What is philosophy?

In this article we will try to figure out what philosophy is or what philosophy is. Let's say at once: we do not pretend to absolute objectivity and scientificness, but just want to give an idea of ​​philosophy to those who know little or nothing about this most interesting subject. We begin, as usual, with the origin of the word, and then we proceed to the scientific definition of philosophy and the description of its sections and research methods.

What does philosophy mean?

The word "philosophy", like many other names of objects and scientific disciplines, came to us from the ancient Greek language. It is worth noting that the ancient Greek borrowings in the Russian language a great many, and especially a lot of them in the scientific apparatus of almost any discipline. The word "philosophy" consists of two Greek words: ????? (reads as "filia") - love and ????? (reads "sophia") - wisdom. Thus, we have obtained the direct meaning of this subject. Philosophy is the love of wisdom.

If we talk about what is the subject of philosophy, then we can characterize philosophy as a science that studies the fundamental principles of existence (of man and the world) and of knowledge (of man of the world).In other words, philosophy is the discipline that tries to answer the question of how the world works and what is the place of a person in it. Now let's talk about this in more detail.

What philosophy studies - the essence of science

Here we will not reinvent the wheel and just tell you about the traditional definitions. The fact is that scientists-philosophers do not like to give any definitions of philosophy, quite often saying that such definitions simply do not exist. However, the beginner of the study of this subject (at will or need) such definitions are still needed.

So, philosophy is engaged in the study of the root causes, the foundations of existence, existence. These are the universal principles by which being and thinking, which try to know being, exist and change. From the point of view of traditional philosophy, being is both conceivable and thought. That is, the subject and the thought of it are one and the same. Philosophers have long understood that in their variants and particulars the imaginable is boundless. Therefore, they began to focus on general categories and the root causes of existence. The difficulty, however, lies in the fact that these categories are different for each epoch and, moreover, for each philosophical trend.We will not talk about philosophical trends and schools, but we will immediately move on to sections of philosophy. Firstly, there are a lot of schools of philosophy, and secondly, each area deserves special attention and a separate article.

Sections of philosophy

Philosophy is a very complex science, since the subject of its study is complex. That is why there are still no clear boundaries in the definition of its disciplines or sections. Therefore, we will rely here on the traditional division. Traditionally, philosophy includes such sections as ontology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics and epistemology. Now consider each of them in more detail.


Ontology is engaged in the study of being itself, the foundations of existence, that is, the most common issues. In essence, ontology is an attempt at the most general description of being, existence without being tied to any discipline. This discipline is trying to cognize being as the unity and totality of all types of reality: objective, subjective, real, virtual and physical.


Metaphysics is a discipline exploring the original nature of reality, answering the question of where everything came from.Thus, metaphysics tries to find out the true nature and cause of the emergence of being and the real world. There are so-called metaphysical questions, the answers to which at each time were and probably will be their own. The main questions (which are generally the same) are as follows: What are the beginnings of the beginnings? What are the origins of the origins? What is the reason for the reasons? If ontology is concerned with the study of existence itself, then metaphysics is the study of the cause of existence.


Logic is also referred to sections of philosophy, because it studies thinking: how it works, what laws exist, what forms it has. In essence, logic is the science of cognitive intellectual activity, as well as the science of the laws and forms of correct thinking. Also, logic is often called the science of methods of reasoning and methods of evidence and refutations, since thinking in a language is formulated as reasoning.


Ethics is engaged in the study of morality and morality in a general sense, as well as the moral and moral norms of various social groups and strata of society. Here are three main problems that ethics has been trying to solve for many centuries:

  1. The problem of the appointment of man and the meaning of life.
  2. The problem of determining the criteria of good and evil.
  3. The problem of justice.


Aesthetics is engaged in the study of sensual, aesthetic perception of reality. In a general sense, it is an attitude towards art and nature, a manifestation of high feelings in the enjoyment of something or in creativity. Aesthetics are often called the doctrine of the essence of the beautiful and its forms in life in nature and in artistic creation. As for art, it is one of the main objects of aesthetics research, as a special form of social consciousness.

Epistemology (epistemology)

And a few words about epistemology. There is a scientific synonym for this word - gnoseology. In fact, epistemology (or gnoseology) studies the possibility of a person knowing the world as a whole and himself in the world. Thus, for epistemology, the main problem is the problem of knowing the truth and the meaning of existence. Here again, we will not go into details, since each school and each major scientist-philosopher answer this question differently.

Philosophical research methods

There are several basic methods by which philosophers realize the knowledge of being and existence.These are methods such as metaphysics, dialectics, eclecticism, dogmatism, hermeneutics and sophistry. Now a few words about each of them.

  1. Metaphysics is a method of cognition in which all objects are treated separately, statically and unequivocally. That is, all objects are investigated on their own, without interrelations between them, without taking into account development and changes, and also without taking into account possible internal contradictions.
  2. Dialectics, in contrast to metaphysics, considers objects in view of their changes and development, as well as internal contradictions, unity and struggle of opposites, causes and effects.
  3. The eclectic method of cognition consists in the arbitrary combination of various disparate facts, concepts, concepts, etc., which do not have a single beginning. As a result, very superficial conclusions are obtained, which seem, however, to be very plausible and attractive. Throughout the ages, this method has been claimed by those who needed to shape mass consciousness and public opinion.
  4. Dogmatic knowledge of the world is carried out with the help of clearly defined and accepted dogmas - unprovable beliefs that are absolute.This method is now practically not used and was more characteristic of medieval philosophers.
  5. Hermeneutics is both a philosophical, linguistic, and literary term. The essence of hermeneutics is the correct interpretation of the meaning of a text, which leads to more objective results from the point of view of science.
  6. Sophistry is a method of deriving logically correct, but essentially false premises, used more for victories in disputes and conflicts than in the knowledge of the truth than philosophy should do.

There are also several philosophical trends that can be called methods of philosophy. These are materialism, idealism, rationalism and empiricism.

  1. Materialism implies a realistic perception of matter, in which reality is perceived completely real. Consciousness materialists refer to parts of matter.
  2. Idealists perceive matter as a derivative idea of ​​consciousness, the fundamental idea that spawned everything around.
  3. The rationalists firmly believe that truth can only be understood by reason. However, they deny the influence of personal experience and sensations.
  4. Empiricism, on the contrary, recognizes knowledge only as a result of its own, personal experience and sensual feelings.

So, we reviewed the main sections of philosophy and methods of cognition, found out what philosophy is. We think that you understand now that philosophy is a very, very difficult discipline. But what does philosophy give to an ordinary person? In fact, very much. The question of what is the meaning of philosophy can be answered as follows. Philosophy largely forms a person's worldview, forcing him to think about his place in the world, about the basic categories of being, moral norms and behavior in society.