the school of athens
(1509–1511) by raphael
, depicting famous classical greek philosophers
in an idealized setting inspired by ancient greek architecture
|part of philosophy|
- social and political philosophers
- political philosophy
- legal philosophy
- political philosophy
- social philosophy
- women in philosophy
philosophy (from greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. the term was probably coined by pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 bce). philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. classic philosophical questions include: is it possible to know anything and to prove it? what is most real? philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: is there a best way to live? is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)? do humans have free will?
historically, "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. from the time of ancient greek philosopher aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy, medicine, and physics. for example, newton's 1687 mathematical principles of natural philosophy later became classified as a book of physics. in the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize. in the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics.
other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. for example, is beauty objective or subjective? are there many scientific methods or just one? is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy? major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics ("concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being"), epistemology (about the "nature and grounds of knowledge [and]...its limits and validity"), ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, logic and philosophy of science.