Philosophy

The investigation of fundamental issues by rational argument

Table of Contents

  1. Nature of Philosophy
  2. Subject Matter of Philosophy
    1. Any Fundamental Issue
    2. Traditional Branches
    3. Philosophies of [Topic]
  3. Philosophic Method
  4. Philosophic Mindset
  5. The Importance of Philosophy
  6. Investigating Fundamental Issues
  7. Example of a Philosophical Investigation: What happens to you when you die?
Nature of Philosophy
  • Philosophy is the investigation of fundamental issues by rational argument.
Subject Matter of Philosophy
Any Fundamental Issue
  • The subject matter of philosophy is any fundamental issue.
  • Britannica Western Philosophy
    • “[Philosophy] has no explicitly designated subject matter of its own but is a method or type of mental operation (like science or history) that can take any area or subject matter or type of experience as its object.”
Traditional Branches
  • Epistemology is the investigation of knowledge and rational belief.
    • A Priori and a Posteriori Knowledge, Analysis of Knowledge, Arguments, Probability, Rational Belief, Skepticism
    • View Epistemology
  • Metaphysics is the investigation of basic questions about reality.
    • Abstract Entities, Afterlife, Causation, Free will, God and Supernatural Beings, Identity through Time, Matter and Consciousness, Modality, Persons, Space and Time
    • View Metaphysics
  • Logic is the investigation of valid reasoning
    • Applied Logic, Arguments, Axiom Systems, Decision Theory, Deductive Logic, Probability Theory, Syllogisms and Venn Diagrams
    • View Logic
  • Ethics is the investigation of right and wrong, good and bad, and what should be done
    • Normative Ethics, Applied Ethics, Metaethics
    • View Ethics
  • Political Philosophy is the normative and conceptual inquiry into forms of government
    • Electoral Systems, Equality, Fairness, Forms of Government, Justice, Liberty, Libertarianism, Property, Representation, Rights, Welfare State
    • View Political Philosophy
Philosophies of [Topic]
  • The subject matter of philosophy has diversified from the traditional branches into groups of issues under the heading Philosophies of [Topic].
  • For example:
Philosophic Method
  • The fundamental method of philosophy is the analysis of arguments, more aptly described as critical thinking with a vengeance.
  • An argument is a piece of reasoning, from premises to a conclusion.
  • Analyzing an argument comprises:
    • Formulating the argument so its premises, conclusion, and reasoning are clear
    • Evaluating the argument
      • determining whether the premises are true.
      • determining whether the argument’s reasoning is sound.
  • The analysis of arguments has become very sophisticated since 1900, with an emphasis on clarity and precision, a better understanding of language, and the development of formal logic, probability theory, and decision theory.
  • The quality of arguments has vastly improved over the centuries
Philosophic Mindset
  • There are two conflicting drivers of belief:
  • The philosophic mindset is Skepticism, the disposition to believe only on the basis of rational argument.
The Importance of Philosophy
  • Millions of Americans believe that Biden was not legitimately elected president.
  • Yet it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Biden’s election was legitimate.
  • Millions of Americans thus believe — irrationally —that the president of the United States was not legitimately elected, a belief on which they may well act, e.g. vote.
  • What makes philosophy so important today are its method —the analysis of arguments — and the skeptical mindset driving it.
Investigating Fundamental Issues
Example of a Philosophical Investigation:
What happens to you when you die?

View Afterlife