Three Areas of Philosophy
Theory of Reality : Ontology & Metaphysics.
Theory of Knowledge: Epistemology--from episteme and logos.
Theory of Value: Axiology--from the Greek axios (worth, value) and logos.
Substance vs. Process
Are the basic things substances--self-contained, self-sufficient and eternal
Or are they changing processes, interdependent upon one another?
Substance philosophy dominates both Asian and Euro-American philosophy.
Examples of substances
God: eternal and unchanging
souls: eternal and unchanging
atoms: are not created and cannot be destroyed.
The process philosophers
Europe & America: Heraclitus, Hegel, Bergson, Whitehead, and Hartshorne.
Asian: Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism.
Abrahamic vs. Asian religions.
Is Reality "Organic" or
Were the ancients correct to view both society and
reality like a living body, or were modern philosophers right in thinking that we are more
like "social" atoms bouncing around in the empty space of society?
Hierarchical vs. egalitarian views of society.
Materialism: there is only matter and the mind is nothing but
brain cells firing.
Dualism: there is mental substance in addition to material substance.
Idealism/Mentalism/Spiritualism: the fundamental nature of reality is mind or spirit.
Matter is derivative or an illusion.
Neutral Monism (Gk. monas=one): fundamental nature of reality is neither mind nor
What is Human Nature?
What is the relationship between reason, the will, the emotions, and the imagination?
Are humans intrinsically good, evil, combination of the two, or neither?
Is the will free or is determined by antecedent causes and conditions (determinism)?
Is the soul immortal? Is there an afterlife or is this life all there is?
Theory of Knowledge
How and what can we know?
Rationalism: True knowledge already exists in the human soul as "innate"
Plato takes the most radical position on this issue, but Aristotle stands as a
compromise between rationalism and empiricism.
Empiricism: Knowledge comes primarily from experience and the five senses.
Epicurus, John Locke, and David Hume.
Locke believed that our minds are like "blank tablets," and experience
"writes" on our minds like we write on a blackboard. For him there is no innate
Theory of Value
Ethics: value for the individual--"What ought I do as an individual?"
Social and Political Philosophy: value for society--"What ought we do
Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics: the value in the fine arts and natural beauty.