|Aristotle: Physica, first page in Immanuel Bekker's edition, 1837. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The word "philosophy" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom".
The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
Thales of Miletus, regarded by Aristotle as the first philosopher, held that all things arise from water. He has been called the "first man of science," because he gave a naturalistic explanation of the cosmos and supported it with reasons. He gave a cosmogony. According to tradition, Thales was able to predict an eclipse and taught the Egyptians how to measure the height of the pyramids.
The superiority of any state or substance over another is determined by philosophy.
By assigning a position of primary importance to what remains when all that is secondary has been removed, philosophy thus becomes the true index of priority or emphasis in the realm of speculative thought.
The mission of philosophy a priory is to establish the relation of manifested things to their invisible ultimate cause or nature.
"Philosophy," writes Sir William Hamilton, has been defined as:
The science of things divine and human, and of the causes in which they are contained [Cicero];
The science of effects by their causes [Hobbes];
The science of sufficient reasons [Leibnitz];
The science of things possible, inasmuch as they are possible [Wolf];
The science of things evidently deduced from first principles [Descartes];
The science of truths, sensible and abstract [de Condillac];
The application of reason to its legitimate objects [Tennemann];
The science of the relations of all knowledge to the necessary ends of human reason [Kant];
The science of the original form of the ego or mental self [Krug];
The science of sciences [Fichte];
The science of the absolute [von Schelling];
The science of the absolute indifference of the ideal and real [von Schelling]--or, The identity of identity and non-identity[Hegel]."
(See Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic.)
Philosophy is commonly classified under six main headings.
Metaphysics : which deals with such abstract subjects as cosmology, theology, and the nature of being.
Logic : which deals with the laws governing rational thinking, or, as it has been called, "the doctrine of fallacies".
Ethics :which is the science of morality, individual responsibility, and character--concerned chiefly with an effort to determine the nature of good;
Psychology: which is devoted to investigation and classification of those forms of phenomena referable to a mental origin;
Epistemology: which is the science concerned primarily with the nature of knowledge itself and the question of whether it may exist in an absolute form; and
AEsthetics: which is the science of the nature of and the reactions awakened by the beautiful, the harmonious, the elegant, and the noble.