August 19, 2022

Philosophy or philosophy is the oldest theoretical discipline expressing the desire and pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. It first really emerged in the 6th century BC. A practitioner of philosophy is called a philosopher or philosopher. In everyday parlance, the term philosophy is used to denote any kind of wisdom or philosophy (as in "one's philosophy") or one's principles (as in "it doesn't fit the philosophy behind this plan"). This differs from the concept of philosophy in an academic context, as used in this article.

Origin of the concept of philosophy

In ancient Greek, the word philosophía (φιλοσοφία) is a compound of the words for love (φιλέω I love, φιλεῖν love, φίλος friend, φιλία friendship) and for wisdom (σοφία wisdom). So originally philosophy simply meant "love of wisdom". The word philosopher thus replaced the word sophist, which was used to denote "wise men" or teachers of rhetoric. Some of the early sophists were what we would now call philosophers. In Plato's dialogues, Socrates often pits philosophers against sophists, whom Socrates characterizes as dishonest and destructive, because they camouflage their ignorance with puns and flattery, and try to convince others of what is untrue and groundless. Aristotle took this view of the sophists from Socrates and Plato. "Sophist" is therefore still a contemptuous expression for those who want to convince others with their rhetoric without any interest in wisdom or truth. The introduction of the term "philosophy" was attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras: "De vita et moribus philosophorum", I, 12; Cicero: "Tusculanae disputationes", V, 8-9). This reference is probably based on a lost work by Herakleides Pontikos, a student of Aristotle. It is considered part of the widespread Pythagorean legends of the time. In reality, the term "philosophy" was not used until well before Plato. Philosophy and 'philosophizing', according to Aristotle, was the loftiest and most divine activity for man, completing them naturally and being a source of joy. In his "Invitation to Philosophy" we read: "...for intelligence is the god in us..." and "Material life has a divine part", and further: "Thus man is obliged to philosophize or else farewell to life; for all other activities are mere baubles in relation to philosophizing." It is a misconception that the scientist Simon Stevin coined the word "philosophy", as it first appeared in 1661.

Possible definitions and delineation

For some the definition of philosophy is unambiguous, while for others it is itself a metaphilosophical problem. One possible description is that it is the study of the meaning and validity of our thinking and our beliefs about the most general and universal aspects of existence (universe, entities or subjects, objects or things and their relationship forms). This study is not particularly conducted by experiment or careful observation. This is why philosophy is not an empirical but a normative science. It is based on reasoning and thought experiments, by carefully formulating the philosophical problems and by looking for solutions and arguments that support these solutions, rather than conducting empirical experiments. There can therefore never be any empirical evidence for a particular philosophical view or theory. It is even pointless to ask for such proofs of, for example, Plato's theory of ideas. Some empirical scientists are therefore inclined to conclude that philosophy is not a science. Over there