The noun philosophy means the study of proper behavior, and the search for wisdom.

The original meaning of the word philosophy comes from the Greek roots philo- meaning "love" and -sophos, or "wisdom." When someone studies philosophy they want to understand how and why people do certain things and how to live a good life. In other words, they want to know the meaning of life. Add the suffix -er to philosophy, and you get a word for someone whose job it is to think these big thoughts.

Definitions of philosophy

n the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics

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ethics, moral philosophy
the philosophical study of moral values and rules
aetiology, etiology
the philosophical study of causation
aesthetics, esthetics
(art) the branch of philosophy dealing with beauty and taste (emphasizing the evaluative criteria that are applied to art)
the study of values and value judgments
jurisprudence, law, legal philosophy
the branch of philosophy concerned with the law and the principles that lead courts to make the decisions they do
the philosophical study of being and knowing
any formal system of reasoning that arrives at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments
the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference
the philosophical theory of knowledge
transcendental philosophy, transcendentalism
any system of philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual above the empirical and material
the branch of ethics that studies moral values in the biomedical sciences
moral philosophy based on the application of general ethical principles to resolve moral dilemmas
endaemonism, eudemonism
an ethical system that evaluates actions by reference to personal well-being through a life based on reason
an ethical system that evaluates the pursuit of pleasure as the highest good
contract law
that branch of jurisprudence that studies the rights and obligations of parties entering into contracts
corporation law
that branch of jurisprudence that studies the laws governing corporations
matrimonial law
that branch of jurisprudence that studies the laws governing matrimony
patent law
that branch of jurisprudence that studies the laws governing patents
the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence
the metaphysical study of the origin and nature of the universe
modal logic
the logical study of necessity and possibility
methodological analysis, methodology
the branch of philosophy that analyzes the principles and procedures of inquiry in a particular discipline
Type of:
arts, humanistic discipline, humanities, liberal arts
studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills (rather than occupational or professional skills)

n a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school

doctrine, ism, philosophical system, school of thought
Augsburg Confession
the document drawn up in 1555 to defend the catholicity of Lutheran doctrine and to justify innovations in Lutheran practice; is still in effect today
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nuclear deterrence
the military doctrine that an enemy will be deterred from using nuclear weapons as long as he can be destroyed as a consequence
Cabalism, Kabbalism
the doctrines of the Kabbalah
the doctrine that calls for the abolition of slavery
the doctrine of an absolute being
the doctrine that moral distinctions are invalid
the doctrine that human beings are purely animal in nature and lacking a spiritual nature
the doctrine that all natural objects and the universe itself have souls
antiestablishmentarianism, antiestablishmentism
the doctrine of opposition to the social and political establishment
the doctrine that through renunciation of worldly pleasures it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state
any doctrine emphasizing the importance of the context in solving problems or establishing the meaning of terms
the literal belief in the account of Creation given in the Book of Genesis
credo, creed
any system of principles or beliefs
divine right, divine right of kings
the doctrine that kings derive their right to rule directly from God and are not accountable to their subjects; rebellion is the worst of political crimes
a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative
the doctrine that reality consists of two basic opposing elements, often taken to be mind and matter (or mind and body), or good and evil
any of the various theories or doctrines or philosophical systems that attempt to explain the phenomena of the universe in terms of some immanent force or energy
a doctrine of hedonism that was defended by several ancient Greek philosophers
establishmentarianism, establishmentism
the doctrine of supporting the social or political establishment
a doctrine that ethics and ethical ideas are valid and important
the doctrine of expanding the territory or the economic influence of a country
the doctrine that formal structure rather than content is what should be represented
any doctrine that stresses utility or purpose
the doctrine of the Girondists
a doctrine that is believed to be of great importance
the doctrine of a sect of Hindu philosophers who practiced nudity and asceticism and meditation
the doctrine that representations of nature or human behavior should be accurate imitations
individualism, laissez faire
the doctrine that government should not interfere in commercial affairs
the doctrine that nations should cooperate because their common interests are more important than their differences
the doctrine that nations should conduct their foreign affairs individualistically without the advice or involvement of other nations
irredentism, irridentism
the doctrine that irredenta should be controlled by the country to which they are ethnically or historically related
the doctrine of realistic (literal) portrayal in art or literature
democracy, majority rule
the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group
the doctrine that reality consists of a single basic substance or element
the doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country
the doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other
the doctrine that nations should act independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals
a revolutionary doctrine that advocates destruction of the social system for its own sake
pacificism, pacifism, passivism
the doctrine that all violence is unjustifiable
the doctrine that reality consists of several basic substances or elements
the political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite
the doctrine that the Scripture prophecies of the Apocalypse (as in the Book of Revelations) are presently in the course of being fulfilled
freethinking, rationalism
the doctrine that reason is the right basis for regulating conduct
a doctrine of reform
humanism, secular humanism
the doctrine emphasizing a person's capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural
humanism, humanitarianism
the doctrine that people's duty is to promote human welfare
egalitarianism, equalitarianism
the doctrine of the equality of mankind and the desirability of political and economic and social equality
a doctrine that advocates equal rights for women
a doctrine that on the death of the body the soul migrates to or is born again in another body
a doctrine that maintains the right of secession
a doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations
a philosophical doctrine proposed by Edmund Husserl based on the study of human experience in which considerations of objective reality are not taken into account
philosophical doctrine, philosophical theory
a doctrine accepted by adherents to a philosophy
states' rights
a doctrine that federal powers should be curtailed and returned to the individual states
commandment, precept, teaching
a doctrine that is taught
theological doctrine
the doctrine of a religious group
doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number
(linguistics) a doctrine supporting or promoting descriptive linguistics
(ethics) a doctrine holding that moral statements have a truth value
(linguistics) a doctrine supporting or promoting prescriptive linguistics
(ethics) a doctrine holding that moral statements prescribe appropriate attitudes and behavior
church doctrine, creed, gospel, religious doctrine
the written body of teachings of a religious group that are generally accepted by that group
(New Testament) in Revelations it is foretold that those faithful to Jesus will reign with Jesus over the earth for a thousand years; the meaning of these words have been much debated; some denominations (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses) expect it to be a thousand years of justice and peace and happiness
original sin
a sin said to be inherited by all descendants of Adam
(theology) the doctrine that Jesus was a union of the human and the divine
a profession of belief
Golden Rule
a command based on Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount
Athanasian Creed
a Christian profession of faith
creation science
an effort to give scientific support for the truth of the account of Creation given in the Book of Genesis
the imitative representation of nature and human behavior in art and literature
one-way street
unilateral interaction
foreordination, predestination, predetermination, preordination
(theology) being determined in advance; especially the doctrine (usually associated with Calvin) that God has foreordained every event throughout eternity (including the final salvation of mankind)
aesthetic, esthetic
(philosophy) a philosophical theory as to what is beautiful
Aristotelianism, peripateticism
(philosophy) the philosophy of Aristotle that deals with logic and metaphysics and ethics and poetics and politics and natural science
the doctrine that the application of a general term to various objects indicates the existence of a mental entity that mediates the application
the teachings of Confucius emphasizing love for humanity; high value given to learning and to devotion to family (including ancestors); peace; justice; influenced the traditional culture of China
deconstruction, deconstructionism
a philosophical theory of criticism (usually of literature or film) that seeks to expose deep-seated contradictions in a work by delving below its surface meaning
empiricism, empiricist philosophy, sensationalism
(philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge derives from experience
the philosophical doctrine that environment is more important than heredity in determining intellectual growth
existential philosophy, existentialism, existentialist philosophy
(philosophy) a 20th-century philosophical movement chiefly in Europe; assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves
(philosophy) a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will
(philosophy) the philosophical theory that formal (logical or mathematical) statements have no meaning but that its symbols (regarded as physical entities) exhibit a form that has useful applications
the philosophical doctrine that heredity is more important than environment in determining intellectual growth
(philosophy) the philosophical theory that ideas are the only reality
(philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge is acquired primarily by intuition
(philosophy) the philosophical theory that all of mathematics can be derived from formal logic
materialism, physicalism
(philosophy) the philosophical theory that matter is the only reality
(philosophy) the philosophical theory that all phenomena can be explained in terms of physical or biological causes
(philosophy) a doctrine that mind is the true reality and that objects exist only as aspects of the mind's awareness
(philosophy) the philosophical theory that some ideas are innate
(philosophy) the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations
a system of philosophical and theological doctrines composed of elements of Platonism and Aristotelianism and oriental mysticism; its most distinctive doctrine holds that the first principle and source of reality transcends being and thought and is naturally unknowable
(philosophy) the doctrine that the various objects labeled by the same term have nothing in common but their name
(philosophy) the doctrine that the meaning of a proposition consists of the operations involved in proving or applying it
Platonism, realism
(philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that abstract concepts exist independent of their names
(philosophy) the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value
(philosophy) the doctrine that (since certainty is unattainable) probability is a sufficient basis for belief and action
(philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge is acquired by reason without resort to experience
naive realism, realism
(philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that physical objects continue to exist when not perceived
(philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved
the system of philosophy dominant in medieval Europe; based on Aristotle and the Church Fathers
semiology, semiotics
(philosophy) a philosophical theory of the functions of signs and symbols
sensationalism, sensualism
(philosophy) the ethical doctrine that feeling is the only criterion for what is good
(philosophy) the philosophical theory that the self is all that you know to exist
(theology) any doctrine that asserts the separate existence of God
(philosophy) the philosophical system of the Stoics following the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Zeno
(philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge and value are dependent on and limited by your subjective experience
Daoism, Taoism
philosophical system developed by Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu advocating a simple honest life and noninterference with the course of natural events
(philosophy) a doctrine explaining phenomena by their ends or purposes
the doctrine that all knowledge was originally derived by divine revelation and that it is transmitted by traditions
(philosophy) a doctrine that life is a vital principle distinct from physics and chemistry
the states'-rights doctrine that a state can refuse to recognize or to enforce a federal law passed by the United States Congress
mitsvah, mitzvah
(Judaism) a precept or commandment of the Jewish law
a religious doctrine or theory based on Jesus or Jesus' teachings
the theological doctrine that by faith and God's grace a Christian is freed from all laws (including the moral standards of the culture)
the comprehensive theological doctrine created by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and still taught by the Dominicans
heretical doctrine taught by Arius that asserted the radical primacy of the Father over the Son
the theological doctrine taught by Athanasius that Christ the Son is of the same substance as God the Father
Behmenism, Boehmenism
the mystical theological doctrine of Jakob Boehme that influenced the Quakers
the doctrine of the High Anglican Church that after the consecration of the Eucharist the substance of the body and blood of Christ coexists with the substance of the consecrated bread and wine
the theological doctrine of church government by bishops
Byzantinism, Caesaropapism, Erastianism
the doctrine that the state is supreme over the church in ecclesiastical matters
the religious doctrine of Hinayana Buddhism
the Roman Catholic doctrine of Cornelis Jansen and his disciples; salvation is limited to those who are subject to supernatural determinism and the rest are assigned to perdition
the religious doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism
the Christian heresy of the 2nd and 3rd centuries that rejected the Old Testament and denied the incarnation of God in Jesus as a human
chiliasm, millenarianism, millenarism, millenniumism
belief in the Christian doctrine of the millennium mentioned in the Book of Revelations
a Christian heresy of the 5th and 6th centuries that challenged the orthodox definition of the two natures (human and divine) in Jesus and instead believed there was a single divine nature
the theological doctrine that Christ had only one will even though he had two natures (human and divine); condemned as heretical in the Third Council of Constantinople
the theological doctrine (named after Nestorius) that Christ is both the son of God and the man Jesus (which is opposed to Roman Catholic doctrine that Christ is fully God)
the theological doctrine put forward by Pelagius which denied original sin and affirmed the ability of humans to be righteous; condemned as heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431
the theological doctrine of the Society of Friends characterized by opposition to war and rejection of ritual and a formal creed and an ordained ministry
the theological doctrine that human reason rather than divine revelation establishes religious truth
the Hindu or Buddhist doctrine that a person may be reborn successively into one of five classes of living beings (god or human or animal or hungry ghost or denizen of Hell) depending on the person's own actions
the theological doctrine that venerates the rose and the cross as symbols of Christ's Resurrection and redemption; claims various occult powers
the theological doctrine that salvation results from the interaction of human will and divine grace
total depravity
the Calvinist doctrine that everyone is born in a state of corruption as a result of original sin
the Roman Catholic doctrine that the whole substance of the bread and the wine changes into the substance of the body and blood of Christ when consecrated in the Eucharist
the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved
Nativity, Virgin Birth
the theological doctrine that Jesus Christ had no human father; Christians believe that Jesus's birth fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and was attended by miracles; the Nativity is celebrated at Christmas
the heretical doctrine (associated with the Gnostics) that Jesus had no human body and his sufferings and death on the cross were apparent rather than real
a religious orientation advocating gnosis as the way to release a person's spiritual element; considered heresy by Christian churches
a heretical Zoroastrian doctrine holding that Zurvan was the ultimate source of the universe and that both Ahura Mazda and Ahriman were Zurvan's offspring
the document that spells out the belief system of a given church (especially the Reformation churches of the 16th century)
a Buddhist and Hindu and especially Jainist doctrine holding that all forms of life are sacred and urging the avoidance of violence
dogma, tenet
a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof
ecumenicalism, ecumenicism, ecumenism
(Christianity) the doctrine of the ecumenical movement that promotes cooperation and better understanding among different religious denominations: aimed at universal Christian unity
Immaculate Conception, Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
(Christianity) the Roman Catholic dogma that God preserved the Virgin Mary from any stain of original sin from the moment she was conceived
(Christianity) the Christian doctrine of the union of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ
Nicene Creed
(Christianity) a formal creed summarizing Christian beliefs; first adopted in 325 and later expanded
real presence
(Christianity) the Christian doctrine that the body of Christ is actually present in the Eucharist
Type of:
any cognitive content held as true

n any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation

“self-indulgence was his only philosophy
“my father's philosophy of child-rearing was to let mother do it”
Type of:
any cognitive content held as true