"The men who are not interested in philosophy
urgently; they are most helplessly
in its power." - Ayn Rand
Looking at Philosophy—the
word means love of wisdom—can be compared to evaluating a piece of real
estate. The property has acreage, a house, road access, utility service,
landscaping, a view, a code of regulations and restrictions, location in
respect to other significant centers of activity and geological
features, an address identity, a standard of living rating, and a market value. Changing any aspect
of the property can change the other aspects. Philosophy has at least
these many different aspects, and changing them affects the other
facets. The overall model or foundation for the different aspects can be
called a Paradigm, and it provides the framework for all
philosophical discussion. Usually, the regulators for such discussion
are rationality (fact-based), logic, and reason.
The different challenges
of philosophy being dealt with correspond to different branches.
Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, is probably first and
foremost. It deals with knowing: what we can know, how, and the degree
of certainty we can legitimately have. Logic, another branch, is
a tool for certifying knowledge and verifying consistency. Sometimes
Mathematics is considered to be a branch of logic.
secondary to epistemology is Metaphysics*, which is the study of
the nature of reality, the study of what features of experience are
actually real and which are possibly only apparent. The philosophy of
Science is included under metaphysics, and underlying every
theory of science is metaphysics. Change your metaphysics and you change
your theory or scientific explanation. Ontology,
the study of being as such, could be considered as a branch of
metaphysics. These two branches, epistemology and metaphysics, are
especially intertwined and significantly affect the other branches of
branch of philosophy deals with what actions are socially and
politically just. Aesthetics, deals with what is beautiful,
pleasing, and elegant. Politics, deals with evaluation of what is
proper governmental structure and conduct.
Our philosophy is never
developed or proposed in a vacuum, because it is always colored and
conditioned by history, culture, our education and value programming, our personal
experiences, our chosen and programmed beliefs.
Aristotle calls the science of metaphysics by no less than three
different names. Sometimes he calls it First Science, πρωτη φιλοσοφια,
φιλοσοφια being his regular name for science as I have just defined the
word.** The word 'first' refers to logical priority. First Science is
the science whose subject-matter is logically prior to that of every
other, the science which is logically presupposed by all other sciences,
although in order of study it comes last. Sometimes he calls it Wisdom,
σοφια, with the implication that this is the thing for which φιλοσοφια,
science, is the search; this again implying that in addition to their
own immediate function of studying each its own peculiar subject-matter
the sciences have a further function as leading to a goal outside
themselves, namely the discovery of what they logically presuppose.
Sometimes he calls it Theology, θεολογικη, or the science which expounds
the nature of God.