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Core Philosophical Disciplines: Questions, Philosophers, and Personal Ideas

Introduction

The disciplines of philosophy envelope a considerable number of issues, concentrating on the topics pertinent to numerous areas of human development. The range of branches connected to philosophical thinking, as well as the variety of scholarly opinions on the discussed matters, prove how essential it is for humankind to continue scientific research in these spheres. The major philosophical movements, developed during decades of scholarly studies, often focus on such vital subjects as the essence of knowledge, morality, and the world itself, providing comprehensive insight and allowing further investigation. This paper examines the central branches of philosophy, namely metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics, incorporating the ideas of seven well-recognized philosophers to clarify the described issues and present a personal perspective on these subjects.

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Metaphysics

Addressing the Universal Questions

Metaphysical investigations encompass several primary questions regarding the origins of conscience, being, and the world itself. Such topics as existence and reality, the world and human perception, and the relationship between the physical and spiritual aspects of the body are examined by this branch of philosophy (Loux & Crisp, 2017). In general, scholars of metaphysics aim to identify the origins of being, the human mind, and the natural environment, establishing the basic principles behind these phenomena. To properly approach the described issues, philosophers have formulated several questions to assist with the examinations. The major prompts addressed are: “What is the origin of the world’s existence?”, “Does the world exist outside the human mind?” “How can the human psyche affect the physical body?” (Loux & Crisp, 2017). Although the scope of the subjects investigated is considerably large, the contributions of numerous philosophers advanced metaphysical thought, suggesting solutions for the highlighted problems.

Metaphysics and Consciousness: Insights from Aristotle and Descartes

As a remarkably broad notion, metaphysics was heavily studied by numerous philosophers throughout the ages. According to Aristotle, this area of philosophy is devoted to highly generalized issues, namely the world and its existence, which are fundamental for other philosophical branches (Walsh, 2019). By providing solutions to these complications, metaphysical concepts offer a basis for the following philosophical research. The phenomenon of existence, another prominent topic in the area discussed, was explored by a well-recognized philosopher Rene Descartes. The scientist argued that the concept of being and consciousness are axiomatic and cannot be contested, suggesting that it is logically impossible to deny one’s existence (Loux & Crisp, 2017). The philosopher regarded human consciousness as a quality capable of perceiving and identifying other existing objects and beings, establishing an exceptional basis for the development of subsequent metaphysical ideas.

A Personal Response to Metaphysical Questions

  1. I believe that some of the questions posed by this branch might be answered through the combination with contemporary scientific advancements. Although it is still impossible for humanity to understand the creation of the universe, several basic concepts behind the emergence of galaxies, stars, and planets have already been addressed by astronomy and astrophysics. I believe that the formation of Earth can be explained using an astrophysical rather than philosophical approach, which suggests that this planet was formed after the creation of the solar system.
  2. Nevertheless, examining the world outside the human mind can be a tremendous challenge for humanity. Given that humans perceive the surrounding environment through the senses, the information received is later affected by cognition and thinking processes (Loux & Crisp, 2017). However, it is still possible to derive data from other sources, such as objective examination techniques and machinery.
  3. I believe that thoroughly answering this question requires additional insight into the human brain and its impact on the body, which is yet unattainable due to the lack of scientific capability. Nonetheless, considering the available evidence, it might be suggested that the two entities are inseparably connected, with the physical element considerably influencing the psychological attributes, as the human psyche cannot exist outside the brain.

Epistemology

The Central Issues of Epistemology

The epistemological approach is one of the core branches of philosophy that focuses on the nature of human knowledge. Covering the relationship between perception and reality, epistemological scholars strive to establish an objective overview of the surrounding world and evaluate the quality of the information received through various means (McCain & Kampourakis, 2019). Furthermore, apart from examining the knowledge itself, it is crucial to understand its origins and limits, as well as the processes in the human mind contributing to the characteristics of the perceived information. The primary issues of epistemology can be represented in such questions as “What does it mean to know something?”, “Under what conditions does one know something?”, “What is the structure of knowledge?”. Furthermore, numerous distinctions arise when the source of knowledge begins to change, ranging from perception to memory and reason.

Philosophical Interpretations: Plato and Socrates

The questions raised by epistemology have been discussed by various philosophers throughout the centuries. The study of knowledge was a significant theme for Greek philosophers, especially Plato, who investigated the nature of this phenomenon and the paradoxes related to knowing facts. According to Plato, who based his suggestions on the thesis “virtue is knowledge,” there are multiple possibilities to know something, as having a belief about a certain subject is enough to begin its examination (McCain & Kampourakis, 2019). This proposition is further supported by Socrates, who argues that knowledge already exists within an individual. Although a person might possess both false and correct beliefs, it is possible for them to discover the truth through inquiry, such as particular questions aimed at uncovering the latent information.

Personal Answers to Epistemological Questions

  1. From my perspective, the original sources of knowledge and the human interpretations of all the information received through various means are essential for understanding knowledgeability. When ascertaining how one begins to know something, it is imperative to consider how one justifies their assertions. In my opinion, a person can know something when they possess a valid justification for their belief, which must be derived from reputable sources, namely their own sensations or resources they designate credible.
  2. In this regard, I suggest that knowing something is the outcome of combining perceptual information, its cognitive evaluation, and a personal justification, prompting the creation of unique beliefs or the adoption of available ones.
  3. Considering these propositions, the structure of knowledge appears to possess core beliefs that the individual considers irrefutable. I believe that there are several ideas that are indisputable for a person, constituting a basis for other assertions. Therefore, both created and adopted beliefs should be compatible with the central assumptions.

Aesthetics

The extensive area of beauty and taste is investigated by the branch of aesthetics which considers various works of art. The primary goal of this discipline is to define the nature of art objects and establish how these works might be interpreted and evaluated in terms of beauty and elegance or distaste and ugliness (Wellmer, 2018). However, human experience is highly vast and individualistic, meaning that identifying the specific patterns of beauty and ugliness is a strenuous task, where considering enjoyment, charm, and personal attitudes is necessary.

Considering the aforementioned complications, the first issue encountered by aesthetics can be formulated as follows: “How can beauty and taste be defined?”. Another question is linked to the nature of artistic items: “Which artworks can be designated beautiful?”, “Are aesthetic judgments subjective or personal?” (Lamarque & Olsen, 2018). Thus, aesthetics is not only connected to examining artworks but also questions the origins of artistic expression and its impact on the value of the creation.

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Judging Beauty and Artisism According to Kant and Hegel

The ideas behind aesthetics range significantly based on the philosophical approach of the thinker. Immanuel Kant devised a specific strategy to explore the origin of beauty and aesthetic judgments, claiming that particular creations will be considered beautiful by the majority of the audience, meaning that these works are universally beautiful. (Wellmer, 2018). Following this proposition, the taste is subjective and distinct between the representatives of various classes and educational backgrounds (Wellmer, 2018). Therefore, while Kant describes beauty itself as a universal concept, the taste is considered a changing variable; combined together, beauty and taste contribute to the creation of an aesthetic judgment.

Georg Hegel introduces a unique approach to art, including the effects of content and form, into his understanding of aesthetics. For Hegel, beauty and art are intimately interconnected, as artworks are designed to represent the beauty perceived by the artist (Lamarque & Olsen, 2018). Nevertheless, to produce a creation that could be defined as a work of art, it is imperative to incorporate relevant content and artistic representation into the work. Therefore, the combination of a story, a form, and an elegant demonstration are required to produce art.

Replying to Aesthetical Issues

  1. In my opinion, the notion of beauty can be considered universal, while the taste is both universal and personal. The concepts of harmony and balance are essential for the creation of a beautiful object, as the works containing these elements are always recognized as beautiful by the human mind. Moreover, I believe that taste might encompass not only learned but inherent knowledge about elegance and form, allowing the individual to perceive the beauty of specific artworks and the ugliness of others.
  2. Given this definition of beauty, a beautiful artwork will consist of such aspects as harmony, elegance, an exceptional art form. However, it is necessary to distinguish between beautiful and aesthetic works, where the latter should be recognized through exceptional knowledge of both beauty, taste, and artistry.
  3. As for the aesthetic judgments, from my perspective, it is impossible for these statements to be unbiased, as the nature of art and aesthetics is established by humans, whose perceptions are subjective. Although harmony and balance will remain unprejudiced, as the concept that can be discovered in the natural world, the taste will always incorporate cultural and educational attributes, which retain no objective value.

Ethics

A major branch of philosophy is ethics, the study of human conduct and morality. Focusing on ambiguous situations and ethical dilemmas, this area of philosophical study is closely connected to the concept of the greater good and individual benefits from the actions performed by various people (Wellmer, 2018). Although morals and morality are essential for ethics, the main priority remains the difference between right and wrong endeavors and the possible solutions to enhancing moral knowledge and implementing it in various practices.

Separate disciplines within ethics seek answers to questions limited to their area of research. The most prominent issues are outlined as: “How should people behave?”, “What do people believe is right conduct?” and “How can moral knowledge be applied in reality?”. Considering the ramifications that can arise if improper conduct was performed, the understanding of appropriate actions is highly essential not only for additional philosophical studies but also for the fields of medicine, law, and psychology.

Knowledge of Righteousness from the Perspectives of Socrates and Nietzsche

Ancient Greek philosophers have established several ideas regarding ethics and knowing the distinction between good and evil deeds. For instance, Socrates claimed that improper conduct is caused by ignorance, the lack of understanding regarding right actions, and self-awareness (Wolfsdorf, 2017). According to the scholar, there are several virtues that can be considered positive moral traits for individuals, and these qualities should be maintained to achieve wisdom and happiness.

A radically different perspective is demonstrated by Frederich Nietzsche, who attempts to uncover the origins of human norms and the understanding of good. Nietzsche states that morality is falsely regarded as a positive phenomenon that can assist human beings, while in reality, there is no possibility to know the difference between good and evil (Wellmer, 2018). Therefore, the rules and moral prescriptions are largely imposed by the particular society that a certain individual resides in, resulting in the lack of individualism regarding appropriate conduct.

Personal Reflection on Ethical Concerns

  1. From my perspective, behavioral patterns prescribed by ethics should consider the ramifications of distinct conduct and its impact on individuals and the environment. The concept of greater good is especially pertinent for this discussion, as it can provide a moral waypoint to be followed. Although benefiting all people involved in the ethical dilemma is highly unattainable, the overall goal should be to positively affect as many individuals as possible.
  2. The definition of right conduct is intimately connected to the norms of ethical behavior established in society. I believe that there are universal ideas that create a basis for ethical and unethical behavior. The major elements of such concepts would be the necessity to avoid harm to other human beings and attempt to negate the emergence of negative outcomes for the majority of the population.
  3. The application of moral knowledge is a challenging task that demands consideration of the possible impact on the communities involved. In my opinion, to properly implement ethical ideas, it is imperative to evaluate not only the consequences of the action but the endeavor itself. The intended activity should also adhere to the moral restrictions as performing an unethical act to achieve righteous results can be morally wrong.

Conclusion

To conclude, four major branches of philosophy, namely metaphysics, epistemology aesthetics, and ethics, were evaluated in detail in this paper, highlighting the most pertinent questions addressed by the disciplines. It is evident that all of these philosophical areas are deeply connected to the universal issues encountered by mankind, which range from the problems of existence to the morality of one’s actions. Furthermore, numerous philosophers and scientists suggested prominent solutions for these complications, developing theoretical frameworks that could aid future research in these fields. Although some of the issues outlined appear to be abstract or generalized, focusing on particular aspects of the difficulty is an efficient method that allows the evaluation of the relevant topic in a productive manner.

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References

Lamarque, P., & Olsen, S. H. (2018). Aesthetics and the philosophy of art: The analytic tradition, an anthology. John Wiley & Sons.

Loux, M. J., & Crisp, T. M. (2017). Metaphysics: A contemporary introduction (4th ed.). Routledge.

McCain, K., & Kampourakis, K. (2019). What is scientific knowledge?: An introduction to contemporary epistemology of science. Routledge.

Walsh, W. H. (2019). Metaphysics. Routledge.

Wellmer, A. (2018). The persistence of modernity: Aesthetics, ethics and postmodernism. John Wiley & Sons.

Wolfsdorf, D. C. (2017). The historical Socrates. In The Cambridge companion to ancient ethics by Christopher Bobonich (Ed.), pp. 30-50. Cambridge University Press.

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