The branches, nature and importance of philosophy as a scientific descipline

Essay by McRichardsD+, October 2006

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I am going to describe the nature of philosophy and show its importance as a scientific discipline. I will list some of its branches and explain the part of philosophy they deal with. This in turn will describe the subject matter of philosophy as a whole.

The word philosophy is derived from two Greek words: philo and sophia. The former means love, while the latter means wisdom. Therefore, the word philosophy simply means love of wisdom. Wisdom is usually associated with experience and age. Besides, it is also used for a wide knowledge and sound judgement about the various things in life.

Philosophy can be defined as a rational systematic enquiry into reality or being in its ultimate essence. Reality here means all knowables, while ultimate essence means the deepest meaning of all that can be known. Philosophy does not accept things as mere objects or ideals; it seeks the underlying meaning.

Unlike empirical sciences, philosophy talks about the things we are familiar with. 'Philosophy does not discover new empirical facts, instead reflects on the facts we are already familiar with, or those given to us by the empirical sciences.'(Stewart, D 1992:4). Philosophy widens the scope of that which we already know. For example, from our sciences and experience we all know what the world is like and how we ought to behave. However, our knowledge without philosophy is in a small limited perspective, but with the study of philosophy, it is widened and deepened. The main interest of philosophy is to apply reason in analysing things. For instance, some people have beliefs and observe them, but they do not even know where such beliefs come from. Philosophical questions would be: should they do what they do? Which difference does it bring if they observe and keep such beliefs?...