Ethical Realism

February 16, 2010

What is Philosophy? Free Ebook (Updated 6/27/2011)

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 2:12 am
Tags: , ,

I have included my my free ebook that discusses the main ideas of philosophy as well as a short answer to the question, “What is Philosophy?” This is the first chapter to a larger “introduction to philosophy” guide book (reader) that I wrote for my philosophy students.


I introduce many of the basic ideas of philosophy, such as argumentation, the distinction between philosophy and science, and skepticism. Philosophy is a quest to understand the universe and to live a better life based on that understanding.

What is Philosophy?

Simply put, philosophers hope that they can understand the universe and use that knowledge to live a good life. (Understanding what consists in a good life can help us do so). Philosophy is a way of life devoted to live up to a hypothesized ideal, or to the very least, a hobby consisting of hypothesizing about life’s most difficult questions.

Philosophy means “love of wisdom.” To be a philosopher is to try to be wise (generally by hypothesizing about various essential elements of reality.) For example, philosophers who hypothesizes that killing people is always wrong and successfully defends such a view from objections are people who will then prove their relative certainty through their behavior. They will have to either give up their hypothesis, or decide never to kill anyone, even in self defense.

Philosophy is not separate from natural science, which is an “empirical application of philosophy.” Scientists use the same intellectual process as philosophers with an added element of careful observation and testing.

Theology, an intellectual attempt to understand God and other supernatural entities, is not completely separate from philosophy either. However, philosophers have historically been weary of metaphysics, and hypothesizing about “supernatural entities” is especially worrisome. Many philosophers dismiss theology because they don’t feel the need to hypothesize about something that we seem to know little to nothing about.


  1. […] Read a little about what philosophy is. For example, my free Introduction To Philosophy ebook. […]

    Pingback by How to Become a Philosopher « Ethical Realism — February 18, 2010 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  2. […] This was originally published in my ebook,”What is Philosophy?“ […]

    Pingback by The Search for Truth « Ethical Realism — June 28, 2011 @ 4:00 am | Reply

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