philosophy def

Philosophy as an intellectual activity can be variously defined, depending on whether the emphasis is placed on its method, its subject-matter or its purpose. The very first question is of much importance to define and discuss the nature of philosophy. This inquiry into the nature of philosophy is called “meta-philosophy”. Philosophy is an open-ended, pioneering discipline, forever opening up new areas of study and new methods of inquiry. Here we will discuss the meaning of philosophy and try to define philosophy.

Etymological Meaning

The word “philosophy” comes from the Greek (philosophia), which literally means “love of wisdom” Etymologically, philosophy means love of wisdom but functionally it means both the seeking of wisdom (process) and the wisdom sought (product).Literal meaning therefore, philosophy means love of wisdom not “love of knowledge”. That is an important distinction. The pioneers of philosophy were interested in the kind of knowledge that enables human to live a good life and that kind of knowledge is what we call “wisdom”.

Going by this literal meaning a philosopher is most of the time and at the most of the place is preoccupied with the search for truth and wisdom. He pays little attention to the conclusions he searches in cause of his search. His search is endless because the truth is infinite. He wants to keep himself always engaged in this pursuit of truth rather than its possession. What philosophy is?, this question, has baffled the philosophers and thinkers from ancient times.

Definitions of Philosophy

Philosophy is a critical approach to the human life, all objective events and to all scientific knowledge, which is the essence of all knowledge, sciences and the human life. Here are some definition of philosophy given by famous philosophers:

  • Philosophy is t]hat which grasps its own era in thought.” — [ Hegel]
  • Philosophy is a]n interpretation of the world in order to change it.” — [ Karl Marx]
  • “… [philosophy] is the acquisition of knowledge.” — [Plato]
  • Philosophy is the science which investigates the nature of being, as it is in itself.— [Aristotle]
  • Philosophy is a science of sciences.—  [Comte]
  • Philosophy is the science and criticism of cognition.— [Immanuel Kant]
  • Philosophy in full sense is only man’s thinking.— [William James]”मानव-जीवन के विविध पक्षों का बौधिक- अवधारणात्मक चिन्तन या ऐसे चिन्तन का आलोचनात्मक मूल्यांकन दर्शन है।” (Pure rational-conceptual thought regarding different aspects of human life or a critical thought over such kind of thoughts may be called as philosophy.)Sources:
  • As we know that philosophy is an academic subject of study and it is progressive. It is a way of being in the world- of questioning it, interacting with it, and responding to it. The subject-matter of philosophy change with the span of time but it is philosophical attitude which give human being a quality of thinking and reflecting which differentiate him from other creatures of the world.
  • Compositional Definition of Philosophy
  • Richard E. Creel, Thinking Philosophically: An Introduction to Critical Reflection and Rational Dialogue, Wiley-Blackwell, 2001.
  • BA First Year (Notes), Philosophy, Paper-I, USOL, Panjab University Chandigarh.

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