Philosophy: study or pursuit (through argument and reason) of wisdom, truth, or knowledge. (Oxford)
Philosophers seek philosophical solutions to problems and discuss the possible relations, the logic, that might exist between fundamental substances in nature. (LeDoux, 118) Philosophers talk about the mind’s capacity to represent or be about things. (Koch, 2) The various branches of science evolved from philosophy, gaining momentum from the 16th century onward, until finally exploding into a ‘scientific revolution’ which ushered in the ‘Age of Reason’ in the 18th Century. (Collin, 16)
Aristotelian: of or pertaining to the Greek philosopher Aristotle or his philosophical system. (Oxford) More than 2,000 years ago, (he) wrote extensively about topics like sleep, dreams, the senses, and “memory.” Many of Aristotle’s ideas remained influential until the beginnings of modern science in the 17th century. (Hockenbury, 3)
Axiology: the theory of value. (Oxford) A branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of values. (Johnson, 80)
Aesthetics: the philosophy of the beautiful or of art; a system of principles for the appreciation of the beautiful. (Oxford) Values in the realm of beauty and art. (Johnson, 81)
Ethics: the science of morals. The branch of knowledge that deals with the principles of human duty, or the logic of moral discourse. (Oxford) Moral values and conduct. (Johnson, 81)
Cultural Relativism: is the view that moral or ethical systems, which vary from culture to culture, are all equally valid and no one system is really 'better' than any other. This is based on the idea that there is no ultimate standard of good or evil, so every judgment about right and wrong is a product of society. Therefore, any opinion on morality or ethics is subject to the cultural perspective of each person. Ultimately, this means that no moral or ethical system can be considered the 'best,' or 'worst,' and no particular moral or ethical position can actually be considered 'right' or 'wrong.' (AllAboutPhilosophy)
Determinism: the doctrine that human action is necessarily determined by motives regarded as external forces acting on the will. (Oxford) Acts of the will (conscious acts), occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by perceiving events or natural laws. (Goldberg, 165) All events, acts, and choices are determined by past events or previously existing causes. (Collin, 340) The belief that we live in a completely determined universe. Physical laws govern the happenings in the physical world. We are part of that physical world. therefore, there are physical laws that govern our behavior and even our conscious self. (Gazzaniga, 4)
Disposition: the values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. (Johnson, 12) Habits of mind or ways of acting that develop over time (e.g., respect for others, perseverance, or open-mindedness). (Johnson, 359)
Epistemology: the branch of philosophy that deals with the varieties, grounds, and validity of knowledge. (Oxford) The study of the origin, nature, limits, and methods of knowledge. (Schunk, 5) How the brain represents knowledge and belief. (Ramachandran, 3) Examines questions about how and what we know. (Johnson, 81)
Existentialism: a philosophy concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. The belief is that people are searching to find out who and what they are throughout life as they make choices based on their experiences, beliefs, and outlook. (AllAboutPhilosophy)
Kantianism: Kant's theory held that sensory information allows reality to be invented by the mind. (Kandel2, 205) He held the view that to make good moral judgements, we must recruit reason and exclude emotion. (Kant, 371) Editor's note - refers to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.
Metaphysics: the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including such concepts as being, substance, essence, time, space, cause, and identity. (Oxford)
Naturalism: states that we are, fundamentally, made only of physical materials. In this view, the brain is a system whose operation is governed by the laws of chemistry and physics. We are our brain and its chemicals, and any dialing of the knobs of your neural system changes who you are. (Eagleman, 204) A philosophical paradigm whereby everything can be explained in terms of natural causes. Can refer either to the simple preoccupation with the material world, as opposed to intellectual or spiritual concepts, or to the theory that physical matter is all there is. This theory is far more than a simple focus on material possessions. It states that everything in the universe is matter, without any true spiritual or intellectual existence. Can also refer to a doctrine that material success and progress are the highest values in life. This doctrine appears to be prevalent in western society. (AllAboutPhilosophy) Also referred to as ‘materialism.’
Nihilism: the belief which labels all values as worthless, therefore, nothing can be known or communicated. Associates itself with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism, having no loyalties. The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), is most often associated with nihilism. (AllAboutPhilosophy)
Spiritualism: the doctrine that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality; any philosophical or religious doctrine stressing the importance of spiritual as opposed to material things. (Oxford) Adjective - 'spiritual.'
Agnosticisim: one who believes that the existence of God is unknown and most likely beyond human ability to discover. An agnostic is one who admits, "I don't know." The term is applied specifically to those who don't know for certain whether or not God exists. Derived from the Greek ‘agnostos,’ which means, ‘to not know.’ (AllAboutPhilosophy) Adjective - 'agnostic.'
Atheism: the doctrine that there is no God or gods. (AllAboutPhilosophy) Adjective - 'atheistic.'
Deism: the belief in a supreme being, who remains unknowable and untouchable. God is viewed as merely the 'first cause' and underlying principle of rationality in the universe. Deists believe in a god of nature -- a noninterventionist creator -- who permits the universe to run itself according to natural laws. (AllAboutPhilosophy) Adjective - 'deistic.'
Dualism: the concept that our mind is more than just our brain. This concept entails that our mind has a non-material, spiritual dimension. (AllAboutPhilosophy, systems of thought) A division of human beings distinguished by Rene Descartes and earlier proposed by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, into physical substance and thinking substance. The most famous modern defenders of dualism are the philosopher Karl Popper and the neurophysiologist and Nobel laureate John Eccles. (Koch, 5) The idea that mind and body were separate entities that interact to produce sensations, emotions, and other conscious experiences. (Hockenbury, 3) Adjective - 'dualistic.' Also referred to as ‘interactive dualism.’