Definitions of philosophy

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Definitions of philosophy

Quotes[edit]

  1. To give a speculative, systematic, complete view of reality;
  2. To describe the ultimate, real, nature of reality;
  3. To determine the limits, scope, source, nature, validity, and value, of knowledge;
  4. The critical inquiry regarding the presuppositions, and claims, made by the different fields of knowledge; and
  5. A discipline to get you to "see" what you say and say what you "see."
    • Peter A. Angeles (1981) Dictionary to Philosophy New York: Barnes & Noble Books, p.211
    • Angeles gave six distinct aspects of philosophy. First he notes that the meanings of philosophy are as diverse as philosophers are. Then he gave his subsequent list of five "basic definitions" of "attempts".
  • ... [that] philosophy only is the true one which reproduces most faithfully the statements of nature, and is written down, as it were, from nature's dictation, so that it is nothing but a copy and a reflection of nature, and adds nothing of its own, but is merely a repetition and echo.
  • Philosophy, being nothing but the study of wisdom and truth...
    • George Berkeley A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Introduction, §1'
  • Philosophy is that which grasps its own era in thought.
    • Hegel| Elements of the Philosophy of Rights; 1821
  • Philosophy is the science by which the natural light of reason studies the first causes or highest principles of all things – is, in other words, the science of things in their first causes, in so far as these belong to the natural order.
  • Philosophy is an interpretation of the world in order to change it.
    • Karl Marx cited in: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry by Jonathan Wolff
  • [Philosophers] are not honest enough in their work, although they make a lot of virtuous noise when the problem of truthfulness is touched even remotely. They all pose as if they had discovered and reached their real opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic...; while at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed a kind of “inspiration”—most often a desire of the heart that has been filtered and made abstract—that they defend with reasons they have sought after the fact.
  • To grasp the limits of reason – only this is truly philosophy.
  • Philosophy is the acquisition of knowledge.
    • Plato, Euthydemus, 288d.
  • ...for wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.
  • The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
  • Most definitions of philosophy are fairly controversial, particularly if they aim to be at all interesting or profound. That is partly because what has been called philosophy has changed radically in scope in the course of history, with many inquiries that were originally part of it having detached themselves from it. The shortest definition, and it is quite a good one, is that philosophy is thinking about thinking. That brings out the generally second-order character of the subject, as reflective thought about particular kinds of thinking — formation of beliefs, claims to knowledge — about the world or large parts of it.
    A more detailed, but still uncontroversial comprehensive, definition is that philosophy is rationally critical thinking, of a more or less systematic kind about the general nature of the world (metaphysics or theory of existence), the justification of belief (epistemology or theory of knowledge), and and the conduct of life (ethics or theory of value). Each of these three elements...
    • Anthony Quinton (b. 1925-) published in: Ted Honderich ed (1995) The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press
  • To repeat abstractly, universally, and distinctly in concepts the whole inner nature of the world, and thus to deposit it as a reflected image in permanent concepts always ready for the faculty of reason, this and nothing else is philosophy.
  • The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a theory but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. The result of philosophy is not a number of ‘philosophical propositions’, but to make propositions clear. Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.