Education is regarded as an important pillar of human civilization. Over the centuries, various fields of study have been developed and mastered, leading to great progress in the world. One of the oldest academic disciplines is philosophy. This disciple has had great importance in the development of various human institutions, including education. While most people are familiar with the word “philosophy,” few understand what philosophy is. This paper will set out to define the philosophy and highlight its importance to humanity.
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The Western definition of philosophy is “love (or search of wisdom” (Navia 5). This definition is derived from the fact that the term ‘philosophy’ comes from two Greek words; philia (love) and Sophia (wisdom). The Greek word philia conveys a sense of yearning or desire for someone or something. Navia stresses that the wisdom in the sense of “sophia” does not mean knowledge of details or particular tasks (5). The wisdom alluded to in the context of the word philosophy is the kind necessary to envision and carry out a complex task. Philosophy is, therefore, the steadfast search for knowledge through intelligent inquiry. The philosopher understands that man does not understand most things and can gain some understanding by probing ideas.
Philosophy can trace its origins to ancient Minor Asia. At around 600 BC, this discipline emerged in ancient Greece. Philosophers, in this era, conducted their philosophical activities largely through observation and reasoning. The primary concern of the early philosophers was the question of what constituted the universe. Manuel notes that early philosophy engaged in an earnest search for the truth about a man (31). A turn in the approach of philosophers took place in Medieval Europe. This period was characterized by the coming and predominance of Christianity. Philosophy became the search for the ultimate causes of things, eventually leading to the truth about God.
The 15th century saw another change in focus for philosophy. In this period, philosophy became anthropocentric meaning that reason was sufficient to inquire on its truth (Manuel 31). This ushered in the era of modern philosophy. It became an academic discipline seeking logic and answers to life’s most fundamental questions, morality, knowledge, and human life. The academic disciple of philosophy is divided into four branches: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and logic. Metaphysics deals with the nature of the world and what exists in it (Manuel 31). Epistemology is concerned with the knowledge we have concerning the world. Ethics seeks to establish what is moral behavior. Lastly, logic concerns itself with establishing answers to arguments and the reasons given in individual subjects.
Philosophical ideas have a wide range of application in modern society. Scientists use the concepts and ideas of philosophers when they are confronted with ethical or moral issues in their disciple. Navia asserts that philosophy exists in all theoretical and scientific endeavors (2). To answer questions such as whether stem-cell research should be encouraged, scientists turn to the arguments made by philosophers. The modern society relies on philosophy to function properly. Through this disciple, the basis of moral values is established. Philosophy also enables society to determine what is considered ethical behavior.
This paper set out to define the philosophy and highlight its significance. The arguments made show that philosophy is the foundation of intellectual endeavors. The ideas and insights of past philosophers continue to have a great influence on the development of modern society. For this reason, it can be stated that this old disciple will continue to be of great importance to the civilization for centuries to come.
Manuel, Day. Philosophy of Man. Boston: Goodwill Trading, 1997. Print.
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Navia, Luis. The Adventure of Philosophy. NY: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. Print.