What branch of philosophy deals with the question what is real

Whereas metaphysics is the study of reality, epistemology is the study of how we come to know reality. Is there such a thing as free will? Is time part of the structure of reality that we experience, or is it just part of the structure of our own minds? There are many questions that fall into the overlap between metaphysics and epistemology.

These are mainly grouped under the heading of philosophy of mind , the sub-field of philosophy that deals with how minds work, what they are made of, and how things like perception, calculation, and moral reasoning work at the cognitive level. This is one of the most basic metaphysical questions, and has been raised by several philosophers in the Western tradition. Several answers have been offered, notably the idea of a god who creates existence for the same reason an artist creates a sculpture — for the joy of creation.

However, since the development, during the twentieth century, of the philosophies of phenomenology and its later form, existentialism , most philosophers have looked for answers based on things that we can know for sure rather than faith or wishful thinking; the phenomenologists and existentialists base their metaphysics on the observation that the only thing we can know for sure is our experience, and therefore they take the existence that we experience, or phenomena , as the first fact of metaphysics and go from there.

Strong men believe in cause and effect. Metaphysicians frequently ask what causality is and even whether or not there is truly any such thing. Some philosophers are extremely skeptical about causality, arguing that all we can ever know is that something happened and then something else happened.


Emerson, in this quote, is showing his colors as a pragmatist, or someone who believes that truth is whatever works, practically—and that being practical enables human beings to live well. Long before Aristotle was born, early Greek philosophers were developing all sorts of metaphysical and ontological theories: for example, the theory of the four elements earth, water, air, and fire is an ontological theory and therefore it belongs in the category of metaphysics.

Similarly, all major religious traditions addressed metaphysical questions at one point or another.

PHILOSOPHY - Epistemology: Introduction to Theory of Knowledge [HD]

Starting from the idea of tawheed , Islamic philosophers have used rational deduction to work out all sorts of philosophical conclusions that continue to be debated around the world today. The Scientific Revolution had a far-reaching impact on the way we think about metaphysics. The early scientists figured out that they could understand the world much more effectively by only believing in ideas which could be tested and thereby proven. Many people today unfortunately misunderstand and think that science is a faith in the material world and a denial of any immaterial world.

The Branches of Philosophy

This is not correct at all. Right now scientists do not in general agree on what quantum physics tells us about the metaphysics of the world and there are many competing interpretations; but what they do know is that the rules of quantum physics make incredibly accurate predictions about what actually happens in nature—much more accurate than anything that came before—so any metaphysics which is not at least consistent with quantum mechanics is probably wrong.

Consider a random handful of classic philosophical questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of justice? What does it take for a belief to be justified? Is the world we see illusion or reality? This leads us to the second reason to do philosophy: to understand is ennobling. Simply to assume one understands, is not. To be sure, a person who never questions anything might live happily —at least in the same way that a well-fed dog lives happily. Worse, they may not yield any conclusion: at the end of the day, one may find oneself stripped of the certainties with which one began, and with no new ones to put in their place.

Doing philosophy may require one to live in perpetual uncertainty while others, in their ignorance, happily profess perfect knowledge. A final reason for studying philosophy is that, for all of the pains and difficulties associated with it, the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge is enjoyable. To be sure, it is a refined enjoyment, and from the outside it is often hard to see what the appeal is.

But once one becomes immersed in it, it carries its own immediate rewards, and even becomes addictive. If one needed to be anti-religious or even nonreligious to do philosophy, the history of philosophy would be very slim. To say that philosophy is secular also is not to deny that there are many thinkers, arguably including most of the first philosophers themselves, for whom it is not always clear whether they are doing philosophy or theology: philosophy, like any other discipline, has gray boundaries.

The phenomenologists and existentialists I am familiar with seem to base their thought upon rational and evidential grounds as much as anyone else; even with postmodernists, I am not sure that the open disdain for reason and evidence is more than just talk. Am I ruling out from philosophy anyone whose inquiries do not ultimately rely upon reason and evidence? Yes, with no apologies. Camus, for instance, expressed himself very well through the medium of novels and plays, but he seems to have worked out those thoughts by using to reason and evidence. I would contrast that with, say, the poem by Whitman that expresses disgust with the way astronomers dissect nature, and contrasts their efforts with the beauty of the night sky.

I suspect Whitman was just articulating feelings rather than a position he had worked out rationally: however deep his feelings might be, and however much grist they might provide for a philosophical mill, Whitman still was not doing philosophy. Lawhead WF. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. The historical introduction I use in my current Philosophy classes.

It is very well-written, and almost entirely secondary text only a few pages per chapter of original text. Nagel T. What Does It All Mean?

Oxford: Oxford University Press. So far, the only topic-oriented general introduction that I really like. It is concerned with answering the questions about identity and the world. The name is derived from the Greek words, Meta which means beyond or after, and Physika which means physics.

Philosophy - Evolutionary Philosophy

Aristotle, one of the most well known philosophers, acknowledged Thales as the first known meta physician. The main branches of metaphysics are ontology, natural theology and universal science. There is a basic question about the ultimate substance as to how many substances are required to constitute this world? Here are some theories regarding this:. Epistemology: It deals with the definition of knowledge and its scope and limitations. It questions the meaning of knowledge, how we obtain knowledge, how much do we know and how do we have this knowledge?

Some of the famous epistemologists are Descartes, Kant and Hume. Ethics: It is concerned with questions on morality and values and how they apply to various situations. It can be divided into the branches of meta-ethics, normative and applied ethics.

~ Academic Philosophy, Philosophy Notes

Ethics seeks to understand the basis of morals, how they develop and how they are and should be followed. Famous works on ethics are by philosophers as early as Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Nietzsche.

Social Philosophy is one of the main and important branches of Philosophy. It is the thoughtful consideration of human society. It gives insight into the actual activities of human beings in the society. Social philosophy is the study of questions about social behavior and interpretations of society and social institutions in terms of ethical values.

Social Philosophy has two main functions namely Critical and Constructive.


Social Philosophy studies the most fundamental laws which influence social cohesion, social progress, social change and social disintegration. Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy which is concerned with definition, structure and role of beauty, especially in the art is called aesthetics. Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy which deals with the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiments and taste.

Metaphysics : Metaphysics investigates the nature, structure and value of reality.