The term philosophy is taken from the Greek word "φιληο" (phileo) meaning "to love" or "to befriend" and "σοφία" (sophia) meaning "wisdom." Thus, "philosophy" means "the love of wisdom". Socrates, a Greek philosopher, used the term philosophy as an equivalent to the search for wisdom. Also, the term wisdom is used as a general term for describing the intellectual probing of any idea.
The study of any discipline, such as Philosophy, should begin with its definition. Webster's dictionary defines philosophy as:
"the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics"
The definition highlights the nature of philosophical inquiry.
Philosophers ask questions. These questions try to understand the metaphysical and physical world of man. Philosophy is considered to have developed as a form of rational inquiry in the cities of Ancient Greece.
The history of philosophy in the west begins with the Greeks, and particularly with a group of philosophers commonly called the pre-Socratics. This is not to deny the occurrence of other pre-philosophical rumblings in Egyptian and Babylonian cultures. Certainly great thinkers and writers existed in each of these cultures, and we have evidence that some of the earliest Greek philosophers may have had contact with at least some of the products of Egyptian and Babylonian thought. However, the early Greek thinkers added at least one element which differentiates their thoughts from all those who came before them. For the first time in history, we discover in their writings something more than dogmatic assertions about the ordering of the world -- we find reasoned arguments for various beliefs about the world.
Philosophy has a rich literary heritage, including the writings and teachings of profound thinkers from many cultures throughout history.
Philosophers seek to understand the principles that underlie all knowledge and being. For this purpose, they develop methods of thinking, including logic, introspection, and meditation.
Applying these methods, they investigate the most fundamental questions, such as
"What is the nature of the universe?" (metaphysics)
"What do we know, and how do we know it?" (epistemology)
"What is the difference between good and evil?" (ethics)
"What is beauty?" (aesthetics), and "What is the meaning of life?" (teleology).
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