Meaning and Origins of the Word Philosophy

Pie as the Greek symbol of Philosophy

Pie as the Greek symbol of Philosophy

Origins of the word Philosophy:

Philosophy is a word derived from Middle English.

The word “Philosophy” can be traced back to the Old French “philosophie” and Latin, from the Greek word, “philosophia” which translates as “love of wisdom”.

Researchers and experts in the field of philosophy are commonly known as “Philosophers.” They ask virtually basic types of questions and articulate answers.

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What is Philosophy?

The word philosophy literally means a love of wisdom. It is an activity which we all indulge in, this deep thought process and many of us through our personal life experiences come to our very own conclusion about life. We ponder and constantly seek answers to questions within our deep psyche about the deeper meaning of life. As a varied and deep rooted subject, Philosophy is a means of thinking deeply and contemplating the big questions such as:

“Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” Such questions and other related ones ponder on the relationship of people with each other and the world we live in.

History of Philosophy

Philosophy is in fact a close relation to religious scriptures. Dealing with the most basic questions in life, it allows you to ponder on the unknown. Deep thinkers who have dedicated their lives to this academic subject are known as “philosophers” and there are many famous examples of these including the greats such as Aristotle and Plato.

In fact, Philosophy as a subject in its own right was originally coined by the Greeks who took this subject quite seriously. Although philosophy is primarily about the thought process, logic and rational arguments feature as main ways to prove or disprove theories. Not only does philosophy incorporate a sense of introspection thereby focusing on the thought process of an individual, but also seeks to incorporate groups of people and past knowledge of great thinkers.

The general way the study of this subject is enhanced is an attempt by the philosophers to use rationalising arguments relating to general concepts such as reality, existence and values in a critical and systematic manner. In this sense many questions emerge which need to be answered. Philosophers then attempt to analyse and define their thought processes, in an attempt to conceptualise and theorise many of the resulting ideas. Philosophers continually ask questions and consistently seek answers in an almost childlike wonderment.

Historically, although this subject has evolved and changed, currently the 6 major areas of study and focus in the modern academic sense of the word philosophy are:

  • Aesthetics: An appreciation of art and beauty, asking questions such as “why is Art important?”
  • Epistemology: Knowledge and the acquisition of it, asking questions such as “what is knowledge?”
  • Ethics: How people live and questioning and defining what is right or wrong, asking questions such as “what is good?”
  • Logic: Development of valid arguments as well as mathematical logic, asking questions such as “what is good or bad reasoning?”
  • Metaphysics: Nature of reality and the universe, asking questions such as “is there a God?”
  • Politics: Government, political obligations and citizen rights, asking questions such as “what is an ideal type of government?”

On a general level the word “Philosophy” and the concept of it can be applied to any type of subject e.g. Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of the Arts.

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