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Humanities Libertexts

1: What Philosophy Is

  • Page ID
    17567
    • 1.1: What is philosophy?
      We can get a better understanding of philosophy by considering what sorts of things other than scientific issues humans might inquire into. Philosophical issues are as diverse and far ranging as those we find in the sciences, but a great many of them fall into one of three big topic areas, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.
    • 1.2: Metaphysics
      Metaphysical issues are concerned with the nature of reality. Traditional metaphysical issues include the existence of God and the nature of human free will (assuming we have any). Here are a few metaphysical questions of interest to contemporary philosophers: What is a thing? How are space and time related? Does the past exist? How about the future? How many dimensions does the world have? Are there any entities beyond physical objects (like numbers, properties, and relations)?
    • 1.3: Epistemology
    • 1.4: Ethics
      Ethics is concerned with what we ought to do, how we ought to live, and how we ought to organize our communities. It comes as a surprise to many new philosophy students that you can reason about such things. Religiously inspired views about morality often take right and wrong to be simply a matter of what is commanded by a divine being. Moral Relativism, perhaps the most popular opinion among people who have rejected faith, simply substitutes the commands of society for the commands of God.
    • 1.5: What is the value of philosophy?
    • 1.6: The Value of Philosophy
    • 1.7: Review and Discussion Questions

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