Meaning of philosophy

Philosophy is one’s integrated view of the world. It is a system of beliefs about reality which includes an understanding of the nature of existence, man, and his role in this world. Every man has an understanding of the world. Philosophy provides the framework for which a man can understand the world. The word philosophy is derived from ancient Greek word ‘philosophia’, which is a combination of two words, philos(love) and sophia (wisdom). Therefore the literal meaning of philosophy is love of wisdom.

Philosophy is the oldest and original discipline. We may call it as the mother of all the arts and the science of all sciences. From the origin of mankind itself man has a fundamental characteristic which differentiates man from the other beings, which is curiosity. It is the curious nature of man that has led him to wonder, ponder and then learn. Man’s curiosity about one’s self and the environment leads him to find answers about many natural phenomena and helped to gain scientific knowledge. In ancient days’ men, who had the curiosity and a tendency to find the secrets behind natural phenomena and the existence of the world are named as philosophers. According to Plato, “he who has a taste for every sort of knowledge and who is curious to learn and is never satisfied may be justly termed a philosopher”. The areas discussed by philosophers are thus became philosophy. In old days science was known as natural philosophy, which means that science is derived from philosophy. The great philosophers, namely Thales of Greece, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle etc., were great scientists of their time. But the difference between science and philosophy is that philosophy goes where hard science can’t, or won’t. While science is concerned only about acquisition of knowledge, philosophers try to find out answers about everything from metaphysics to morality.

In Sanskrit, philosophy is known as ‘Darshan’ which means knowledge of reality. The word ‘Darshan’ comes from the word ‘Drish’ which means to see. Thus true knowledge can be received by ‘seeing.’ Philosophy is the never ending thirst for knowledge. It is a method of critical thinking. It answers the ultimate questions of life. In India, philosophy or Darshan is considered to be of great importance because it helps in guiding the destiny of human life. According to Dr. Radhakrishnan, “It is a logical inquiry into the nature of reality.”

The common questions posed by philosophers are; who am I? why am I here? what should I be doing? where am I going?  is our universe real? do we have free will? is there life after death? what are numbers?

Theory of knowledge and its relationship to education.

Education deals with the acquisition of knowledge. An important area of the functioning of philosophy is concerned with the theory of knowledge. While education concern about knowledge philosophy determines the ways and means of giving knowledge. A philosopher thinks of the consequences of transmitting knowledge and gives the nature of knowledge which is to be transmitted to pupils.

Knowledge versus Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom may sound like synonyms, but they are not. Knowledge is the information that we have digested. It is the accumulation of facts and data that we have learnt about or experienced. Wisdom is the ability to apply this knowledge to the greater scheme of life.  It is the common sense to apply knowledge. For example if a man knows how to manage, save and spend his money, then it is his knowledge. If he understands how money impacts the quality of his life and his future, then it is his wisdom. John A. Morrison commented about knowledge and wisdom as; “Knowledge comes by taking things apart: analysis. But wisdom comes by putting things together: synthesis.”

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