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By Stephen Palmquist (stevepq@hkbu.edu.hk)


This Glossary briefly defines the most important technical terms used
in The Tree of Philosophy. Where relevant, opposite terms are given in
parentheses at the end of the definition. Words defined herein (including
slight variations) appear in italics the first time they are used in the
definition of some other word in either section of this Glossary. An asterisk
(*) is appended to any italicized word that is defined in the other section.
The first section defines terms used mainly by Kant. The second section
defines other technical terms as they are used in this text, usually naming
the philosopher(s) who used them in the specified way(s).
I. Kant's Technical Terms
a posteriori: a way of gaining knowledge by appealing to some particular
experience(s). Kant used this method to establish empirical and
hypothetical truths*. (Cf. a priori.)
a priori: a way of gaining knowledge without appealing to any particular
experience(s). Kant used this method to establish transcendental and
logical truths*. (Cf. a posteriori.)
aesthetic: having to do with sense-perception. In Kant's first Critique this
word refers to space and time as the necessary conditions for senseperception. The first half of his third Critique examines the subjective
purposiveness in our perception of beautiful or sublime objects in order to
construct a system of aesthetic judgment. For example, he defined beauty*
in terms of four basic principles: subjective universality, disinterested
delight, purposiveness without a purpose, and necessary delight.(Cf.

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teleological.)
analysis: division of a representation into two opposing representations,
with a view toward clarifying the original representation. Philosophy* as
metaphysics employs analysis more than synthesis. (Cf. synthesis.)
analytic: a statement or an item of knowledge that is true solely because of
its conformity to some logical laws. "All bachelors are unmarried" is a
typical analytic proposition*. (Cf. synthetic.)
anarchy: a politicalsystem having "no ruling power" ("an" and "arche" in
Greek) and serving as the basis for many versions of utopian visions.
appearance: an object of experience, when viewed from the transcendental
perspective. Though often used as a synonym for phenomenon, it technically
refers to an object considered to be conditioned by space and time, but not
by the categories. See also appearance*. (Cf. thing in itself.)
architectonic: the logical structure given by reason (especially through the
use of twofold and threefold divisions), which the philosopher should use as
a plan to organize the contents of any system.
autonomy: the principle of self-legislation, whereby the subject freely
chooses his or her own ends by imposing the moral law onto the will. An
action must be autonomous in order to be moral. (Cf. heteronomy.)
belief: holding something to be true on the basis of subjective certainty,
even though objective certainty is lacking. See also faith. (Cf. knowledge.)
categorical imperative: a command expressing a general, unavoidable
requirement of the moral law. Its three formulations convey the
requirements of universalizability, respect and autonomy. Together they
establish that an action is properly called "morally good*" only if (1) we can
will all persons to do it, (2) it enables us to treat other persons as ends and
not merely as the means to our own selfish ends, and (3) it allows us to see
other persons as mutual law-makers in an ideal "kingdom of ends".
categories: the most general concepts, in terms of which every object must

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be viewed in order for it to become an object of empirical knowledge. The


four main categories (quantity, quality, relation, and modality) each have
three sub-categories, forming a typical example of a twelvefold,
architectonic pattern. (Cf. space and time.)
concept: the active species of representation, by means of which our understanding enables us to think. By requiring perceptions to conform to the
categories, concepts serve as "rules" allowing us to perceive general
relations between representations. (Cf. intuition.)
conscience: the faculty of the human subject that enforces the moral law in
a particular way for each individual by providing an awareness of what is
right and wrong in each situation.
Copernican revolution: in astronomy, the theory that the earth revolves
around the sun; in philosophy*, the (analogous) theory that the subject of
knowledge does not remain at rest, but revolves around (i.e., actively determines certain aspects of ) the object. Thus, the formal characteristics of the
empirical world (i.e., space and time and the categories) are there only
because the subject's mind puts them there, transcendentally.
Critical: Kant's philosophical* method, distinguishing between different
perspectives and then using such distinctions to settle otherwise
irresolvable disputes. The Critical approach is not primarily negative, but is
an attempt to adjudicate quarrels by showing how both sides have a
measure of validity, once their perspective is properly understood. Kant's
system of Critical philosophy examines the structure and limitations of
reason itself, in order to prepare a secure foundation for metaphysics. .
Critique: to use the Critical approach to doing philosophy*. This term
appears in the titles of the three main books in Kant's Critical philosophy,
which adopt the theoretical, practical and judicial standpoints, respectively.
disposition: the tendency a person has in any given situation to act either
good* or bad (i.e., to obey the moral law or to disobey it). (Cf.
predisposition.)
duty: an action that we are obligated to perform out of respect for the moral

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law.
empirical: one of Kant's four main perspectives, aiming to establish a kind
of knowledge that is both synthetic and a posteriori. Most of the knowledge
we gain through ordinary experience, or through science*, is empirical.
"This table is brown" is a typical empirical statement. (Cf. transcendental).
experience: the combination of an intuition with a concept in the form of a
judgment. "Experience" in this (mediate) sense is a synonym for "empirical
knowledge". The phrase "possible experience" refers to a representation
that is presented to our sensibility through intuition, but is not yet known,
because it has not been presented to our understanding through concepts.
"Experience" in this (immediate) sense contrasts with "knowledge".
faculty: a fundamental power of human subjects to do something or
perform some rational function.
faith: in the first Critique, a synonym of belief. Kant encouraged a more
humble approach to philosophy* by claiming to deny knowledge in order to
make room for faith-i.e., by distinguishing between what we can know
empirically and what is transcendent, which we can approach only by
means of faith. "Practical faith" refers to the conviction that God will
reward those who adopt a good* disposition. "Rational faith" is Kant's term
for pure (moral) religion, in contrast to "historical faith", which refers to
the extra-rational tradition that attempts to explain what we cannot
understand by reason alone.
formal: the active or subjective aspect of something-that is, the aspect that
is based on the rational activity of the subject. (Cf. material.)
heteronomy: the principle of letting something other than the moral law
determine what ought to be done. This replaces freedom with something
outside of practical reason, such as a person's inclinations. Such actions on
their own are nonmoral-i.e., neither moral nor immoral-but can be immoral
if they prevent a person from doing their duty. (Cf. autonomy.)
hypothetical: one of Kant's four main perspectives, aiming to establish
knowledge that is both analytic and a posteriori-though Kant himself

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wrongly identified it as synthetic and a priori. Most metaphysical ideas are


properly viewed from this perspective, instead of from the speculative
perspective of traditional metaphysics. (Cf. logical).
ideas: the species of representation that gives rise to metaphysical beliefs.
Ideas are special concepts that arise out of our knowledge of the empirical
world, yet seem to point beyond nature to some transcendent realm. The
three most important metaphysical ideas are God, freedom and
immortality.
ideology: an idea or system* of ideas that is treated as a myth to live by and
often forced onto others who may not otherwise accept it as true.
imagination: the faculty which, when controlled by the understanding,
makes concepts out of intuitions and synthesizes intuitions with concepts
to produce objects that are ready to be judged. In aesthetic judgment, by
contrast, imagination takes control over the power of thinking. See also
imagination*.
inclination: the faculty or object that motivates a person to act in a
heteronomous way. Following inclinations is neither morally good* nor
morally bad, except when doing so directly prevents a person from acting
according to duty-i.e., only when choosing to obey an inclination results in
disobedience to the moral law.
intuition: the passive species of representation, by means of which our
sensibility enables to have sensations. By requiring appearances to be given
in space and time, intuitions allow us to perceive particular relations
between representations, thereby limiting empirical knowledge to the
sensible realm. (Cf. concept.)
judgment: in the first Critique, the use of the understanding by which an
object is determined to be empirically real, through a synthesis of intuitions
and concepts. The third Critique (adopting the judicial standpoint)
examines the form of our feelings of pleasure and displeasure in order to
construct a system based on the faculty of judgment in its aesthetic and
teleological manifestations.

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judicial: one of Kant's three main standpoints, relating primarily to experience-i.e., to what we feel, as opposed to what we know or desire to do.
Judicial reason is virtually synonymous with "Critique" itself, and is
concerned with questions about our deepest ways of experiencing the
world. Finding the source of two examples of such experiences is the task of
the third Critique. (Cf. theoretical and practical.)
knowledge: the final goal of the understanding in combining intuitions and
concepts. If they are pure, the knowledge will be transcendental; if they are
impure, the knowledge will be empirical. The certainty produced must be
objective as well as subjective. In a looser sense, "knowledge" also refers to
what arises out of adopting any legitimate perspective. (Cf. belief.)
logical: one of Kant's four main perspectives, aiming to establish a kind of
knowledge that is both analytic and a priori. It is concerned with nothing
but the relationships between concepts. The law of noncontradiction
(A-A) is the fundamental law of traditional, Aristotelian or analytic logic*.
Synthetic logic* is based on the opposite, the law of contradiction (A=-A).
(Cf. hypothetical.)
material: the passive or objective aspect of something-that is, the aspect
that is based on the experience a subject has, or on the objects given in such
an experience. (Cf. formal.)
maxim: the material rule or principle used to guide a person in a particular
situation about what to do (e.g., "I should never tell a lie"). It thus provides a
kind of bridge between a person's inner disposition and outer actions.
metaphysics: the highest aspect of philosophy*, attempting to gain
knowledge of the ideas. Because the traditional, speculative perspective fails
to succeed in this task, Kant suggests a new, hypothetical perspective for
metaphysics. Metaphysics can succeed only when it is preceded by
Critique. See also metaphysics*.
moral law: the one "fact" of practical reason that is present in every
rational person, though some people are more aware of it than others. The
moral law, in essence, is our knowledge of the difference between good* and
evil, and our inner conviction that we ought to do what is good. See also

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categorical imperative.
noumena/noumenal: objects viewed as having transcendent reality. Also
the realm consisting of such objects. (Cf. phenomena/phenomenal.)
object: a general term for any "thing" that is conditioned by the subject's
representation, and so is capable of being known. The thing in itself is a
thing that cannot become an object of human knowledge. (Cf. subject.)
objective: related more to the object or representation out of which knowledge is constructed than to the subject possessing the knowledge.
Considered transcendentally, objective knowledge is less certain than
subjective knowledge; considered empirically, objective knowledge is more
certain. (Cf. subjective.)
opinion: holding something to be true even though both objective and
subjective certainty are lacking. (Cf. ignorance*.)
perspective: Kant himself did not use this word, but he used a number of
other, equivalent expressions, such as standpoint, way of thinking,
employment of understanding, etc. The main Critical perspectives are the
transcendental, empirical, logical, and hypothetical. See also perspective*.
phenomena/phenomenal: objects of knowledge, viewed empirically, in
their fully knowable state-i.e., conditioned by space and time and the
categories. Also the realm consisting of such objects. See also appearance.
(Cf. noumena/noumenal.)
practical: one of Kant's three main standpoints, relating primarily to
action-i.e., to what we desire to do as opposed to what we know or feel.
Finding the sources of such action is the task of the second Critique.
Practical reason is a synonym for will; both terms relate to issues
concerning morality. (Cf. theoretical and judicial.)
predisposition: the natural tendency a person has, apart from (or before
having) any experience, to be morally good* or evil. (Cf. disposition.)
pure: not mixed with anything sensible. Although its proper opposite is

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"impure", Kant normally opposes "pure" to "empirical".


rational: grounded in the faculty of reason rather than in sensibility.
reality/real: if regarded from the empirical perspective, this refers to the
ordinary world of nature, or to an object in it; if regarded from the
transcendental perspective, it refers to the transcendent realm consisting
of noumena.
reason: in the first Critique, the highest faculty of the human subject, to
which all other faculties are subordinated. It abstracts completely from the
conditions of sensibility and has a predetermined architectonic form. The
second Critique (adopting the practical standpoint) examines the form of
our desires in order to construct a system based on the faculty of reason.
Reason's primary function is practical; though interpreters have often
regarded its theoretical function as primary, Kant viewed the latter as being
subordinate.
religion: the way of acting, or perspective, whereby we interpret all our
duties as divine commands.
representation: the most general word for an object at any stage in its determination by the subject, or for the subjective act of determining the
object at that level. The main types of representations are intuitions,
concepts, and ideas.
sensibility: the faculty concerned with passively receiving objects. This is
accomplished through physical and mental sensations, via "outer sense"
and "inner sense", respectively. However, such sensations are possible only
if the objects are intuited, and intuition presupposes space and time to exist
as pure formal conditions. (Cf. understanding.)
sensible: presented to the subject by means of sensibility. Contrasts with
"intelligible", a term roughly equivalent to supersensible and transcendent.
space and time: considered from the empirical perspective, they constitute
the context in which objects interact outside of us; considered from the
transcendental perspective, they are pure, so they exist inside of us as

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conditions of knowledge. (Cf. categories.)


speculative: the illusory perspective adopted in traditional metaphysics by
wrongly using reason in a hopeless attempt to gain knowledge about
something transcendent. Sometimes used loosely as a synonym of
theoretical.
standpoint: the special type of perspective that determines the point from
which a whole system of perspectives is viewed. The main Critical standpoints are the theoretical, practical, and judicial.
subject: a general term for any rational person who is capable of having
knowledge. See also representation. (Cf. object.)
subjective: related more to the subject than to the object or representation
out of which knowledge is constructed. Considered transcendentally,
subjective knowledge is more certain than objective knowledge; considered
empirically, subjective knowledge is less certain. (Cf. objective.)
summum bonum: Latin for highest good*. This is the ultimate goal of the
moral system presented in the second Critique; it involves the ideal
distribution of happiness in exact proportion to each person's virtue. To
conceive of its possibility, we must postulate the existence* of God and
human immortality, thus giving practical reality to these ideas.
supersensible: see transcendent.
synthesis: integration of two opposing representations into one new representation, with a view toward constructing a new level of the object's reality. Philosophy* as Critique employs synthesis more than analysis. On the
operation of synthesis in the first Critique, see imagination. (Cf. analysis.)
synthetic: a statement or item of knowledge that is known to be true
because of its connection with some intuition. "The cat is on the mat" is a
typical synthetic proposition*. (Cf. analytic.)
system: a set of basic facts or arguments, called "elements", arranged
according to the order of their logical relationships, as determined by the

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architectonic patterns of reason. Kant's Critical philosophy* is a System


made up of three subordinate systems, each defined by a distinct
standpoint, and each made up of the same four perspectives. The System's
overall Perspective is determined by Kant's Copernican revolution.
teleological: having to do with purposes or ends. The second half of the
third Critique examines the objective purposiveness in our perception of
natural organisms in order to construct a system of teleological judgment.
(Cf. aesthetic.)
theoretical: one of Kant's three main standpoints, relating primarily to
cognition-i.e., to what we know as opposed to what we feel or desire to do.
Theoretical reason is concerned with questions about our knowledge of the
ordinary world (the world science* seeks to understand). Finding the source
of such knowledge is the task of the first Critique, which would best be
entitled the Critique of Pure Theoretical Reason. See also speculative. (Cf.
practical and judicial.)
thing in itself: an object considered transcendentally apart from all the
conditions under which a subject can gain knowledge of it. Hence the thing
in itself is, by definition, unknowable. Sometimes used loosely as a
synonym of noumenon. (Cf. appearance.)
time: see space and time.
transcendent: the realm of thought that lies beyond the boundary of possible knowledge, because it consists of objects that cannot be presented to us
in intuition-i.e., objects we can never experience with our senses
(sometimes called noumena). The closest we can come to gaining
knowledge of the transcendent realm is to think about it by means of ideas.
The opposite of "transcendent" is "immanent".
transcendental: one of Kant's four main perspectives, aiming to establish a
kind of knowledge that is both synthetic and a priori. It is a special type of
philosophical knowledge, concerned with the necessary conditions for the
possibility of experience. However, Kant believed all knowing subjects
assume certain transcendental truths*, whether or not they are aware of it.
Transcendental knowledge defines the boundary between empirical

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knowledge and speculation about the transcendent realm. "Every event has
a cause" is a typical transcendental proposition*. (Cf. empirical.)
transcendental argument: Kant's special method of proof by reference to
the possibility of experience; it claims that something (e.g., the categories)
must be true because if it were not true, experience itself would be
impossible.
understanding: in the first Critique, the faculty concerned with actively
producing knowledge by means of concepts. This is quite similar to what is
normally called the mind. It gives rise to the logical perspective, enabling us
to compare concepts with each other, and to the empirical perspective
(where it is also called judgment), enabling us to combine concepts with
intuitions in order to produce empirical knowledge. The first Critique
(adopting the theoretical standpoint) examines the form of our cognitions
in order to construct a system based on the faculty of understanding. (Cf.
sensibility.)
will: the manifestation of reason as viewed from the practical standpoint,
including but not limited to the faculty of choice.
II. Other Technical Terms used in The Tree of Philosophy
2LAR: see second level analytic relation.
analytic logic: the type of logic based on the laws of identity (A=A) and
noncontradiction (A-A). (Cf. synthetic logic.)
analytic method: see deduction.
angst: the Danish word for anxiety or dread. Kierkegaard used this term to
refer to a special kind of existential fear, involving a person's fear of
non-being. It therefore includes not only a fear of death, but a fear of the
meaninglessness of life.
appearance: Plato's term for an object* or event in the material world,
indicating it is an illusory reflection of an ultimate reality* in the world of
forms. See also appearance*.

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Apollonian: Nietzsche's term for the type of person who is willing to


sacrifice personal greatness in order to follow traditional (life-denying)
moral and political norms. Following a "slave" morality and a "herd"
mentality, they tend to be conscious, rational, and calm in their actions, and
democratic in their politics. (Cf. Dionysian.)
aristocracy: Aristotle's term for a political system* wherein a few of the
"best" ("aristos" in Greek) people have the power and authority to rule. (Cf.
oligarchy.)
beauty: one of the three aims of the philosophical quest, as conceived by
Plato and many subsequent philosophers. It corresponds to the heart and is
powered by the spirit. See also aesthetic*.
being-itself: the term used by Tillich and other existentialists to refer to
the ultimate reality* from which existing things stand out; also referred to
as "the Ground of Being" or "God".
compound relations: the term used in Palmquist's geometry of logic to
refer to any logical relation that combines an analytic* (twofold) and a
synthetic* (threefold) relation. The most significant type is twelvefold
(12CR), combining a second-level analytic relation with a simple synthetic
relation. Kant's table of categories* is a typical example of a 12CR.
deconstructionism: a literary and philosophical movement in the late
twentieth century inspired largely by Derrida and based on the conviction
that supposedly absolute foundations for knowledge* or truth are actually
tools of oppression that need to be replaced by a more playful approach to
interpreting the meaning of spoken and written language.
deduction: Euclid's analytic method of arguing that defends a
predetermined conclusion by showing how it necessarily follows from two
or more "premises" (i.e., propositions that are assumed to be true). Aristotle
demonstrated that if the premises are accepted and if the deduction is
constructed properly, without any fallacies, then the conclusion is certain.
(Cf. induction).
democracy: Aristotle's term for a political system* wherein the "common"

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("demos" in Greek) people have the power and authority to rule. He calls it
the "least bad" of the three bad types of political systems. (Cf. polity.)
demythologizing: the process of questioning a myth in order to distinguish
between aspects that are worth believing and aspects that should be given
up as meaningless.
dialogue: Plato's method of philosophizing, whereby two or more persons
discuss various philosophical questions, in the hope that reason will lead
them to the truth.
Dionysian: Nietzsche's term for the type of person who is more concerned
about personal greatness and other life-affirming values than about
following traditional moral and political norms. Following a "master"
morality and a "hero" mentality, they tend to be unconscious, irrational, and
passionate in their actions, and aristocratic in their politics. (Cf.
Apollonian.)
ecclesiocracy: Palmquist's term for the worst kind of political system*,
wherein leaders believe God directs the people solely through their
mediation and/or church structures are imposed onto the secular political
realm. Following this system requires people to give up their God-given
freedom in exchange for the presumed right to claim salvation. (Cf.
theocracy.)
empiricism: the approach to philosophy that regards sense* experience*
and observation as the fundamental means of finding philosophical truth.
Empiricists usually tend to mistrust evidence based solely on logical
argumentation. Hume is a typical example of an empiricist. (Cf.
rationalism.)
epistemology: the branch of philosophy dealing with questions about the
origin and nature of knowledge*. One of its most fundamental questions is:
"How do we come to know something that we do not already know?" Since
Descartes, most philosophers have thought one's epistemology determines
one's metaphysics, rather than vice versa.
existence: Tillich's term for the quality of "standing out" ("ex-sistere" in

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Latin) from being-itself. Also Palmquist's term for the common factor
uniting metaphysics and science through the application of ignorance and
knowledge*, respectively. (Cf. meaning.)
existentialism: the major school of twentieth century western philosophy
inspired largely by Heidegger and based on the conviction that discovering
the meaning of human existence is philosophy's main role. This is typically
accomplished by means of analogical reasoning, based on the fundamental
distinction between existing things and being-itself and/or nothing. (Cf.
hermeneutics and linguistic analysis.)
fallacy: a mistake in the formal* structure of an argument used to draw a
conclusion based on some evidence. A fallacious argument may appear to
prove something that is not actually true. Aristotle was the first to give a
systematic* account of the various types of logical* fallacies.
geometry of logic, the: Palmquist's method of mapping logical relations
onto simple geometrical figures. The simplest analytic* relations are
twofold while the simplest synthetic* relations as threefold; these are best
mapped onto the endpoints of a line and a triangle, respectively. See also
compound relations and second-level analytic relations.
goodness: according to Plato and many subsequent philosophers, one of the
three aims of the philosophical quest. It corresponds to the belly and is
powered by appetite.
hermeneutics: the major school of twentieth century western philosophy
inspired largely by Gadamer and based on the conviction that grasping the
art of meaningful interpretation is philosophy's main role. This is typically
accomplished by reflecting on the nature of texts-e.g., by focusing on the
fundamental interplay between the author's intentions and the reader's
prejudices. (Cf. existentialism and linguistic analysis.)
idealism: the metaphysical position inspired largely by Plato and based on
the conviction that the objects* we perceive in the external world are not
ultimately real, but are "shadows" or appearances of a higher or deeper
reality*.

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ignorance: the goal of metaphysics, serving as the door to all good


philosophical thinking. Kant distinguished between necessary (i.e.,
unavoidable) ignorance and empirical* ignorance that can be transformed
into knowledge* once we recognize that it exists. (Cf. opinion*.)
imagination: the power of the mind that is typically most active in a
person's childhood and reaches its highest expression in myth. See also
imagination*.
induction: Euclid's synthetic method of arguing that draws a conclusion
based on evidence collected from experience*. Hume argued that induction
always involves some guesswork, so it can never suffice to provide absolute
certainty that its conclusion is true. (Cf. deduction.)
insight: the "fruit" of the tree of philosophy; a creative new thought that
comes to a person suddenly and often unexpectedly, providing a deeper
understanding* of some issue or a way of answering a previously
unanswered question. Insights often provide a new perspective that enables
us to break through old, traditional ways of thinking. To be sure they are
more than mere opinions*. we should subject our insights to thorough
analysis*.
kingship: Aristotle's term for a political system* wherein one good person
holds all the power and authority. (Cf. tyranny.)
language-game: Wittgenstein's term for the different socially-constructed
contexts that give meaning to the way people use words in specific
situations. For example, a word such as "spirit" will have one meaning and
follow one set of rules if it appears in a religious context, but may take on a
completely new meaning, with different rules, if it appears in a
conversation between two fans at a sports event.
lateral thinking: de Bono's term for a way of thinking that runs counter to
the ordinary or accepted ("horizontal") way of thinking about a given
problem or situation . By looking at a familiar situation from a new
perspective, we can gain interesting new insights about how best to
proceed.

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linguistic analysis: the major school of twentieth century western


philosophy inspired largely by Wittgenstein and based on the conviction
that clarifying concepts* is philosophy's main role. This is typically
accomplished by means of logical* analysis* of key propositions, or by
showing how most philosophical problems arise out of a misuse of the way
words are used in ordinary language. (Cf. existentialism and hermeneutics.)
logic: the systematic* study of the structures that enable words to be
understood. The main question of logic is: "What gives words and
propositions their meaning?" See also logical*.
meaning: Palmquist's term for the common factor uniting logic and
ontology through the processes of understanding* words and silent wonder,
respectively. Frege argued that a proposition has meaning only if it has both
a "sense" and a "reference". (Cf. existence.)
metaphysics: Aristotle's term for the area of philosophy that is "after" or
"beyond" physics. Its main question is "What is ultimate reality*?" Socrates
and Kant both thought the proper outcome of studying metaphysics is
negative: to enable us to recognize our ignorance. See also metaphysics*.
myth: Eliade's term for a belief* that is held to be absolutely true.
Palmquist's term for any unquestioned belief that a person holds with deep
conviction. (Cf. science.)
numen/numinous: Otto's terms for the mysterious object* that causes a
religious* experience* to happen. He argued that a numinous experience
typically involves the same set of five elements, regardless of one's religious
tradition: awe, majesty, urgency, mystery (or "otherness"), and fascination.
oligarchy: Aristotle's term for a political system* wherein only "a few"
("oligos" in Greek) wealthy people hold all the power and authority. (Cf.
aristocracy.)
ontology: the study of being, aiming to promote silent wonder of the
mystery of human existence. One of the four main aspects of philosophy,
investigating the essential nature of various kinds of human experience*.

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paradox: a meaningful contradiction, used intentionally by philosophers


such as Chuang Tzu and Hegel in order to stimulate insight into various
aspects of transcendent* reality*. Synthetic logic can also be called the
"logic of paradox".
perspective: Palmquist's term for a way of thinking about or dealing with
an issue or problem, or a set of assumptions adopted when viewing an
object*. Knowing which perspective is assumed is important because the
same question can have different answers if different perspectives are
assumed. See also perspective*.
philosophy: the Greek term for love of wisdom. It is a product of human
understanding* whose four main aspects are metaphysics, logic, science,
and ontology. One distinctive feature of philosophy is that it is self-defining:
it is the only discipline wherein asking the question "What is this
discipline?" is part of the discipline itself.
poetry: a product of passionate human creativity (or "making") that
provides a cultural link between mythical and philosophical ways of
thinking.
polity: Aristotle's term for a political system* wherein the middle class
holds the power and authority to govern. In the version called "timocracy",
only landowners are eligible to vote. (Cf. democracy.)
proposition: a sentence or set of words that expresses a meaningful
content.
rationalism: the approach to philosophy that regards logic and rational*
argument as the fundamental means of finding philosophical truth.
Rationalists usually tend to mistrust evidence based solely on the senses*.
Descartes is a typical example of a rationalist. (Cf. empiricism.)
realism: the metaphysical position inspired largely by Aristotle and based
on the conviction that the objects* we perceive in the external world are
ultimately real.
republic: Plato's term for a political system* wherein a philosopher serves

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as king, who wisely distributes the power and authority to a trusted body of
advisers and representatives.
science: a product of human judgment; derived from "sciens", Latin for
"knowing". Viewed in this broad sense, it is one of the four main aspects of
philosophy, aiming to determine the transcendental* boundary between
knowledge* and ignorance in various fields. Viewed more narrowly, as
empirical* or natural science, it is the discipline that attempts to transcend
philosophy by ignoring all myth, yet paradoxically ends up creating one of
the greatest modern myths.
second-level analytic relation (2LAR): the most widely used term in
Palmquist's geometry of logic, referring to any set of four concepts* that can
be derived by relating two sets of opposites to each other. A 2LAR is most
often mapped onto the four poles (or the four quadrants) of a cross, though
the corners of a square can also be used.
self-reference, the problem of: a paradox that arises by applying a certain
type of proposition to itself. For example, "This sentence is false" makes
sense if it refers to some other proposition; but if it refers to itself, it
produces a logically impossible situation.
skepticism: a metaphysical position that calls into question the human
capacity to obtain knowledge*, expressed in its most influential form by
Hume.
spirit: together with mind and body, one of the three traditional aspects of
human nature. Kierkegaard regarded the human spirit as the paradoxical
key to both human sinfulness and genuine religious faith*.
symbol: Tillich's term for an empirical* object* that points beyond itself to a
transcendent* object and somehow participates in the reality* of that more
real object.
synthetic logic: the type of logic based on the laws of nonidentity (AA)
and contradiction (A=-A). (Cf. analytic logic.)
synthetic method: see induction.

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theocracy: Palmquist's term for a non-political political system*, wherein


the person regards God as the absolute ruler of the heart, regardless of
which human political system may be operating concurrently. Following
this system requires a person to give up all rights, but promises to provide
absolute freedom in return. It can be used as a model for the best kind of
human leadership. (Cf. ecclesiocracy.)
timocracy: see polity.
transvaluation: Nietzsche's term for the radical reinterpretation of
traditional morals, whereby our usual conceptions of good and evil are
negatively assessed as tools for making human beings mediocre; genuine
values must transcend* good and evil.
truth: according to Plato and many subsequent philosophers, one of the
three aims of the philosophical quest. It corresponds to the head and is
powered by reason*.
truth table: any of numerous ways of displaying the truth value of a
specific type of logical* proposition. One of the functions of truth tables is
to help avoid committing fallacies.
tyranny: Aristotle's term for a political system* wherein one bad person
holds all the power and authority. (Cf. kingship.)
verification: the principle used by Ayer and other logical* positivists in the
hope of constructing a philosophy that would be genuinely scientific. It
states that a proposition should be admitted as true only if it can be shown
to be true by reference to some empirical* state or situation.
wisdom: the ideal object* of a philosopher's love ("sophos" means wisdom
in Greek), telling us how to use or apply our knowledge* most appropriately.
According to Socrates, only God is truly wise; for human beings, wisdom
consists in recognizing our ignorance of genuine wisdom.
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Original URL:
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