Tuesday, May 4, 2010



Expounded by: William James (1842-1910), Charles Pierce (1839-

1914), John Dewey (1859-1952)


It is a 19th century American school of thought that believes the

meaning or value of an idea lays only in its practice consequences.

Pragmatism refers specifically the philosophy espoused by early American

philosophers like William James and C. S. Peirce, and generally to later

philosophies which are derived from those earlier efforts.

According to Pragmatism, the truth or meaning of an idea or a proposition

lies in its observable practical consequences rather than in anything more

metaphysical. Basically, it can be summarized by the phrase "whatever

works, is likely true." Because reality changes, "whatever works" will also

change - thus, "truth" must also change over time. This means that no

one can claim to possess any final or ultimate truth.

Pragmatism became popular with American philosophers and even the

American public because of its close association with modern natural and

social sciences. The scientific worldview was growing in both influence and

authority; pragmatism, in turn, was regarded as a philosophical sibling or

cousin who was believed to be capable of producing the same progress

with inquiry into subjects like morals and the meaning of life.


Expounded by: St Augustine (354-430)


Predestination states that everyone’s life is determined

beforehand by God and free will is an illusion.

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Predestination is a religious concept, which involves the relationship

between God and his creation. The religious character of predestination

distinguishes it from other ideas about determinism and free will. Those

who believe in predestination, such as John Calvin, believe that before the

creation God determined the fate of the universe throughout all of time

and space.

Discussion of predestination usually involves consideration of whether

God is omniscient, or eternal or atemporal (free from limitations of time

or even causality). In terms of these ideas, God may see the past,

present, and future, so that God effectively knows the future. If God in

some sense knows ahead of time what will happen, then events in the

universe are effectively predetermined from God's point of view. This is a

form of determinism but not predestination since the latter term implies

that God has actually determined (rather than simply seen) in advance

the destiny of creatures.

Predestination may be described under two types, with the basis for each

found within their definition of free will. Between these poles, there is a

complex variety of systematic differences, particularly difficult to describe

because the foundational terms are not strictly equivalent between

systems. The two poles of predestinarian belief may be usefully described

in terms of their doctrinal comparison between the Creator's freedom, and

the creature's freedom. These can be contrasted as either univocal, or

equivocal conceptions of freedom.

In terms of ultimates, with God's decision to create as the ultimate

beginning, and the ultimate outcome, a belief system has a doctrine of

predestination if it teaches:

God's decision, assignment or declaration concerning the lot of

people is conceived as occurring in some sense prior to the

outcome, and

The decision is fully predictive of the outcome, and not merely



Expounded by: Benedict Spinoza (1632-77), Gottfried von Leibnitz


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It's a 17th century European philosophy that reason is the only

true source of knowledge i.e., Opposite of Empiricism.

Rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or

justification". In more technical terms it is a method or a theory "in which

the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive".

Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of

rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position "that reason has

precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge" to the radical

position that reason is "the unique path to knowledge". Given a premodern

understanding of reason, "rationalism" is identical to philosophy,

the Socratic life of inquiry, or the zetetic interpretation of authority (open

to the underlying or essential cause of things as they appear to our sense

of certainty). In recent decades, Leo Strauss sought to revive Classical

Political Rationalism as a discipline that understands the task of

reasoning, not as foundational, but as maieutic.

The distinction between rationalists and empiricists was drawn at a later

period, and would not have been recognized by the philosophers involved.

Also, the distinction was not as clear-cut as is sometimes suggested; for

example, the three main rationalists were all committed to the importance

of empirical science, and in many respects the empiricists were closer to

Descartes in their methods and metaphysical theories than were Spinoza

and Leibniz.


Expounded by: Rene Descartes (1598-1650)


It’s a Greek philosophy that believes that everything is open to

doubt. It was later adopted by French thinker, Descartes.

Philosophical skepticism is both a philosophical school of thought and a

method that crosses disciplines and cultures. Many skeptics critically

examine the meaning systems of their times, and this examination often

results in a position of ambiguity or doubt. This skepticism can range from

disbelief in contemporary philosophical solutions, to agnosticism, to

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rejecting the reality of the external world. One kind of scientific skepticism

refers to the critical analysis of claims lacking empirical evidence. We are

all skeptical of some things, especially since doubt and opposition are not

always clearly distinguished. Philosophical skepticism, however, is an old

movement with many variations, and contrasts with the view that at least

one thing is certain, but if by being certain we mean absolute or

unconditional certainty, then it is doubtful if it is rational to claim to be

certain about anything. Indeed, for Hellenistic philosophers claiming that

at least one thing is certain makes one a dogmatist.

Philosophical skepticism begins with the claim that the skeptic currently

does not have knowledge. Some adherents maintain that knowledge is, in

theory, possible. It could be argued that Socrates held that view. He

appears to have thought that if people continue to ask questions they

might eventually come to have knowledge; but that they did not have it

yet. Some skeptics have gone further and claimed that true knowledge is

impossible, for example the Academic school in Ancient Greece well after

the time of Carneades. A third skeptical approach would be neither to

accept nor reject the possibility of knowledge.


Expounded by: Zeno of Citium (334-262 BC), Seneca of Rome (4 BC-AD



Stoics propound that virtue, not honour, family or possessions, is

of worth in life; and that a virtuous man can achieve happiness in

all circumstances.

Stoicism was a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno

of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The stoics considered destructive

emotions to be the result of errors in judgment, and that a sage, or

person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not undergo such

emotions. Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between

cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous

to maintain a will that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics

presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best

indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but

how he behaved. Later Roman Stoics, such as Seneca and Epictetus,

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emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for happiness," a sage was

immune to misfortune. This belief is similar to the meaning of the phrase

'stoic calm', though the phrase does not include the "radical ethical" Stoic

views that only a sage can be considered truly free, and that all moral

corruptions are equally vicious.

The Stoics provided a unified account of the world, consisting of formal

logic, non-dualistic physics and naturalistic ethics. Of these, they

emphasized ethics as the main focus of human knowledge, though their

logical theories were to be of more interest for many later philosophers.

Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a

means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds

that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to

understand the universal reason.

A primary aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individual’s ethical

and moral well-being: "Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with

Nature." This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal

relationships; "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy", and to accept

even slaves as "equals of other men, because all alike are sons of God."


Expounded by: Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), Ralph Waldo Emerson



It’s a 19th century doctrine that says philosophy must extend

beyond the limits of experience.

Transcendentalism was a group of new ideas in literature, religion,

culture, and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early to

middle 19th century. It is sometimes called American transcendentalism

to distinguish it from other uses of the word transcendental.

Transcendentalism began as a protest against the general state of culture

and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard and

the doctrine of the Unitarian church taught at Harvard Divinity School.

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Among transcendentalists' core beliefs was an ideal spiritual state

that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized

through the individual's intuition, rather than through the

doctrines of established religions. Prominent transcendentalists

included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Orestes Brownson,

William Henry Channing, James Freeman Clarke, Christopher Pearse

Cranch, Convers Francis, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Henry Hedge,

Sylvester Judd, Elizabeth Peabody, George Ripley, Amos Bronson Alcott,

and Jones Very.


Expounded by: Jeremy Bentham (1748-1836), James Mill (1773-1836),

John Stuart Mill (1806-73), Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900)


According to Utilitarianism, good consists in creating the greatest

happiness for the largest number of people.

Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined

solely by its contribution to overall utility: that is, its contribution to

happiness or pleasure as summed among all people. It is thus a form of

consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is

determined by its outcome.

Utilitarianism is often described by the phrase "the greatest good for the

greatest number of people", and is also known as "the greatest happiness

principle". Utility, the good to be maximized, has been defined by various

thinkers as happiness or pleasure (versus suffering or pain), although

preference utilitarian define it as the satisfaction of preferences. It may be

described as a life stance, with happiness or pleasure being of ultimate


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