How would you define Philosophy?Describe the nature of philosophical questions with special focus on how philosophical questions differ from questions of scientific or factual nature.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If I were to engage in a definition of philosophy, I would take the two Greek words that are used to help create the word.  "Philos" meaning love, and "Sophia" meaning wisdom create the paradigm for which I would define the field.  Questions of a philosophical nature are open ended in nature, as they do not seek to create answers as much as generate more questions and enhance thought.  Such questions inevitably lead to wisdom, and a love of it, because they provoke thought and discussion amongst individuals.  They differ from other questions because value systems are advocated and there is little to substantiate one as "superior" to another set.  There are methods to engage in philosophic discourse, but it is not as stringent as the scientific method, which helps to determine validity.  Rather, these values and ideas are debated and discussed and while there might be agreement or advancement of specific thoughts over others, there is little in the ways of rejection, as there might be in the scientific realm.  Whereas science is driven by the answers and the resolution of potential dilemmas, philosophy thrives on such predicaments.  Philosophy is quite at home in questions remaining unanswered, which is not where scientific or factual based questions reside.  There can be answers to philosophic questions, but they are challenged and argued with other questions, within a dialogue that continues.  While this might happen in science, it is not something that the quantifying and totalizing genre actively seeks.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Philosophy is the study of basic nature and purpose of the universe and the individuals life. It is sometimes described as science of all sciences, as it is not content with examination of understanding the cause and effect of different physical physical realities observed in isolation, instead it aims to unravel the truth of the reality behind all realities.

The explanation of philosophy given in previous paragraph deals with the its pure objectives. In quest of such objectives it does adopt some common identifiable approaches. Thus it tries to deal with subjects like:

  • principles of all real knowledge
  • Study of most general causes and principles of universe.
  • Relationship of humanity with the nature.
  • Relationship of individual with society.
  • The basic nature of life and consciousness.
  • The relationship between physical nature of the world and its perception by individual.

Philosophy is not just a theoretical field of study. It not only tries to identify the purpose of individuals life but also seeks means of enabling individuals to fulfill its ultimate purpose. In this ways it also lays down principles of conduct for the individual. In such attempts the philosophy, sometimes, overlaps the field of religion and religious beliefs.

Though philosophy can address itself to study of any subject, we can identify some common areas of philosophical enquiry such as metaphysics, logic, ethics, and aesthetics.