Outline of philosophy

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing fundamental questions (such as mysticism, myth, or religion) by being critical and generally systematic and by its reliance on rational argument.[3] It involves logical analysis of language and clarification of the meaning of words and concepts.

The word "philosophy" comes from the Greek philosophia (φιλοσοφία), which literally means "love of wisdom".[4][5][6]

Branches of philosophyEdit

The branches of philosophy and their sub-branches that are used in contemporary philosophy are as follows.


Aesthetics is study of the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and the creation of personal kinds of truth.


Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies the source, nature and validity of knowledge.


Ethics – study of value and morality.

  • Applied ethics – philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life that are matters of moral judgment. It is thus the attempts to use philosophical methods to identify the morally correct course of action in various fields of human life.
    • Bioethics – analysis of controversial ethical issues emerging from advances in medicine.
    • Environmental ethics – studies ethical issues concerning the non-human world. It exerts influence on a large range of disciplines including environmental law, environmental sociology, ecotheology, ecological economics, ecology and environmental geography.
    • Medical ethics – studies ethical issues concerning medicine and medical research
    • Professional ethics – ethics to improve professionalism
  • Descriptive ethics – study of people's beliefs about morality
  • Discourse ethics – discovery of ethical principles through the study of language
  • Formal ethics – discovery of ethical principles through the application of logic
  • Normative ethics – study of ethical theories that prescribe how people ought to act
  • Metaethics – branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes, and judgments


Logic – the systematic study of the form of valid inference and reasoning.


Metaphysics – concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it.

  • Ontology – philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.
  • Philosophy of space and time – branch of philosophy concerned with the issues surrounding the ontology, epistemology, and character of space and time.

Philosophy of mindEdit

Philosophy of mind – studies the nature of the mind, mental properties, consciousness, and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain.

  • Philosophy of action – theories about the processes causing willful human bodily movements of a more or less complex kind. This area of thought has attracted the strong interest of philosophers ever since Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Third Book).
  • Philosophy of self – The philosophy of self is the study of the many conditions of identity that make one subject of experience distinct from other experiences

Philosophy of scienceEdit

Philosophy of science – the branch of philosophy dealing with the epistemology, methodology and foundations of science


Philosophic traditions by regionEdit

Regional variations of philosophy.

Africana philosophyEdit

Eastern philosophyEdit

Middle Eastern PhilosophyEdit

Indigenous American philosophyEdit

Western philosophyEdit

History of philosophyEdit

The history of philosophy in specific contexts of time and space.

Timeline of philosophyEdit

Ancient and classical philosophyEdit

Philosophies during ancient history.

Ancient Greek and Roman philosophyEdit

Classical Chinese philosophyEdit

Classical Indian philosophyEdit

Medieval and post-classical philosophyEdit

Philosophies during post-classical history.

Christian philosophyEdit

Islamic philosophyEdit

Jewish philosophyEdit

Post-classical Chinese philosophyEdit

Modern and contemporary philosophyEdit

Philosophies during the modern era.

Renaissance philosophyEdit

Early modern philosophyEdit

Contemporary philosophyEdit

Philosophical schools of thoughtEdit

Philosophical schools of thought not tied to particular historic contexts.

Aesthetical movementsEdit

Epistemological stancesEdit

Ethical theoriesEdit

Logical systemsEdit

Metaphysical stancesEdit

Political philosophiesEdit

Philosophy of language theories and stancesEdit

Philosophy of mind theories and stancesEdit

Philosophy of religion stancesEdit

Philosophy of science theories and stancesEdit

Philosophical literatureEdit

Reference worksEdit

  • Encyclopedia of Philosophy – one of the major English encyclopedias of philosophy. The second edition, edited by Donald M. Borchert, was published in ten volumes in 2006 by Thomson Gale. Volumes 1–9 contain alphabetically ordered articles.
  • Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – a free online encyclopedia on philosophical topics and philosophers founded by James Fieser in 1995. The current general editors are James Fieser (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee at Martin) and Bradley Dowden (Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Sacramento). The staff also includes numerous area editors as well as volunteers.
  • Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy – encyclopedia of philosophy edited by Edward Craig that was first published by Routledge in 1998 (ISBN 978-0415073103). Originally published in both 10 volumes of print and as a CD-ROM, in 2002 it was made available online on a subscription basis. The online version is regularly updated with new articles and revisions to existing articles. It has 1,300 contributors providing over 2,000 scholarly articles.
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely-accessible to internet users. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from many academic institutions worldwide.


Lists of philosophers

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jenny Teichmann and Katherine C. Evans, Philosophy: A Beginner's Guide (Blackwell Publishing, 1999), p. 1: "Philosophy is a study of problems which are ultimate, abstract and very general. These problems are concerned with the nature of existence, knowledge, morality, reason and human purpose."
  2. ^ A.C. Grayling, Philosophy 1: A Guide through the Subject (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 1: "The aim of philosophical inquiry is to gain insight into questions about knowledge, truth, reason, reality, meaning, mind, and value."
  3. ^ Anthony Quinton, in T. Honderich (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 666: "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 the conduct of life (ethics or theory of value). Each of the three elements in this list has a non-philosophical counterpart, from which it is distinguished by its explicitly rational and critical way of proceeding and by its systematic nature. Everyone has some general conception of the nature of the world in which they live and of their place in it. Metaphysics replaces the unargued assumptions embodied in such a conception with a rational and organized body of beliefs about the world as a whole. Everyone has occasion to doubt and question beliefs, their own or those of others, with more or less success and without any theory of what they are doing. Epistemology seeks by argument to make explicit the rules of correct belief formation. Everyone governs their conduct by directing it to desired or valued ends. Ethics, or moral philosophy, in its most inclusive sense, seeks to articulate, in rationally systematic form, the rules or principles involved."
  4. ^ Philosophia, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  5. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  6. ^ The definition of philosophy is: "1.orig., love of, or the search for, wisdom or knowledge 2.theory or logical analysis of the principles underlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe". Webster's New World Dictionary (Second College ed.).

External linksEdit