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What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is the principled investigation of what can be perceived and understood about The Universe, including what can be perceived and understood about Philosophy itself.

The word "Philosophy" comes from Greek:

  • φίλος ("philos") = "Love"
  • σοφία ("sophia") = "Wisdom"

So "Philo" + "sophy" literally means "Love of Wisdom." I think of Philosophy as a sub-category of Practical Theology (but not everyone would agree with that).

It can be helpful (if not always perfectly accurate) to think of Philosophy as a tree with branches. Different people group the branches of Philosophy together differently (and that's ok—see the section at the bottom of this page). I like to think of Philosophy as having the following six branches:


  • Metaphilosophy - The study of Philosophy itself (this list is an example of Metaphilosophy!)

The Core:


  • Applied Philosophy - The study of using Philosophy in real life and in other fields of study

These branches interrelate. One way to visualize these relations at a high level might be as follows:

Each of the major branches naturally informs and influences each of the others. But some lines of influence (like that of Metaphilosophy on Epistemology, etc.) are clearer—hence the darker lines.

Philosophy Concepts

Topics in Philosophy