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Auguste_Rodin_-_Grubleren_2005-02(The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin)

Philosophy, from ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (composed of φιλεῖν, philein “love”; and σοφία, sophia, “wisdom”) literally means “love of wisdom”. It is an activity and discipline existing since antiquity in the West and East, posing as a questioning, interpretation and reflection on the world and human existence. Different goals can be attributed to: the search for truth; meditation on the good, beautiful, justice; the quest for the meaning of life and happiness.

The philosophy is not knowledge, nor body of knowledge, but a process of reflection on available knowledge. From its origins rooted in dialogue and debate of ideas, it can be seen as an activity analysis, definition, creation or meditation on concepts.

Unlike the natural sciences, the formal sciences and humanities, to which it is closely linked with its history, philosophy does not give itself a subject of particular and unique study. However, it can be found in the philosophy distinct areas of study, such as logic, ethics, metaphysics, political philosophy and theory of knowledge. During the history, other disciplines have joined the basic branches of philosophy, such as aesthetics, philosophy of law, philosophy of science (also known as epistemology), philosophy of mind, the philosophical anthropology and philosophy of language.

Western philosophy

Contemporary Western philosophy comes from a multiple tradition in various forms: hermeneutics and post-Kantian tradition in Germany, analytic philosophy in English-speaking countries and in much of Europe, phenomenological tradition in continental Europe. Some raise serious questions about the philosophical tradition and its assumptions as feminist philosophy, Derrida or Heidegger deconstruction. These currents include so many different practices and different views on the nature of philosophy, which prohibit providing a single acceptable definition to all. If there are today several philosophical traditions, none can claim summarize philosophical activity alone or describe the philosophical activity of consensus.

The difficulties in defining philosophy are also epistemological in nature, because it is difficult to rigorously define methods, themes and objects of philosophy. Historically, it indeed inspired other disciplines (mathematics, or positive sciences). Yet, it never succeeded in developing a method or set of methods that have succeeded in establishing itself among philosophers (like the experimental method has emerged in physics and chemistry, for example). Additionally amalgam between philosophy and other disciplines are more favored by a tradition of philosophers with very different interests. Aristotle also has been same time a logician, philosopher and naturalist. Determine the social function of a philosopher is not easy. Most of the activities formerly belonging to the discipline have now become autonomous (psychology, natural sciences, etc.), and the own domain of philosophy is reduced.

But it is also difficult to determine the essence of Western philosophy, due to its status in society is itself difficult to define, or because it was reduced to other seemingly related disciplines. Since ancient times, for example, Socrates was confused in The Clouds by Aristophanes with the Sophists, which Plato presents us yet as his opponents in his dialogues.

Immanuel Kant brought the field of philosophy to four questions: “What do I know? What should I do? What is it I hope for? What Is Man? “.

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