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Monotheism

I. Definition Monotheism means “belief in a single God.” It usually refers to the so-called Abrahamic monotheisms: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. However, any religion with a single god counts as monotheism. Monotheisms are extremely diverse, having little in common other than the fact that they believe in only one god. Even then, the word “God” can mean an enormous range of different things (o... »

Analytic Philosophy

I. Definition Analytic philosophy is based on the idea that philosophical problems can be solved through an analysis of their terms, and pure, systematic logic. Many traditional philosophical problems are dismissed because their terms are too vague, while those that remain are subjected to a rigorous logical analysis. For example, a traditional philosophical problem is “Does God exist?” Various ph... »

Epistemology

I. Definition Epistemology (pronounced eh-PIH-stem-AH-luh-jee) is the study of knowledge. It raises questions like What is truth? Do we really know what we think we know? How can knowledge be made more reliable? It’s one of the oldest branches of philosophy, reaching far back into the time before Socrates. Today, epistemology is connected with many other areas of philosophy and science — after all... »

Casuality

I. Definition Causality is the process of one thing “causing” another. That seems pretty simple: you throw a ball, the ball hits the window, it causes the window to break? What’s weird or confusing about that? What problems does philosophy need to solve where causality is concerned? But things get more complicated when you try to think more abstractly about causality. What does the word “cause” ac... »

Taoism

I. Definition Taoism (or Daoism) is one of the main strands of traditional Chinese philosophy. It gets its name from the idea of the Dao, which means “the way,” which is the reality beyond human perception, a reality that Taoists strongly associate with the natural world. For Taoists, the ultimate goal of human life is to understand this reality and learn to live in harmony with it. One of t... »

Eudaimonia

I. Definition Eudaimonia is often translated as “happiness,” but that’s a bit misleading. Eudaimonia comes from two Greek words: Eu-: good Daimon: soul or “self.” A difficult word to translate into English. In Greek philosophy, Eudaimonia means achieving the best conditions possible for a human being, in every sense–not only happiness, but also virtue, morality, and a meaningful life. It was... »

Ataraxia

I. Definition Ataraxia (pronounced AT-uh-RAX-ee-yuh) is Greek for “undisturbed” or “untroubled.” It’s a kind of inner peace – the ability to remain calm despite fear, anger, sadness, or stress. A person who with strong ataraxia has mastered the emotions and can rise above the ordinary difficulties that we all encounter in life. Ataraxia is the ultimate form of “keeping an even keel.” Ataraxia is s... »

Stoicism

I. Definition Stoicism is a moral philosophy that emphasizes the discipline and mastery of the emotions in order to reach a wiser, rational, and peaceful mindset. However, in popular usage, “stoic” usually refers to a grim-faced, emotionless person — someone who shows neither joy nor pain, is capable of suffering much in silence, and is not very social. But this stereotype partially reflects the o... »

Confucianism

I. Definition Confucianism is the most influential of the three main philosophies and pillars of Chinese culture (along with Buddhism and Taoism)—today. It is composed of 5 main ideas that define and guide human relationships and is named after Kongfuzi (pronounced ‘kong-foo-dzih’ and Latinized as Confucius), a scholar and bureaucrat from the 5th century BC. Kongfuzi’s teachings were written down ... »

Deism

I. Definition Deism is the belief that God exists, but not in quite the same way as in traditional Christianity. Deists believe that God’s existence can be seen in nature, using the God-given ability of reason– and should not depend on faith. Deists also do not believe in obedience to a church or a book, or supernatural manifestations. Deists believe in science and natural history and see Go... »