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Branches of philosophy

Metaphysics
What is Metaphysics?
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy responsible for the study of existence. It is the foundation of a worldview. It answers
the question "What is?" It encompasses everything that exists, as well as the nature of existence itself. It says whether the world
is real, or merely an illusion. It is a fundamental view of the world around us.
Why is Metaphysics important?
Metaphysics is the foundation of philosophy. Without an explanation or an interpretation of the world around us, we would be
helpless to deal with reality. We could not feed ourselves, or act to preserve our lives. The degree to which our metaphysical
worldview is correct is the degree to which we are able to comprehend the world, and act accordingly. Without this firm
foundation, all knowledge becomes suspect. Any flaw in our view of reality will make it more difficult to live.
What are the key elements of a rational metaphysics?
Reality is absolute. It has a specific nature independent of our thoughts or feelings. The world around us is real. It has a specific
nature and it must be consistent to that nature. A proper metaphysical worldview must aim to understand reality correctly.
The physical world exists, and every entity has a specific nature. It acts according to that nature. When different entities
interact, they do so according to the nature of both. Every action has a cause and an effect. Causality is the means by which
change occurs, but the change occurs via a specific nature.
Epistemology
What is Epistemology?
Epistemology is the study of our method of acquiring knowledge. It answers the question, "How do we know?" It encompasses
the nature of concepts, the constructing of concepts, the validity of the senses, logical reasoning, as well as thoughts, ideas,
memories, emotions, and all things mental. It is concerned with how our minds are related to reality, and whether these
relationships are valid or invalid.
Why is Epistemology important?
Epistemology is the explanation of how we think. It is required in order to be able to determine the true from the false, by
determining a proper method of evaluation. It is needed in order to use and obtain knowledge of the world around us. Without
epistemology, we could not think. More specifically, we would have no reason to believe our thinking was productive or
correct, as opposed to random images flashing before our mind. With an incorrect epistemology, we would not be able to
distinguish truth from error. The consequences are obvious. The degree to which our epistemology is correct is the degree to
which we could understand reality, and the degree to which we could use that knowledge to promote our lives and goals. Flaws
in epistemology will make it harder to accomplish anything.
What are the key elements of a proper Epistemology?
Our senses are valid, and the only way to gain information about the world. Reason is our method of gaining knowledge, and
acquiring understanding. Logic is our method of maintaining consistency within our set of knowledge. Objectivity is our means
of associating knowledge with reality to determine its validity. Concepts are abstracts of specific details of reality, or of other
abstractions. A proper epistemology is a rational epistemology.
Ethics
What is Ethics?
Ethics is the branch of study dealing with what is the proper course of action for man. It answers the question, "What
do I do?" It is the study of right and wrong in human endeavors. At a more fundamental level, it is the method by
which we categorize our values and pursue them. Do we pursue our own happiness, or do we sacrifice ourselves to a
greater cause? Is that foundation of ethics based on the Bible, or on the very nature of man himself, or neither?
Why is Ethics important?
Ethics is a requirement for human life. It is our means of deciding a course of action. Without it, our actions would be random
and aimless. There would be no way to work towards a goal because there would be no way to pick between a limitless number
of goals. Even with an ethical standard, we may be unable to pursue our goals with the possibility of success. To the degree
which a rational ethical standard is taken, we are able to correctly organize our goals and actions to accomplish our most
important values. Any flaw in our ethics will reduce our ability to be successful in our endeavors.
What are the key elements of a proper Ethics?
A proper foundation of ethics requires a standard of value to which all goals and actions can be compared to. This standard is
our own lives, and the happiness which makes them livable. This is our ultimate standard of value, the goal in which an ethical
man must always aim. It is arrived at by an examination of man's nature, and recognizing his peculiar needs. A system of ethics
must further consist of not only emergency situations, but the day to day choices we make constantly. It must include our
relations to others, and recognize their importance not only to our physical survival, but to our well-being and happiness. It
must recognize that our lives are an end in themselves, and that sacrifice is not only not necessary, but destructive.
Ethics
What is Ethics?
Ethics is the branch of study dealing with what is the proper course of action for man. It answers the question, "What do I do?"
It is the study of right and wrong in human endeavors. At a more fundamental level, it is the method by which we categorize
our values and pursue them. Do we pursue our own happiness, or do we sacrifice ourselves to a greater cause? Is that
foundation of ethics based on the Bible, or on the very nature of man himself, or neither?
Why is Ethics important?
Ethics is a requirement for human life. It is our means of deciding a course of action. Without it, our actions would be random
and aimless. There would be no way to work towards a goal because there would be no way to pick between a limitless number
of goals. Even with an ethical standard, we may be unable to pursue our goals with the possibility of success. To the degree
which a rational ethical standard is taken, we are able to correctly organize our goals and actions to accomplish our most
important values. Any flaw in our ethics will reduce our ability to be successful in our endeavors.
What are the key elements of a proper Ethics?
A proper foundation of ethics requires a standard of value to which all goals and actions can be compared to. This standard is
our own lives, and the happiness which makes them livable. This is our ultimate standard of value, the goal in which an ethical
man must always aim. It is arrived at by an examination of man's nature, and recognizing his peculiar needs. A system of ethics
must further consist of not only emergency situations, but the day to day choices we make constantly. It must include our
relations to others, and recognize their importance not only to our physical survival, but to our well-being and happiness. It
must recognize that our lives are an end in themselves, and that sacrifice is not only not necessary, but destructive.
Esthetics
What is Esthetics?
Esthetics is the study of art. It includes what art consists of, as well as the purpose behind it. Does art consist of music,
literature, and painting? Or does it include a good engineering solution, or a beautiful sunset? These are the questions that
aimed at in esthetics. It also studies methods of evaluating art, and allows judgments of the art. Is art in the eye of the beholder?
Does anything that appeals to you fit under the umbrella of art? Or does it have a specific nature? Does it accomplish a goal?
Why is Esthetics important?
Art has existed through all of recorded human history. It is unique to humans because of our unique form of thinking. Its
importance is based on this nature, specifically, man's ability to abstract. Art is a little understood tool of man to bring meaning
to abstract concept. Esthetics is important because it delves into the reason why art has always existed, the burning need of
mankind through the ages to see the world in a different, clear way. It further evaluates art by the standard of human life, and
whether it accomplishes the job of satisfying man's intellectual needs, or whether it tends to hurt or make worse those needs.
What are the key elements of a proper Esthetics?
Art is a selective recreation of reality. Its purpose is to concretize an abstraction to bring an idea or emotion within the grasp of
the observer. It is a selective recreation, with the selection process depending on the value judgments of the creator. These
value judgments can be observed and evaluated via the field of ethics.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD
1813:
Was born in Copenhagen.

1830:
Attended the School of Civic Virtue, stre Borgerdyd Gymnasium.

1834:
His mother died at the age of 66.

1837:
Met Regine Olsen.

1840:
Proposed her for marriage.

1841:
He broke off the engagement, completed his graduation from university.

1841-42:
Wrote his first book, De omnibus dubitandum est.

1843:
Published Either/Or, Two Upbuilding Discourses 1843, Three Upbuilding Discourses 143,
Fear and Trembling, Repetition and Four Upbuilding Discourses, 1843.
1844:
Published Two Upbuilding Discourses, 1844, Three Upbuilding Discourses, 1844,
Philosophical Fragments, The Concept of Anxiety and Four Upbuilding Discourses, 1844.

1845:
Published Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions and Stages on Life's Way, Eighteen
Upbuilding Discourses.

1846:
Published Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Two AgesA Literary
Review.

1847:
Published Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits

1848:
Published Christian Discourses, The Crisis and a Crisis in the Life of an Actress.

1849:
Published the second edition of Either/Or and The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air, The
Sickness Unto Death.

1850:
Published Practice in Christianity.

1855:
Died in Frederik's Hospital, Copenhagen.

Edmund Husserl, (born April 8, 1859, Prossnitz, Moravia, Austrian Empire [now Prostjov, Czech Republic]died April 27,
1938, Freiburg im Breisgau, Ger.), German philosopher, the founder of Phenomenology, a method for the description and
analysis of consciousness through which philosophy attempts to gain the character of a strict science. The method reflects an
effort to resolve the opposition between Empiricism, which stresses observation, and Rationalism, which stresses reason and
theory, by indicating the origin of all philosophical and scientific systems and developments of theory in the interests and
structures of the experiential life. (See phenomenology.)

Husserl developed his own individual style of working: all of his thoughts were conceived in writing, and during his life he
produced more than 40,000 pages.

Under the supervision of Carl Stumpf (1848 - 1936), a former student of Franz Brentano (1838 - 1917), Husserl
wrote "ber den Begriff der Zahl" ("On the concept of Number") in 1887, which would serve as the base for his first major
work, the "Philosophie der Arithmetik" ("Philosophy of Arithmetic") of 1891. In these early works, he tried
to combine mathematics, psychology and philosophy, his main goal being to provide a sound foundation for mathematics.

He published his major philosophical works while at the University of Gttingen: the "Logische
Untersuchungen" ("Logical Investigations") in 1901 (produced after an intensive study of the British Empiricists), and the
first volume of the "Ideen zu einer reinen Phnomenologie und phnomenologischen Philosophie" ("Ideas Pertaining to a
Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy") in 1913. It was in these works, particularly in the "Ideen",
that he introduced the major themes of his theory of Phenomenology, and Husserl himself believed that his work represented
the culmination of the whole of philosophy from Plato on, because, as he saw it, he had discovered a description of reality
which could not be denied.

Similar to Descartes, more than two centuries earlier, Husserl started from the standpoint that, for each of us, there is only one
thing which is indubitably certain, namely our own conscious awareness. That, he concluded, must be the place to start to
build our knowledge of the world around us. However, our awareness and consciousness must be awareness and
consiousness of something, and we cannot distinguish from experience alone between states of consciousness and objects of
consciousness. Husserl agreed with Skeptics down the ages who have asserted that we can never know whether objects of
consciouness have an independent existence separate from us, but he insisted that they do indubitably exist as objects of
consciousness for us and so can be investigated as such without making any unwarranted assumptions about their
independent existence. It was this general idea of Husserl's that launched the influential school of philosophy known
as Phenomenology.

His fundamental methodological principle was what he called "phenomenological reduction", essentially a kind of reflection
on intellectual content. He asserted that he could justifiably bracket the data of consciousness by suspending all
preconceptions about it, including (and especially) those drawn from what he called the naturalistic standpoint. Thus, it
really did not matter, in his philosophy, whether an object under discussion really existed or not so long as he could at least
conceive of the object, and objects of pure imagination could be examined with the same seriousness as data taken from
the objective world.

Husserl concluded, then, that consciousness has no life apart from the objects or phenomena it considers. He called this
characteristic intentionality (or object-directedness), following Brentano, and it embodied the idea that the human mind is
the only thing is the whole universe that is able to direct itself toward other things outside of itself. Husserl described a
concept he called intentional content, something in the mind which was sort of like a built-in mental description of external
reality, and which allowed us to perceive and remember aspects of objects in the real world outside.

Husserl continued to refine his Phenomenology throughout his life. His last three major books were "Vorlesungen zur
Phnomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins" ("Lectures on the Phenomenology of Inner Time-Consciousness")
published in 1928, "Formale und transzendentale Logik" ("Formal and Transcendental Logic") published in 1929,
and "Mditations cartsiennes" ("Cartesian Meditations") published in 1931. Two more volumes of his "Ideen", which he
had written during his time at Freiburg im Breisgau were published after his death, in 1952.

In his later work, Husserl moved further towards a kind of Idealism, a position which he had initially had tried to overcome
or avoid, declaring that mental and spiritual reality possessed their own reality independent of any physical basis. At first, he
espoused a kind of Transcendental Idealism, similar to that of Kant and the German Idealists, which asserted that
our experienceof things is about how they appear to us (representations), and not about those things as they are in and of
themselves, and his view generally fell short of asserting that an objective world external to us does not exist. However, as he
continued to gradually refine his thought, he ultimately arrived at an even more radical Idealist position, which
essentially denied that external objects existed at all outside of our consciousness.

Phenomenology is a broad discipline and method of inquiry in philosophy, developed largely by the German
philosophers Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, which is based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events
("phenomena") as they are perceived or understood in the human consciousness, and not of anything independent of human
consciousness.

It can be considered a branch of Metaphysics and of Philosophy of Mind, although many of it proponents claim that it
is related to, but distinct from, the other key disciplines in philosophy (Metaphysics, Epistemology, Logic and Ethics), and
that it represents more a distinct way of looking at philosophy which has repercussions on all of these other fields. It has been
argued that it differs from other branches of philosophy in that it tends to be more descriptive than prescriptive. It is
only distantly related to the epistemological doctrine of Phenomenalism (the theory that physical objects do not exist as
things in themselves but only as perceptual phenomena or bundles of sense-data situated in time and in space).

Phenomenology is the study of experience and how we experience. It studies structures of conscious experience as
experienced from a subjective or first-person point of view, along with its "intentionality" (the way an experience
is directedtoward a certain object in the world). It then leads to analyses of conditions of the possibility of intentionality,
conditions involving motor skills and habits, background social practices and, often, language.

Experience, in a phenomenological sense, includes not only the relatively passive experiences of sensory perception, but
also imagination, thought, emotion, desire, volition and action. In short, it includes everything that we live
through or perform. Thus, we may observe and engage with other things in the world, but we do not
actually experience them in a first-personmanner. What makes an experience conscious is a certain awareness one has of the
experience while living through or performing it. However, as Heidegger has pointed out, we are often not explicitly
conscious of our habitual patterns of action, and the domain of Phenomenology may spread out into semi-conscious and
even unconscious mental activity.

Many Analytic Philosophers, including Daniel Dennett (1942 - ), have criticized Phenomenology on the basis that its
explicitly first-person approach is incompatible with the scientific third-person approach, although Phenomenologists
would counter-argue that natural science can make sense only as a human activity which presupposes the fundamental
structures of the first-person perspective. John Searle has criticized what he calls the "Phenomenological Illusion" of
assuming that what is notphenomenologically present is not real, and that what is phenomenologically present is in fact
an adequate description of how things really are.

History of Phenomenology Back to Top

The term "phenomenology" is derived from the Greek "phainomenon", meaning "appearance". Hence it is the study
of appearances as opposed to reality, and as such has it roots back in Plato's Allegory of the Cave and his theory of Platonic
Idealism (or Platonic Realism), or arguably even further back in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. To differing extents,
the methodological scepticism of Ren Descartes, the British Empiricism of Locke, Hume, Berkeley and Mill, and
the Idealism of Immanuel Kant and the German Idealists all had a hand in the early development of the theory.

The term was first officially introduced by Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728 - 1777) in the 18th Century, and was
subsequently used by Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and especially by G. W. F. Hegel in his "Phenomenology of
Spirit" of 1807.

Phenomenology, as it is known today, however, is essentially the vision of one man, Edmund Husserl, which he launched in
his "Logical Investigations" of 1901, although credit should also be given to the pioneering work on intentionality (the
notion that consciousness is always intentional or directed) by Husserl's teacher, the German philosopher and
psychologist Franz Brentano (1838 - 1917) and his colleague, Carl Stumpf (1848 - 1936).

Husserl formulated his classical Phenomenology first as a kind of "descriptive psychology" (sometimes referred to as Realist
Phenomenology) and later as a transcendental and eidetic science of consciousness (Transcendental Phenomenology). In
his "Ideas" of 1913, he established the key distinction between the act of consciousness ("noesis") and the phenomena at
which it is directed (the "noemata"). In his later transcendental period, Husserl concentrated more on the ideal, essential
structures of consciousness, and introduced the method of phenomenological reduction specifically to eliminate any
hypothesis on the existence of external objects.

Martin Heidegger criticized and expanded Husserl's phenomenological enquiry (particularly in his "Being and Time" of
1927) to encompass our understanding and experience of Being itself, and developed his original theory of "Dasein" (the non-
dualistic human being, engaged in the world). According to Heidegger, philosophy is not at all a scientific discipline, but is
more fundamental than science itself (which to him is just one way among many of knowing the world, with no specialized
access to truth). Heidegger, then, took Phenomenology as a metaphysical ontology rather than as the foundational
discipline Husserlbelieved it to be. Husserl charged Heidegger with raising the question of ontology but failing to answer it,
but Heidegger's development of Existential Phenomenology greatly influenced the subsequent
French Existentialism movement.

Other than Husserl and Heidegger, the most famous of the classical Phenomenologists were Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice
Merleau-Ponty (1908 - 1961), Max Scheler (1874 - 1928), Edith Stein (1891 - 1942), Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889 -
1977), Alfred Schutz (1899 - 1959), Hannah Arendt (1906 - 1975) and Emmanuel Levinas (1906 - 1995).

It is a fundamental concept in the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger, particularly in his magnum opus Being and
Time. Heidegger uses the expression Dasein to refer to the experience of being that is peculiar to human beings.