Archives

The Golden Rule

I. Definition “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the idea (also called the law of reciprocity) that may be the most universally applauded moral principle on Earth—the Golden Rule. Something like it appears in every major religion and ethical philosophy. The wording above is from the King James Bible, Matthew 7:12, however Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Confucian, and Zoroastrian vers... »

Telos

I. Definition Do you believe that everything has a purpose? Aristotle, the ancient Greek father of western philosophy, thought so, and he called that purpose, telos (pronounced ‘TELL-os’ or ‘TAY-los’). The word can mean ‘purpose,’ ‘intent,’ ‘end,’ or ‘goal,’ but as usual, Aristotle used it in a more specific and subtle sense—the inherent purpose of each thing, the ultimate reason for each thing be... »

Syllogism

I. Definition A syllogism is a systematic representation of a single logical inference. It has three parts: a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. The parts are defined this way: The major premise contains a term from the predicate of the conclusion The minor premise contains a term from the subject of the conclusion The conclusion combines major and minor premise with a “therefore” s... »

Elitism

I. Definition An elite is a relatively small group of people with the highest status in a society, or in some domain of activity, who have more privileges or power than other people due to their status. Elitism is believing in or promoting this sort of arrangement, whether that be in the academic world, politics, art, sports, or anywhere else. In socio-political philosophy elitism is the belief th... »

Utilitarianism

I. Definition Utilitarianism (pronounced yoo-TILL-ih-TARE-ee-en-ism) is one of the main schools of thought in modern ethics (also known as moral philosophy). Utilitarianism holds that what’s ethical (or moral) is whatever maximizes total happiness while minimizing total pain. The word total is important here: if you act ethically according to utilitarianism, you’re not maximizing your happiness, b... »

Idealism

I. Definition In popular usage, an idealist is someone who believes in high ideals and strives to make them real, even though they may be impossible. It’s often contrasted with pragmatist or realist, i.e. someone whose goals are less ambitious but more achievable. This sense of “idealism” is very different from the way the word is used in philosophy. In philosophy, idealism is about the basic stru... »

Critical Thinking

I. Definition Critical thinking is the ability to reflect on (and so improve) your thoughts, beliefs, and expectations. It’s a combination of several skills and habits such as: Curiosity, the desire for knowledge and understanding. Curious people are never content with their current understanding of the world, but are driven to raise questions and pursue the answers. Curiosity is endless — the bet... »

Absurdism

I. Definition All human beings seem to crave meaning, search for it, and create it. We constantly make up stories out of our lives to give them meaning.  And we search for explanations for the universe in general. Religion may be the most popular source of meaning for people; believing in a god or gods, a spirit-world, an afterlife, or a holy book, or practicing ritual, prayer, or meditation makes... »

Egoism

I. Definition You may think you already know egoism; but you’re probably thinking of egotism—self-importance, or self-centeredness.  In contrast, egoism is the philosophical view that human beings do, or should, always act for their own benefit.  Both words are derived from the Latin word for “I” – ego. Egoism and egotism are quite different.  For example, egotists often talk about themselves a lo... »

Deontology

I. Definition Deontology is a school of moral philosophy in which ethical behavior equals following rules. Deontologists believe that the goal of moral philosophy should be to figure out the “rules” for living a moral life and that once people know those rules they should follow them. “The Golden Rule” (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is an example of deontology; it’s a moral ru... »