Philosophy (www.philosophy.com) sells a wide range of products, which are divided into five categories:

  1. Aesthetics (make-up)
  2. Logic (skin care)
  3. Metaphysics (fragrance and bath)
  4. Ethics (gifts and charity)
  5. Epistemology (books and music)

The names only get more and more cheesier- Soul Mates, Message in a Bottle, Falling in Love, Amazing Grace, Hope in a Jar, and so on. Perhaps they are targeting all those WASP women who really think they can find happiness through their indulgences in bath and body products.

As is hopefully quite well explained by an introduction to Philosophy teacher; there are two uses for the word Philosophy. I have heard them referred to as the weak use and the strong use.

First the weak use; which tends to muck things up when it comes to the strong use. You go through your life on a certain collection of principles you believe to be correct, and can confront more or less any situation with them. This is a philosophy. These can be held in a Dogmatic, Philosophical, or Subjective way and, depending on how you hold them, you may do some rash things because you hold the philosophy.

Second the strong use. Your walking along the street one day and suddenly you get the bright idea to wonder about all of those things you hold to be true. You think, "gee I seem to have made a lot of assumptions without seeing what kinds of logical problems they create." Now you have started on the path of doing Philosophy. If you were to buy into a philosophy in the weak sense like oh say a religion, you would likely hold all their views dogmatically. However, at some time you may have a Hindu friend who talks about his religion. So now you decide that you should really look at what you believe and why you believe it. You get lost on a thought trip; find yourself in Germany; begin really thinking about how you know what you know and why you can know it; and finally come to weird conclusions like cogito ergo sum. After questioning assumptions you try to build a logical foundation on fact (not opinion, which is a common misconception about Philosophy), and once you work out the kinks dialectically you come to have a good philosophy (yes in the weak since).

There are as was noted 5 branches of study in philosophy

I hope this either clears up the difference, or confuses you just enough to make you read more about philosophy.

A Civilization advance.
In ancient Greece, literacy and an interest in the natural world were common in a burgeoning upper class. These people had leisure time, and they devoted much of it to debate and reasoning. Popular topics for discussion were the principles of thinking and being, logic and mathematics, and the natures of reality and existence. They called the study of thought Philosophy.
Prerequisites: Literacy and Mysticism.
Allows for: The Democracy, Religion, Medicine, University, and Communism.

Back to The Everything Civilopedia...

Nowadays it seems like everything has a "philosophy". Marketing campaigns, people, companies - they all have "philosophies". Or rather, they think they do. Philosophy literally means "love of wisdom", but it is a term that has become overloaded with all manner of extra connotations and meanings over thousands of years. It means a bit more than simply holding opinions that you can defend. What it originally denoted when philosophy began is a relatively simple idea, if perhaps now a counterintuitive one.

Philosophy is the human capacity which aims to investigate questions that are of concern to man as man. This means that the issues it investigates are both timeless and transcend cultures. A concern with ideas that are specific to a particular culture and time are instead the hallmarks of what we call the "intellectual". The difference between Plato and an Ancient Greek intellectual is that Plato addressed topics that will concern man for evermore, which is why he is still read avidly today. And while these questions concern all cultures, their investigation via philosophy is not something that has occurred in all cultures - it is rather the unique contribution of the Greeks to western civilization.

Throughout history most cultures have addressed questions of first principles by reference to either gods or ancient heroes to whom they attribute their beginnings. Earlier generations were presumed to have had privileged access to divine knowledge which is now embodied in either scripture or tradition. Philosophy emerges when people notice the multiplicity of traditions and religions in the world and take it upon themselves to work from this diversity of opinion about questions such as how life ought to be lived and to try and work out, through their own capacity to reason, what the answers to various questions about life and the universe are.

Each of the branches of philosophy has at its core a question or set of questions that are of concern to man as man. For instance, political philosophy asks: What is freedom? What is justice? In a way, this is the most practical of all branches of philosophy because these are questions that every society must answer explicitly; and, they are questions that will concern people for as long as they must live together. They are hence the proper sphere of philosophy - an investigation of the first principles of man as a social and political being, and of the various possible ways in which people can live together. The limits of political philosophy are coeval with all the possible ways that politics might be organized, and it conists of a consideration of these possibilities.

To take another example, metaphysics asks: What is the nature of Being? "Being" sounds rather outdated now, and a more modern way of stating it is: What are energy and matter? For the longest time men sought the solution to this problem through the power of their minds alone, constructing grand theories from the ether - the idea of the atom originated in this fashion in Ancient Greece. But metaphysics has fallen severely out of fashion of late because it has been overtaken by empirical science, which in itself involves the philosophical choice of choosing to investigate the world through our sense-perception. Indeed, science can be viewed as the most successful branch of modern philosophy, as its efforts to ascertain the true nature of Being through empirical investigation rather than abstract metaphysical theorizing have delivered real results. And clearly, the true nature of energy and matter are of concern to man as man regardless of his culture and the period in which he lives.

Philosophy is then the human capacity which allows us to use our reason to transcend our immediate surroundings and turn ourselves to these larger questions. As such, it involves an alienation from one's immediate surroundings and the ability to question received wisdom. This is perhaps where philosophy derives its reputation for being irrelevant or somehow merely academic from - it certainly does not appear, at first glance, to address any concrete practical concern faced by people in their everyday lives.

Yet there is arguably no such thing as a free life that does not concern itself with the first principles of things and instead accepts them unthinkingly from its surroundings. And so the call has gone out from philosophers down the ages - go out and investigate the realm of ideas, but don't expect to be too welcome in the cave of real life if you want to come back burdened with what you have discovered.

The modern turn against philosophy is in a large attributable to the success of a specific form of knowledge, science, and its technological ramifications. A specific set of philosophical choices about the nature of the universe and of human knowledge have become so dominant and delivered such amazing results in terms of transforming the way that our societies function that all other possibilities seem to have sunk into the background. But even for Nietzsche to be able to declare that God is dead - that from now on we repudiate any belief in the immaterial, in philosophy's grand theories as much as in God - was itself a philosophical enterprise, an altering of ideas about the first principles of metaphysics, human living-together and knowledge.

These new assumptions serve us fine for now and appear to have vanquished in most people's mind the need for further philosophical speculation, except at the margins. We resemble, and not a little, the pre-philosophic peoples who place all their faith in the teachings of the past. But in a new world - a world, perhaps, of peak oil and climate change, or one dominated by a China which has developed without the influence of our western philosophy and has ideas very different of its own - we will need new philosophies and new investigations, for the engine in the current motor of our societies will have run out of gas. It is the comfort of philosophy students that as this time approaches, they are the gatekeepers of mankind's investigations into the first principles so far - just as the Arabs were during our Dark Ages, before transmitting Europe's past to her progency - and thus the hope for its continuation in the future.

David was calm, he was indifferent, he was final, he was necessary, he was certain: this was the mix that the group felt but did not name, while they huddled behind each other and whispered their secrets.

The classroom had five rows of chairs, and the chairs held David and the group. David sat, unmoving, and bound his eyes to a book. A sudden noise from the group disturbed him. He glanced over, and saw that two large boys had pinned a weaker boy to his desk by his hair. The noise had been laughter - the sound of nineteen students laughing as one. David's face melted into an expression of pity until he saw that the coward was laughing along with them. He felt a shutter fall between himself and the others, an irresistible indifference, and he buried himself in his book again.

David wished he had a better word for the group than "cloud," because the droplets of a cloud can be told apart if you look closely enough. But there was no better word for his feeling toward them. He saw the smiles reflecting smiles, and the whispers of praise and contempt which only signified the presence or absence of the person being discussed. It was as if they were trying to slip from matter into motion to escape the responsibility of a definite form - as if they wished to be like so many ripples merging in a pond. David understood them, so he left them alone.

Something swept the book out of David's hand. He looked up. Five burly boys stood in front of him. He could not tell which of them had taken his book. He could have figured it out if any of them showed a sign of guilt, but they were acting in a group, and they had accepted the idea that guilt does not exist when one acts in a group. Two of the boys were laughing, and David noticed that the laughter went on long after anything funny was happening, as if the source of each boy's happiness was not the world but the opinion of the other boy. David watched them with the calm contempt only possible to a person certain of his own worth.

David turned his head to look into the eyes of the nearest brute. "What do you want?"

The boy blinked twice, like a person whose eyes are not used to daylight. His head twitched slightly, and he glanced at the other boys as if he wished that the "you" had been plural rather than singular. But they looked at the floor or threw forced smirks at David rather than meet the glance, so the boy answered. He spoke in starts and stops as if his mind had to be set back on the path of thought every so often, like a small child learning to walk in a straight line.

"Yeah, so none of us really know how to answer this question on the assignment, and we figured that since you're kind of, you know, good at school and stuff you could, maybe, do something there, or whatever."

"You want me to do your homework."

The boy did not answer.

"I won't - but. One of you stole my book. Keep it and read it. That is all I will say."

David could not tell which of them had the book when they walked back to the group. He did not know if they would actually read the book. He knew that people like them didn't read many books, so the odds were against him. But if they did.

One week later, when David was walking back to class after lunch, there was a pattern of sound he had not heard for years. It was like the sound he heard when he stood near a highway, and cars motored past him first in one direction, then the other. There was a word for this that he had forgotten - what was it called? He saw a small group huddled against a wall, and heard two voices meet one another to bounce rather than merge. Ah, yes, he was hearing an argument.

Who Am I?

Who am I? I want to know so badly. What is my purpose here, on Earth? I have yet to recieve an answer. I am beginning to think that one does not recieve such things. One wills what one wants to will. I am sure science has much to say on the subject, but for once in my life, I am not interested in the specifics.

The conscious mind works wonders. It is the key to the greatness of man. But it can not work alone. I have tried to function only with my conscious mind. It is impossible. This means that superstition will always have a place amongst us. We are men, the great conquerors of the Earth. But we can not forget who we really are, or who we really come from.

Those who came before live on in us. This means that those who came before them do so as well. The Gorillas and the Chimps, and our common ancestors, and the common ancestors before them, they all live on within every one of us, beautiful copies of some distant bacterium with which we no longer share the world. Except we do. There is no division between us and that first single-celled organism. And therefore, there is no division between ourselves and our neighbors, for we are all the same one.

Every day, I wake up and wonder, "What will I do?" Luxury breeds its own problems. Once the stomach and the loins are satisfied, the mind is left up to its own devices, and I can think of no better stall cycle than religion. Worship. It is intensive, motivated, and above all, cyclical.

The praying man radiates so much psychic energy off from his scalp, that he has no choice but to be satisfied with his life. The great consistency of prayer is an escape valve, from which we let off all of the pent up energy from the neocortex.

One might not wish to pray to God. Some might think that God does not exist, as I do. It does not matter. Ritual is the most important part of any religion, and ritual makes no allegiances to one god or another, or any God at all. But all the same, there is no happier man than he who follows his own rythyms.

I had difficulty deciding where this document should go. I am placing it under this node because I believe the sentiments contained herein to be universally sympathetic. Thank You.

Phi*los"o*phy (?), n.; pl. Philosophies (#). [OE. philosophie, F. philosophie, L. philosophia, from Gr. . See Philosopher.]

1.

Literally, the love of, including the search after, wisdom; in actual usage, the knowledge of phenomena as explained by, and resolved into, causes and reasons, powers and laws.

When applied to any particular department of knowledge, philosophy denotes the general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena or facts relating to that subject are comprehended. Thus philosophy, when applied to God and the divine government, is called theology; when applied to material objects, it is called physics; when it treats of man, it is called anthropology and psychology, with which are connected logic and ethics; when it treats of the necessary conceptions and relations by which philosophy is possible, it is called metaphysics.

"Philosophy has been defined: tionscience of things divine and human, and the causes in which they are contained; -- the science of effects by their causes; -- the science of sufficient reasons; -- the science of things possible, inasmuch as they are possible; -- the science of things evidently deduced from first principles; -- the science of truths sensible and abstract; -- the application of reason to its legitimate objects; -- the science of the relations of all knowledge to the necessary ends of human reason; -- the science of the original form of the ego, or mental self; -- the science of science; -- the science of the absolute; -- the scienceof the absolute indifference of the ideal and real."

Sir W. Hamilton.

2.

A particular philosophical system or theory; the hypothesis by which particular phenomena are explained.

[Books] of Aristotle and his philosophie. Chaucer.

We shall in vain interpret their words by the notions of our philosophy and the doctrines in our school. Locke.

3.

Practical wisdom; calmness of temper and judgment; equanimity; fortitude; stoicism; as, to meet misfortune with philosophy.

Then had he spent all his philosophy. Chaucer.

4.

Reasoning; argumentation.

Of good and evil much they argued then, . . . Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy. Milton.

5.

The course of sciences read in the schools.

Johnson.

6.

A treatise on philosophy.

Philosophy of the Academy, that of Plato, who taught his disciples in a grove in Athens called the Academy. -- Philosophy of the Garden, that of Epicurus, who taught in a garden in Athens. -- Philosophy of the Lyceum, that of Aristotle, the founder of the Peripatetic school, who delivered his lectures in the Lyceum at Athens. -- Philosophy of the Porch, that of Zeno and the Stoics; -- so called because Zeno of Citium and his successors taught in the porch of the Poicile, a great hall in Athens.

 

© Webster 1913.

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