Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. The word "philosophy" comes from the Ancient Greek (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom".
- Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.
- Alhazen,“Muslim Journeys.” Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.
- Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.
- An art, which has an aim to achieve the beauty, is called a philosophy or in the absolute sense it is named wisdom.
- Alpharabius, “Philosophy” Alpharabius. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.
- Philosophy that satisfies its own intention, and does not childishly skip behind its own history and the real one, has its lifeblood in the resistance against the common practices of today and what they serve, against the justification of what happens to be the case.
- Theodor Adorno, “Why still philosophy?” Critical Models (1998), p. 6
- If philosophy is still necessary, it is so only in the way it has been from time immemorial: as critique, as resistance to the expanding heteronomy, even if only as thought’s powerless attempt to remain its own master and to convict of untruth, by their own criteria, both a fabricated mythology and a conniving, resigned acquiescence.
- Theodor Adorno, “Why still philosophy?” Critical Models (1998), p. 10
- As solid citizens, philosophers ally themselves in practice with the powers they condemn in theory.
- Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, E. Jephcott, trans., p. 67
- The philosopher as an analyst is not concerned with the physical properties of things, but only with the way in which we speak about them.
- The philosopher wants to know things as they are. He loves the truth. That is an intellectual virtue. He does not love to tell the truth. That is a moral virtue. Presumably he would prefer not to practice deception; but if it is a condition of his survival, he has no objection to it. The hopes of changing mankind almost always end up in changing not mankind but one’s thought.
- Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), p. 279
- Art shows how it loves, philosophy what it loves; mysticism knows only that it loves.
- Constantin Brunner, Our Christ
- Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it … or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings—that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
- In philosophy equally as in poetry it is the highest and most useful prerogative of genius to produce the strongest impressions of novelty, while it rescues admitted truths from the neglect caused by the very circumstance of their universal admission.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aids to Reflection (1829), Aphorism 1
- To theology, ... only what it holds sacred is true, whereas to philosophy, only what holds true is sacred.
- Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion, R. Manheim, trans. (1967), Lecture 2, p. 11
- A cleric who loses his faith abandons his calling; a philosopher who loses his redefines his subject.
- Ernest Gellner, in Words and Things (1959)
- Philosophy is explicitness, generality, orientation and assessment. That of which one would insinuate, thereof one must speak.
- Ernest Gellner, in Words and Things (1959), p. 265
- The true philosophy is rhetoric, and the true rhetoric is philosophy, a philosophy which does not need an “external” rhetoric to convince, and a rhetoric that does not need an “external” content of verity.
- Ernesto Grassi, Rhetoric as Philosophy (1980), pp. 31-32
- We may get some idea of the change in perspective that may occur in our reading and interpretation of the philosophical works of antiquity when we consider them from the point of view of the practice of spiritual exercises. Philosophy then appears in its original aspect: not as a theoretical construct, but as a method for training people to live and to look at the world in a new way. It is an attempt to transform mankind. Contemporary historians of philosophy are today scarcely inclined to pay attention to this aspect, although it is an essential one. The reason for this is that, in conformity with a tradition inherited from the Middle Ages … they consider philosophy to be purely abstract-theoretical activity.
- Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase (1995), p. 107
- With the advent of medieval Scholasticism, ... we find a clear distinction between theologia and philosophia. Theology became conscious of its autonomy qua supreme science, which philosophy was emptied of its spiritual exercises, which, from now on, were relegated to Christian mysticism and ethics. Reduced to the rank of a “handmaid of theology,” philosophy’s role was henceforth to furnish theology with conceptual—and hence purely theoretical—material. When, in the modern age, philosophy regained its autonomy, it still retained many features inherited from this medieval conception. In particular, it maintained its purely theoretical character, which even evolved in the direction of a more and more thorough systemization. Not until Nietzsche, Bergson, and existentialism does philosophy consciously return to being a concrete attitude, a way of life and of seeing the world.
- Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase (1995), p. 107
- A thirsty ambition for truth and virtue, and a frenzy to conquer all lies and vices which are not recognized as such nor desire to be; herein consists the heroic spirit of the philosopher.
- Johann Georg Hamann, Socratic Memorabilia, J. Flaherty, trans. (Baltimore: 1967), p. 147
- "'You only think you are barnpots,' shouted angry farmers from the meadows. 'Shut that row up! You're frightening the chickens, you lot and your bloody philosophy. You can't eat philosophy can you? Where would you be if us farmers went round spouting statements like that, eh? Dead, that's where you'd be! Because there'd be naff all to eat!"
- Mike Harding, in "Rambling On"
- Philosophy is not the owl of Minerva that takes flight after history has been realized in order to celebrate its happy ending; rather, philosophy is subjective proposition, desire, and praxis that are applied to the event.
- Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire
- Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy.
- Martin Heidegger, Contributions to Philosophy, P. Emad, trans. (1989), p. 307
- In many places, above all in the Anglo-Saxon countries, logistics is today considered the only possible form of strict philosophy, because its result and procedures yield an assured profit for the construction of the technological universe. In America and elsewhere, logistics as the only proper philosophy of the future is thus beginning today to seize power over the intellectual world.
- Martin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking, J. Glenn Gray, trans. (New York: Harper, 1968), p. 21
- Pretend what we may, the whole man within us is at work when we form our philosophical opinions. Intellect, will, taste, and passion co-operate just as they do in practical affairs; and lucky it is if the passion be not something as petty as a love of personal conquest over the philosopher across the way.
- William James, in The Sentiment of Rationality (1882)
- The Greek word for philosopher (philosophos) connotes a distinction from sophos. It signifies the lover of wisdom (knowledge) as distinguished from him who considers himself wise in the possession of knowledge. This meaning of the word still endures: the essence of philosophy is not the possession of the truth but the search for truth. … Philosophy means to be on the way. Its questions are more essential than its answers, and every answer becomes a new question.
- Karl Jaspers, Way to Wisdom, R. Mannheim, trans. (New Haven: 1951), p. 12
- To philosophise is to learn to die – philosophising is a soaring up to the Godhead – the knowledge of Being as Being.
- Karl Jaspers, "Philosophy and Science", World Review Magazine (March 1950)
- Physics and philosophy are at most a few thousand years old, but probably have lives of thousands of millions of years stretching away in front of them. They are only just beginning to get under way.
- James Jeans, Physics and Philosophy, p.217.,(1942)
- Born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose, philosophy shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself.
- the human being is by nature a philosopher
- philosophy must obey its own rules and be based upon its own principles; truth, however, can only be one.
- Too much philosophy makes men mad.
- Alan Judd, The Noonday Devil (1987)
- Philosophy is life's dry-nurse, who can take care of us -- but not suckle us.
- Søren Kierkegaard, Journals and Papers, 1837
- It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.
- Søren Kierkegaard, Journals and Papers, 1843
- The spheres with which philosophy properly has to deal, the spheres proper to thought, are logic, nature, and history. Here necessity rules and therefore mediation has its validity. That this is true of logic and nature, no one will deny, but with history there is a difficulty, for here, it is said, freedom prevails. But I think that history is incorrectly interpreted and that the difficulty arises from the following: History, namely, is more than a product of the free actions of free individuals. The individual acts, but his action enters into the order of things that maintains the whole of existence. What is going to come of his action, one who acts does not really know. But this higher order of things that digests, so to speak, the free actions and works them together in its eternal laws is necessity, and this necessity is the movement of world history; it is therefore quite proper for philosophy to use mediation-that is, relative mediation. If I am contemplating a world-historical individuality, I can then distinguish between the deeds of which Scripture says “they follow him” and the deeds by which he belongs to history. Philosophy has nothing to do with what could be called the inner deed, but the inner deed is the true life of freedom. Philosophy considers the external deed, yet in turn it does not see this as isolated but sees it as assimilated into and transformed in the world-historical process. This process is the proper subject for philosophy and it considers this under the category of necessity. Therefore it reject the reflection that wants to point out that everything could be otherwise; it views world-history in such a way that there is no question of an either/or.
- Soren Kierkegaard Either/Or Part II, Hong p. 174
- The philosopher ... subjects experience to his critical judgment, and this contains a value judgment—namely, that freedom from toil is preferable to toil, and an intelligent life is preferable to a stupid life. It so happened that philosophy was born with these values. Scientific thought had to break this union of value judgment and analysis, for it became increasingly clear that the philosophic values did not guide the organisation of society.
- Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (1964), p. 126
- The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
- Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, thesis 11
- Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.
- Karl Marx, The German Ideology, International Publishers, ed. Chris Arthur, p. 103
- What makes a philosopher is the movement which leads back without ceasing from knowledge to ignorance, from ignorance to knowledge, and a kind of rest in this movement.
- Maurice Merleau-Ponty, In Praise of Philosophy (Chicago: 1963), p. 5
- Theology recognizes the contingency of human existence only to derive it from a necessary being, that is, to remove it. Theology makes use of philosophical wonder only for the purpose of motivating an affirmation which ends it. Philosophy, on the other hand, arouses us to what is problematic in our own existence and in that of the world, to such a point that we shall never be cured of searching for a solution.
- Maurice Merleau-Ponty, In Praise of Philosophy (Chicago: 1963), p. 44
- Learning philosophy is learning a particular kind of intuitive understanding.
- Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics As A Guide To Morals, p. 236
- Jetzt wage ich es, der Weisheit selber nachzugehen und selber Philosoph zu sein; früher verehrte ich die Philosophen.
- What does a philosopher demand of himself, first and last? To overcome his time in himself, to become “timeless.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Case of Wagner, Preface, cited in Kauffman, Nietzsche, pp. 406
- Science rushes headlong, without selectivity, without “taste,” at whatever is knowable, in the blind desire to know all at any cost. Philosophical thinking, on the other hand, is ever on the scent of those things which are most worth knowing, the great and the important insights.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, Marianne Cowan trans., p. 43
- In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.
- Ayn Rand, "Philosophy, who needs it?"
- Philosophy seems to me on the whole a rather hopeless business.
- Bertrand Russell, in a letter to Gilbert Murray, December 28, 1902.
- Philosophy, if it cannot answer so many questions as we could wish, has at least the power of asking questions which increase the interest of the world, and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of daily life.
- Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (1912).
- Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.
- Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (1912).
- The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
- Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism (1918).
- When people begin to philosophize they seem to think it necessary to make themselves artificially stupid.
- Bertrand Russell, Theory of Knowledge (1913).
- Science is what we know, and philosophy is what we don't know.
- Philosophers, for the most part, are constitutionally timid, and dislike the unexpected. Few of them would be genuinely happy as pirates or burglars.
- Philosophy makes progress not by becoming more rigorous but by becoming more imaginative.
- Richard Rorty, introduction to Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume 3 (1998)
- The philosopher places himself at the summit of thought; from there he views what the world has been and what it must become. He is not just an observer, he is an actor; he is an actor of the highest kind in a moral world because it is his opinion of what the world must become that regulates society.
- Henri de Saint-Simon, in Mémoire sur la science de l'homme (1813).
- Expect nothing more from philosophy than a voice, language and grammar of the instinct for Godliness that lies at its origin, and, essentially, is philosophy itself.
- Friedrich Schlegel, “On Philosophy: To Dorothea,” in Theory as Practice (1997), p. 421
- Über keinen Gegenstand philosophieren sie seltner als über die Philosophie.
- About no subject is there less philosophizing than about philosophy.
- Friedrich Schlegel, “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #1
- About no subject is there less philosophizing than about philosophy.
- Philosophy always begins in the middle, like an epic poem.
- Friedrich Schlegel, “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #84
- Whoever does not philosophize for the sake of philosophy, but rather uses philosophy as a means, is a sophist.
- Friedrich Schlegel, “Selected Aphorisms from the Athenaeum (1798)”, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, Ernst Behler and Roman Struc, trans. (Pennsylvania University Press:1968) #96
- A man becomes a philosopher by reason of a certain perplexity, from which he seeks to free himself.
- University professors, restricted in this way, are quite happy about the matter, for their real concern is to earn with credit an honest livelihood for themselves and also for their wives and children and moreover to enjoy a certain prestige in the eyes of the public. On the other hand, the deeply stirred mind of the real philosopher, whose whole concern in to look for the key to our existence, as mysterious as it is precarious, is regarded by them as something mythological, if indeed the man so affected does not even appear to them to be obsessed by a monomania, should he ever be met with among them. For that a man could really be in dead earnest about philosophy does not as a rule occur to anyone, least of all to a lecturer thereon.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Philosophy in the Universities,” Parerga and Paralipomena, E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, p. 141
- Philosophy is no trick to catch the public; it is not devised for show. It is a matter, not of words, but of facts. It is not pursued in order that the day may yield some amusement before it is spent, or that our leisure may be relieved of a tedium that irks us. It molds and constructs the soul; it orders our life, guides our conduct, shows us what we should do and what we should leave undone; it sits at the helm and directs our course as we waver amid uncertainties. Without it, no one can live fearlessly or in peace of mind. Countless things that happen every hour call for advice; and such advice is to be sought in philosophy.
- Seneca, Moral Letters, R. Gummere, trans. (1917)
- Shouldn't I join the ranks of philosophers and merely make unsubstantiated claims about the wonders of human consciousness? Shouldn't I stop trying to do some science and keep my head down? Indeed not.
- I feel that we are all philosophers, and that those who describe themselves as a philosopher simply do not have a day job to go to.
- When we affirm that philosophy begins with wonder, we are affirming in effect that sentiment is prior to reason.
- Richard Weaver, in Ideas have Consequences (1948), p. 19
- What characterizes philosophy is this "step back" from actuality into possibility — the attitude best rendered by Adorno's and Horkheimer's motto quoted by Fredric Jameson: "Not Italy itself is given here, but the proof that it exists."
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 596-97.
- A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.
- Francis Bacon, Essays, Atheism
- Sublime Philosophy!
Thou art the patriarch’s ladder, reaching heaven;
And bright with beckoning angels—but alas!
We see thee, like the patriarch, but in dreams,
By the first step, dull slumbering on the earth.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu (1839), Act III, scene 1, line 4
- Beside, he was a shrewd philosopher,
And had read ev’ry text and gloss over
Whate’er the crabbed’st author hath,
He understood b’ implicit faith.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto I, line 127
- Before Philosophy can teach by Experience, the Philosophy has to be in readiness, the Experience must be gathered and intelligibly recorded.
- Thomas Carlyle, Essays, On History
- O vitæ philosophia dux! O virtutis indagatrix, expultrixque vitiorum! Quid non modo nos, sed omnino vita hominum sine et esse potuisset? Tu urbes peperisti; tu dissipatos homines in societatum vitæ convocasti.
- O philosophy, life’s guide! O searcher-out of virtue and expeller of vices! What could we and every age of men have been without thee? Thou hast produced cities; thou hast called men scattered about into the social enjoyment of life.
- Cicero, Tusc. Quæst, Book V. 2. 5
- The first step towards philosophy is incredulity.
- Denis Diderot, Last Conversation
- The Beginning of Philosophy is a Consciousness of your own Weakness and inability in necessary things.
- Epictetus, Discourses, Book II. Ch, XI. St. 1
- Philosophy goes no further than probabilities, and in every assertion keeps a doubt in reserve.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Calvinism
- This same philosophy is a good horse in the stable, but an arrant jade on a journey.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Good-Natured Man, Act I
- How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo’s lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectar’d sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.
- John Milton, Mask of Comus, line 476
- That stone,
Philosophers in vain so long have sought.
- Se moquer de la philosophie c’est vraiment philosophe.
- To ridicule philosophy is truly philosophical.
- Blaise Pascal, Pensées, Article VII. 35
- Professional philosophers are usually only apologists: that is, they are absorbed in defending some vested illusion or some eloquent idea. Like lawyers or detectives, they study the case for which they are retained.
- George Santayana, The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy (1967), pp. 48-49
- Philosophy is nothing but Discretion.
- John Selden, Table Talk, Philosophy
- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Adversity’s sweet milk, philosophy.
- The philosopher is Nature’s pilot. And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer.
- Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903), Act III, line 509
- It is as absurd to expect members of philosophy departments to be philosophers as it is to expect members of art departments to be artists.
- Leo Strauss, “What is liberal education?” Liberalism, Ancient and Modern (1968), p. 7
- Men are constantly attracted and deluded by two opposite charms: the charm of competence which is engendered by mathematics and everything akin to mathematics, and the charm of humble awe, which is engendered by meditation on the human soul and its experiences. Philosophy is characterized by the gentle, if firm, refusal to succumb to either charm.
- Leo Strauss, What is Political Philosophy?, p. 40
- There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. ... To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.
- Thoreau, Walden (1854), “Economy” ¶ A19
- La clarté est la bonne foi des philosophes.
- Clearness marks the sincerity of philosophers.
- Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues, Pensées Diverses, No. 372. Gilbert’s ed. (1857), Volume I, p. 475
- Contemporary philosophy illustrates Hegel’s dictum that philosophy is its own time apprehended in thought, for in our age philosophy yields to the objectifying technical impulse and loses its ancient task of pursuing the Socratic ideal of the wisdom of the examined life.
- Donald Phillip Verene, Philosophy and the Return to Self-Knowledge (1997), p. 191
- The bosom-weight, your stubborn gift,
That no philosophy can lift.
- William Wordsworth, Presentiments
- Why should not grave Philosophy be styled?
Herself, a dreamer of a kindred stock,
A dreamer, yet more spiritless and dull?
- William Wordsworth, The Excursion, Book III
- Philosophy is not a body of doctrine, but an activity.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922), § 4.112
- In philosophy the race is to the one who can run slowest—the one who crosses the finish line last.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (1998), p. 40