Freedom Circle logo
Freedom Circle

Where Can You Find Freedom Today?

The study of questions about existence, knowledge and ethics
See also:
  • FreedomPedia
  • Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570–495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)? Do humans have free will?

    • Atheism - The philosophical position that belief in gods and other deities is invalid
    • Dialectics - A method of reasoning that explores a subject from various different perspectives
    • Epistemology - Branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge
    • Esthetics - Branch of philosophy that studies the nature of art
    • Ethics - Branch of philosophy that studies the values that guide human conduct
    • Logic - The science that studies the principles of valid reasoning and argument
    • Metaphysics - Branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality
    • Objectivism - Philosophy put forth by Ayn Rand
    • Philosophers - Students and teachers of fundamental principles
    • Political philosopy - Branch of philosophy that studies the nature of social organization and the proper functions of government


    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource
    Online philosophy encyclopedia, founded by James Fieser in 1995
    The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) ... was founded in 1995 to provide open access to detailed, scholarly information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of philosophy. The Encyclopedia receives no funding, and operates through the volunteer work of the editors, authors, volunteers, and technical advisers. ... The staff of 30 editors and approximately 300 authors hold doctorate degrees and are professors at universities around the world, most notably from English-speaking countries.
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    Fixed (archived) editions available since September 1997 and updated quarterly; entries and substantive updates refereed by members of its Editorial Board
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy organizes scholars from around the world in philosophy and related disciplines to create and maintain an up-to-date reference work.


    Philosophy - Online Library of Liberty
    Over 170 titles, including works by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch, Aquinas, Erasmus, Locke, Voltaire, Emerson, Adam Smith, Kant, Hume, J. S. Mill and Herbert Spencer


    Government: Creator of Uncertainty, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jul 2000
    Discusses economic subjectivism, the principle that different persons attach different values to things or events, as evidenced by the early 2000 stock market downturn
    Subjectivism in economics should not be confused with subjectivism in philosophy. Philosophy attempts to discover ultimate truths about reality and the means by which we learn them. Economics studies the unintended consequences arising from exchange. Subjectivism in philosophy holds that truth in metaphysics and the good in ethics are determined by individuals or groups, making these ultimately arbitrary. Subjectivism in economics means that human choice is what drives the economy.
    Herbert Spencer's Theory of Causation, by George H. Smith, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1981
    Discusses Spencer's epistemology, his views on causation and how it affects social interactions, concluding with his ethical theory and concept of justice
    Philosophy, according to Spencer, represents "completely unified knowledge." By deriving principles of the highest generality, it seeks to integrate the "partially-unified knowledge" of the various sciences. But philosophy is possible only to a developed intelligence, and such intelligence is "framed upon certain organized and consolidated conceptions of which it cannot divest itself and which it can no more stir without using than the body can stir without help of the limbs." These indispensable conceptions, these a priori ideas, are the axioms from which all reasoning-and therefore all philosophy—must proceed.
    Individuals And Their Rights by Tibor R. Machan, by David M. Brown, The Freeman, Jun 1990
    Review of Tibor Machan's 1989 book Individuals and Their Rights
    What he has done is ground our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a broad philosophical framework of ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics—that is to say, in a theory of what reality is fundamentally like (metaphysics), how we can know anything about it (epistemology), and what choices we should make given what we know about ourselves and the outside world (ethics or morality). Once Machan has given us answers in those realms, he can then go on to apply his answers to political questions. The more fundamental levels of philosophy do matter for questions of public policy.
    Interview with John Hospers, by John Hospers, Karen Minto, Full Context, Jun 1998
    Topics discussed include: intellectual influences, respected philosophers, determinism, David Kelley, Ayn Rand, philosophy and Objectivism in universities, the Sense of Life documentary and Atlas Shrugged
    Much of philosophy is still pretty solid, though there is an emphasis on courses with popular titles that teach one very little about philosophical concepts. ... Philosophy has to be done slowly and carefully, from the ground up, Oxford-tutorial style, with the teacher correcting the student at every step of the way. The large lecture-hall courses in philosophy don't begin to do that; they may give the student the delusion that something has been learned, and meanwhile a wonderful source of wisdom and guidance to living one's life is out there and the student never gets a hint that it's there.
    Introduction to Philosophical Inquiries, by Lester Hunt, Reason, Sep 1977
    Brief review of Tibor Machan's book Introduction to Philosophical Inquiries
    'Philosophy is not an idle game for the clever,' nor is it a series of mind-building mental exercises. It is 'essentially serious.' Metaphysics is about the nature of reality, epistemology is about the nature of knowledge (not just: whether there ever is such a thing), ethics is about how we should live, political philosophy is about how communities should be organized. Since these matters touch all of us, everyone should familiarize himself with philosophy to some extent. It is not a luxury or an amusement for the few.
    Related Topic: Tibor Machan
    The Invisible Gnomes and the Invisible Hand: South Park and Libertarian Philosophy, by Paul Cantor, 4 Dec 2006
    General discussion of South Park with more detailed review and discussion of the season 2 "Gnomes" episode
    [I]f one wanted to mount a high-minded defense of the show's low-minded vulgarity, one might go all the way back to Plato ... Toward the end of his dialogue Symposium, a young Athenian nobleman ... offers a striking image of the power of Socrates. He compares the philosopher's speeches to a statue of the satyr Silenus ... [I]n the middle ... the comic poet Aristophanes comes down with a bad case of hiccoughs ... Plato seems to be making a statement about philosophy–that it has something in common with low comedy. Both philosophy and obscene humor fly in the face of conventional opinion.
    A Philosophy Lesson [PDF], by A. Barton Hinkle, Regulation, 2011
    Argues, with various examples, that many current problems stem from the lack of proper (philosophical) reasoning, such as category errors (e.g., being unable to distinguish between stick drawings or plastic molds of guns and actual weapons)
    Feelings aren't facts, was the point of the piece, and acting as though they are is a sign of epistemological degeneracy. That last phrase raised eyebrows around the office. ... And yet. Casting an eye afield, one can't avoid concluding many of the country's current ills derive from an insufficient grounding in ethics, metaphysics, and whatnot. Especially whatnot. ... Category errors are especially common at airports and schools. Last January, Transportation Security Administration screeners confiscated cans of Play-Doh belonging to three-year-old Josh Pitney, whose grandmother had given them to him as a Christmas present.
    Philosophy the Right Way, by Aaron Ross Powell, 21 Mar 2013
    Discusses how some people reject a philosopher or political theory solely because they disagree with some aspect of the thinker or the arguments given and counsels in favor of keeping a broad mind and learning even from those with whom you may disagree
    If you think you've found a philosopher who is 100% right on every issue, it's likely you haven't ... [V]ery nearly every question philosophers wrestle with was raised 23 centuries ago by Plato. Which means people have been arguing about these issues—and offering their answers to them—for over 2,000 years—without any truly settled ... Philosophical thinking has progressed, becoming (generally) more sophisticated, and (generally) jettisoning the outright bad arguments of the past. What it should do is make us skeptical that any new arguments, or any arguments we happen to favor, are airtight.
    Related Topics: Learning, Libertarianism
    Reasoning on the Nature of Things, by Clarence B. Carson, The Freeman, Feb 1982
    Discusses how natural law doctrines were repudiated by utilitarians, why natural rights are important from an economic viewpoint, how the rights to life, liberty and property can be construed and what the author understands as the "social contract"
    Reasoning on the nature of things was part and parcel of a complex of ideas which are sometimes referred to as the natural law philosophy ... [It] was largely abandoned in the course of the nineteenth century. Its abandonment signified a major shift in thought. Natural law doctrines had been a staple of Western thought since the time of the Roman Stoics, and its antecedents go back even further than that ... [E]very revival of learning and renaissance ... brought renewed interest in natural law, up to and including the classical revival of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


    An Interview with Robert Nozick, by Robert Nozick, Julian Sanchez, 26 Jul 2001
    Topics discussed include: ethics, science and philosophy, Karl Popper and the scientific method, Ayn Rand and epistemology, consciousness, relativism and the academic left and Nozick himself
    JS: This is a continuation of the method you set out in Philosophical Explanations.
    RN: That's right. It is, from another angle, an attack on requiring proof in philosophy ... That's a significant part of what excites me about philosophy, in contrast to those people whose main motivation seems to be to exclude certain ideas, or even most ideas. They seem to want to be thought police. That's why, when these interesting conceptual ideas arise in the sciences, I think that they're continuous with philosophical ideas. They're interesting in the same way, shattering preconceptions.
    Interview with the Vamp: Why Camille Paglia hates affirmative action, defends Rush Limbaugh, and respects Ayn Rand, by Camille Paglia, Virginia Postrel, Reason, Aug 1995
    Topics discussed include: NOW, affirmative action, the Clintons, libertarianism, capitalism, academic administrators, conservatives, Rush Limbaugh, television, Christina Hoff Sommers vs. Naomi Wolf, institutions, homosexuality, nostalgia and Ayn Rand
    Paglia: ... Christina [Hoff] Sommers ... was out on the scene before my first book ... In the late '80s, she was ... fighting hand-to-hand in the professional philosophers association against the encroachment of a certain type of propagandistic feminism ... She's someone who believed when she entered professional philosophy that women should achieve at the highest levels that had been established by men ... She believes with me that the proper education for young women is exposure to ... the greatest that has been written or achieved in the history of the arts, in philosophy, and so on.

    Cartoons and Comic Strips

    Putting a Degree in Philosophy to Work ..., by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 24 Oct 2007


    Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World
        by Robert Nozick, 2001
    Contents: I: The Structure of the Objective World - Truth and Relativism - Invariance and Objectivity - Necessity and Contingency - II: The Human World as Part of the Objective World - The Realm of Consciousness - The Genealogy of Ethics
    A New Aristotle Reader
        by J. L. Ackrill (editor), Aristotle, 1988
    Contents: Translations - Aristotle's Works - Introduction - Glossary - TEXTS: Logic - Natural Philosophy - Metaphysics - Practical Philosophy - Topics - List of Books
    Philosophical Explanations
        by Robert Nozick, 1981
    Contents: Introduction - Metaphysics: The Identity of the Self - Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? - Epistemology: Knowledge and Skepticism - Value: Free Will - Foundations of Ethics - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life
    Philosophy: Who Needs It
        by Ayn Rand, 1982
    Partial contents: Philosophical Detection - The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made - The Missing Link - Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World - Kant Versus Sullivan - Causality Versus Duty - Egalitarianism and Inflation - What Can one Do?


    Giants of the Scottish Enlightenment Part One: Francis Hutcheson, by James Stacey Taylor, 7 Dec 2011
    Discusses the philosophical views of Francis Hutcheson, in particular the argument that human beings, in addition to the five traditionally recognized senses, have a public sense, a sense of honor and a moral sense
    Hutcheson recognized and accepted, as everybody in the eighteenth century and now does, that people have five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and the like. But, Hutcheson held that people have three further senses: they have a public sense, a sense of honor, and a moral sense. ... Hutcheson believes that persons have a public sense. You feel pleasure as a person of a person's happiness; you feel pain over their lack of success or their misfortune. ... You have a sense of honor when you receive appropriate gratitude for a good deed that you have done. It makes you feel happy.
    Related Topics: Ethics, Francis Hutcheson
    An Introduction to Philosophy, by Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio, 21 Aug 2006
    Part 1 of six-part, 14 video series; starts with various definitions of philosophy, then explores human capacity for error and compares how the senses are used to determine whether some proposition is valid (true) or not

    The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Philosophy" as of 17 Jul 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.