The word philosophy originates from the Greek work “philosophia” which translates to “love of wisdom.”
The easy answers to such profound matters as the creation of human existence or the complexity of the human mind can be found in the basic concepts of religion and mysticism. But, while religion and mysticism require belief and faith, philosophy is based entirely upon logical thought and rationality. In short, philosophers think about what humans believe and attempt to find out why by asking questions.
For instance, a question such as "What is truth?", could be answered in a thousand different ways by various religions, theories, concepts and beliefs. And, all of these answers would most likely be acceptable to the various followers of those religions, theories, concepts and beliefs. To a philosopher, however, the answer would require concrete proof. So, in order to answer the question a series of other questions would have to ensue including "What isn't truth?"
Philosophy can be described as a journey into the deeper meaning of both the ordinary and the extraordinary. A philosopher takes nothing at face value, but rather seeks and deciphers the wisdom hidden within even the simplest of beliefs, ideas, theories and concepts.
The practice of philosophy most likely came into being the first time a human being asked "Why?". Children are natural philosophers asking that same question over and over again until they are either satisfied with the answer or forget the question in pursuit of their next adventure. Perhaps as we get older we forget to be inquisitive in our quest to just fit in and do that which is acceptable within our families, societies and cultures. A study in philosophy opens up new and exciting avenues of thought and compels us to look at the world through the eyes of wisdom.
Philosophy generally falls into several categories and sub-categories including, but not limited to:
Metaphysics which is subdivided into three other categories that include ontology, the philosophy of the mind, and the philosophy of religion.
Ontology is the study of real life and living things and asks questions such as: "What is reality?" and "Do other worlds exist?"
The philosophy of the mind includes questions such as: "What is consciousness?" and "Do people have free will?"
The philosophy of religion may ask: "Do people have souls?" and "Is there a God that created the Universe?"
Epistemology is the study of knowledge and includes questions about truth and science such as “What is truth?” and “What is knowledge?”
Ethics is the study of morals and behavior and poses questions concerning right and wrong and good and bad such as “What is the difference between good and evil?” and “What are ethics?”
The study of aesthetics includes questions based on how humankind perceives beauty such as “Why do some people find a work of art beautiful while others do not?” and “What is beauty?”
And, the categories of logic and axiology include questions about meaning, ideas and language as well as our understanding about what is valuable and what is not such as “Why do different cultures place value on different things?”
Philosophy is a fun and thought provoking way to find answers to questions. Just don’t try and out question your four year old. Chances are you will lose the debate!