philosophy

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
  1. noun
    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)
    axiology
    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
    metaphysics
    the philosophical study of being and knowing
    dialectic
    any formal system of reasoning that arrives at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments
    logic
    the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference
    epistemology
    the philosophical theory of knowledge
    transcendental philosophy, transcendentalism
    any system of philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual above the empirical and material
    bioethics
    the branch of ethics that studies moral values in the biomedical sciences
    casuistry
    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
    hedonism
    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
    ontology
    the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence
    cosmology
    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)
  2. noun
    a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school
    synonyms: doctrine, ism, philosophical system, school of thought
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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
    abolitionism
    the doctrine that calls for the abolition of slavery
    absolutism
    the doctrine of an absolute being
    amoralism
    the doctrine that moral distinctions are invalid
    animalism
    the doctrine that human beings are purely animal in nature and lacking a spiritual nature
    animism
    the doctrine that all natural objects and the universe itself have souls
    antiestablishmentarianism, antiestablishmentism
    the doctrine of opposition to the social and political establishment
    asceticism
    the doctrine that through renunciation of worldly pleasures it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state
    contextualism
    any doctrine emphasizing the importance of the context in solving problems or establishing the meaning of terms
    creationism
    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
    dogma
    a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative
    dualism
    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
    dynamism
    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
    epicureanism
    a doctrine of hedonism that was defended by several ancient Greek philosophers
    establishmentarianism, establishmentism
    the doctrine of supporting the social or political establishment
    ethicism
    a doctrine that ethics and ethical ideas are valid and important
    expansionism
    the doctrine of expanding the territory or the economic influence of a country
    formalism
    the doctrine that formal structure rather than content is what should be represented
    functionalism
    any doctrine that stresses utility or purpose
    Girondism
    the doctrine of the Girondists
    gospel
    a doctrine that is believed to be of great importance
    gymnosophy
    the doctrine of a sect of Hindu philosophers who practiced nudity and asceticism and meditation
    imitation
    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
    internationalism
    the doctrine that nations should cooperate because their common interests are more important than their differences
    unilateralism
    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
    literalism
    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
    monism
    the doctrine that reality consists of a single basic substance or element
    multiculturalism
    the doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country
    nationalism
    the doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other
    nationalism
    the doctrine that nations should act independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals
    nihilism
    a revolutionary doctrine that advocates destruction of the social system for its own sake
    pacificism, pacifism, passivism
    the doctrine that all violence is unjustifiable
    pluralism
    the doctrine that reality consists of several basic substances or elements
    populism
    the political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite
    presentism
    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
    reformism
    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
    feminism
    a doctrine that advocates equal rights for women
    reincarnationism
    a doctrine that on the death of the body the soul migrates to or is born again in another body
    secessionism
    a doctrine that maintains the right of secession
    secularism
    a doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations
    phenomenology
    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
    utilitarianism
    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
    descriptivism
    (linguistics) a doctrine supporting or promoting descriptive linguistics
    descriptivism
    (ethics) a doctrine holding that moral statements have a truth value
    prescriptivism
    (linguistics) a doctrine supporting or promoting prescriptive linguistics
    prescriptivism
    (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
    millennium
    (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
    theanthropism
    (theology) the doctrine that Jesus was a union of the human and the divine
    testament
    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
    mimesis
    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
    conceptualism
    the doctrine that the application of a general term to various objects indicates the existence of a mental entity that mediates the application
    Confucianism
    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
    environmentalism
    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
    determinism
    (philosophy) a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will
    formalism
    (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
    hereditarianism
    the philosophical doctrine that heredity is more important than environment in determining intellectual growth
    idealism
    (philosophy) the philosophical theory that ideas are the only reality
    intuitionism
    (philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge is acquired primarily by intuition
    logicism
    (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
    mechanism
    (philosophy) the philosophical theory that all phenomena can be explained in terms of physical or biological causes
    mentalism
    (philosophy) a doctrine that mind is the true reality and that objects exist only as aspects of the mind's awareness
    nativism
    (philosophy) the philosophical theory that some ideas are innate
    naturalism
    (philosophy) the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations
    Neoplatonism
    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
    nominalism
    (philosophy) the doctrine that the various objects labeled by the same term have nothing in common but their name
    operationalism
    (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
    pragmatism
    (philosophy) the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value
    probabilism
    (philosophy) the doctrine that (since certainty is unattainable) probability is a sufficient basis for belief and action
    rationalism
    (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
    relativism
    (philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved
    Scholasticism
    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
    solipsism
    (philosophy) the philosophical theory that the self is all that you know to exist
    spiritualism
    (theology) any doctrine that asserts the separate existence of God
    Stoicism
    (philosophy) the philosophical system of the Stoics following the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Zeno
    subjectivism
    (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
    teleology
    (philosophy) a doctrine explaining phenomena by their ends or purposes
    traditionalism
    the doctrine that all knowledge was originally derived by divine revelation and that it is transmitted by traditions
    vitalism
    (philosophy) a doctrine that life is a vital principle distinct from physics and chemistry
    nullification
    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
    Christology
    a religious doctrine or theory based on Jesus or Jesus' teachings
    antinomianism
    the theological doctrine that by faith and God's grace a Christian is freed from all laws (including the moral standards of the culture)
    Thomism
    the comprehensive theological doctrine created by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and still taught by the Dominicans
    Arianism
    heretical doctrine taught by Arius that asserted the radical primacy of the Father over the Son
    Athanasianism
    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
    consubstantiation
    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
    Episcopalianism
    the theological doctrine of church government by bishops
    Byzantinism, Caesaropapism, Erastianism
    the doctrine that the state is supreme over the church in ecclesiastical matters
    Hinayanism
    the religious doctrine of Hinayana Buddhism
    Jansenism
    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
    Mahayanism
    the religious doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism
    Marcionism
    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
    Monophysitism
    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
    Monothelitism
    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
    Nestorianism
    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)
    Pelagianism
    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
    Quakerism
    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
    rationalism
    the theological doctrine that human reason rather than divine revelation establishes religious truth
    reincarnation
    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
    Rosicrucianism
    the theological doctrine that venerates the rose and the cross as symbols of Christ's Resurrection and redemption; claims various occult powers
    synergism
    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
    transubstantiation
    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
    universalism
    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
    Docetism
    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
    Gnosticism
    a religious orientation advocating gnosis as the way to release a person's spiritual element; considered heresy by Christian churches
    Zurvanism
    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
    confession
    the document that spells out the belief system of a given church (especially the Reformation churches of the 16th century)
    ahimsa
    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
    Incarnation
    (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:
    belief
    any cognitive content held as true
  3. noun
    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”
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    belief
    any cognitive content held as true
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