Philosophy? An Unofficial "Daily Nous" Affiliate". Retrieved 2016-05-02. 

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