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Philosophical Issues

Are you ready to delve into the myriad possible answers to such complex questions as "What makes an action virtuous?" or "What is the nature of consciousness?" Do you embrace weighty topics such as the relative merits of empiricism and rationalism? An inquisitive spirit is all but a prerequisite for many of the topics listed here, which deal with the different approaches to and ideas about the big questions of life.

Philosophical Issues Encyclopedia Articles

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Humanism
Humanism, system of education and mode of inquiry that originated in northern Italy during the 13th and 14th centuries and later spread through continental Europe and England. The term is alternatively applied to a variety of Western beliefs, methods, and philosophies that place central emphasis on...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Cicero
Daoism
Daoism, indigenous religio-philosophical tradition that has shaped Chinese life for more than 2,000 years. In the broadest sense, a Daoist attitude toward life can be seen in the accepting and yielding, the joyful and carefree sides of the Chinese character, an attitude that offsets and complements...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Laozi
Epistemology
Epistemology, the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge. The term is derived from the Greek epistēmē (“knowledge”) and logos (“reason”), and accordingly the field is sometimes referred to as the theory of knowledge. Epistemology has a long history within Western...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
optical illusion: refraction of light
Indian philosophy
Indian philosophy, the systems of thought and reflection that were developed by the civilizations of the Indian subcontinent. They include both orthodox (astika) systems, namely, the Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva-Mimamsa (or Mimamsa), and Vedanta schools of philosophy, and unorthodox...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
The Hindu deity Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, mounted on a horse pulling Arjuna, hero of the epic poem Mahabharata; 17th-century illustration.
Ethics
Ethics, the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad and morally right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles. How should we live? Shall we aim at happiness or at knowledge, virtue, or the creation of beautiful objects? If we choose...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Code of Hammurabi
Formal logic
Formal logic, the abstract study of propositions, statements, or assertively used sentences and of deductive arguments. The discipline abstracts from the content of these elements the structures or logical forms that they embody. The logician customarily uses a symbolic notation to express such...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Alfred North Whitehead
Applied logic
Applied logic, the study of the practical art of right reasoning. This study takes different forms depending on the type of reasoning involved and on what the criteria of right reasoning are taken to be. The reasoning in question may turn on the principles of logic alone, or it may also involve...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Aristotle
Philosophy of physics
Philosophy of physics, philosophical speculation about the concepts, methods, and theories of the physical sciences, especially physics. The philosophy of physics is less an academic discipline—though it is that—than an intellectual frontier across which theoretical physics and modern Western...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Isaac Newton
Philosophy of mind
Philosophy of mind, reflection on the nature of mental phenomena and especially on the relation of the mind to the body and to the rest of the physical world. Philosophy is often concerned with the most general questions about the nature of things: What is the nature of beauty? What is it to have...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Max Weber
Political philosophy
Political philosophy, branch of philosophy that is concerned, at the most abstract level, with the concepts and arguments involved in political opinion. The meaning of the term political is itself one of the major problems of political philosophy. Broadly, however, one may characterize as political...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Code of Hammurabi
Confucianism
Confucianism, the way of life propagated by Confucius in the 6th–5th century bce and followed by the Chinese people for more than two millennia. Although transformed over time, it is still the substance of learning, the source of values, and the social code of the Chinese. Its influence has also...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Confucius
Buddhism
Buddhism, religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha (Sanskrit: “Awakened One”), a teacher who lived in northern India between the mid-6th and mid-4th centuries bce (before the Common Era). Spreading from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan,...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Buddha
Aesthetics
Aesthetics, the philosophical study of beauty and taste. It is closely related to the philosophy of art, which is concerned with the nature of art and the concepts in terms of which individual works of art are interpreted and evaluated. To provide more than a general definition of the subject...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Edmund Burke
Western philosophy
Western philosophy, history of Western philosophy from its development among the ancient Greeks to the present. This article has three basic purposes: (1) to provide an overview of the history of philosophy in the West, (2) to relate philosophical ideas and movements to their historical background...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Plutarch
Metaphysics
Metaphysics, branch of philosophy whose topics in antiquity and the Middle Ages were the first causes of things and the nature of being. In postmedieval philosophy, however, many other topics came to be included under the heading “metaphysics.” (The reasons for this development will be discussed in...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Aristotle
History of logic
History of logic, the history of the discipline from its origins among the ancient Greeks to the present time. There was a medieval tradition according to which the Greek philosopher Parmenides (5th century bce) invented logic while living on a rock in Egypt. The story is pure legend, but it does...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Zeno's paradox
Philosophy of science
Philosophy of science, the study, from a philosophical perspective, of the elements of scientific inquiry. This article discusses metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical issues related to the practice and goals of modern science. For treatment of philosophical issues raised by the problems and...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Aristotle
Philosophy of art
Philosophy of art, the study of the nature of art, including concepts such as interpretation, representation and expression, and form. It is closely related to aesthetics, the philosophical study of beauty and taste. The philosophy of art is distinguished from art criticism, which is concerned with...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Untitled (String Quilt, Housetop Pattern)
Analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy, a loosely related set of approaches to philosophical problems, dominant in Anglo-American philosophy from the early 20th century, that emphasizes the study of language and the logical analysis of concepts. Although most work in analytic philosophy has been done in Great Britain...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Gottlob Frege
Biology, philosophy of
Biology, philosophy of, philosophical speculation about the concepts, methods, and theories of the biological sciences. The sharp increase in understanding of biological processes that has occurred since the mid-20th century has stimulated philosophical interest in biology to an extent...
Encyclopedia / Philosophical Issues
Aristotle

Philosophical Issues Encyclopedia Articles

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