Thought

Exploring Philosophy

The subjects that Philosophy covers are many, and it has many differing approaches.

Metaphysics tries to describe the nature of reality and things. It asks questions about the nature and makeup of the universe; for example, about the world: was it created or not? Does it have a purpose or not? Is it eternal? About humanity: are we free? What sorts of things exist? Do we have a soul? What exactly is personal identity?

Epistemology
is broadly the theory of knowledge. Understanding what knowledge is and how we can come by it is important for other areas of philosophy. Simply, we can ask, firstly how did we come to know something? Secondly, what do we mean when we say that we know something? For example, If I say that this is a rose, do I know this directly or indirectly? Thirdly, how can we validate what we know? On what basis is our claim true or false?

Axiology deals with things of value worth. An important part is moral worth, or ethics. Ethics considers how we should behave moral behaviour and raises the questions of right or wrong actions. Another area, aesthetics, is concerned with the beautiful. What is art, whether it is music, sculpture, literature, film, etc.? What is a beautiful work of art? Again if I say that something is beautiful, is it because it is intrinsically beautiful, or is it beautiful because I like it?

Political philosophy includes aspects such as how to construct and run societies, and can include areas such as justice, rights and obligations.
Logic describes the various types of reasoning structures, the relationship of ideas, deduction and inference. Many of the logics are quite mathematical and they allow us to clarify arguments and find general relationships and truths.

There are also many ‘philosophies of’ and these include those of Language, Religion, Psychology, Mind, Science, Biology, and Mathematics and many more. In these metaphysical and epistemological are asked of each of the particular areas and these are subjected to rigorous critical analysis.
Philosophy may also be considered by region, group, or time period, some examples are: Western, African, Chinese and Indian. Feminist Philosophy is an example of that of groups, and, Ancient (to 300 CE), Medieval (300-1600 CE), Modern (1600-1900 CE), and Contemporary Philosophy (1900 to Now) are examples of philosophy of time periods.

If you are interested in engaging with this broad and fascinating subject, but have no experience, then consider attending the summer school introduction to philosophy in September in Cirencester.