Philosophy is the study of meaning. It is claimed by its own advocates that it deals with all forms of critical thought. This is not the belief of its critics who accuse this study of all forms of systemic bias summed up as "Latin alphabet writings of dead white guys".

It is generally understood that modern Western philosophy separates ethics or moral reasoning firmly from epistemology, and both of those firmly from metaphysics or ontology. To debate something in the terms understood by philosphy requires accepting this division.

It is a "Western" study in that it takes its terms of references from scientific rationality and not hermaneutic reasonableness as is done in for instance Tao, Buddhism or Confucianism.

philosophy implies strong ontology

In those, and also the ethical traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the more modern traditions of feminism and anarchism, only a weak ontology is possible or negotiable outside the deep framing imposed by the tradition itself.

Philosophy by contrast proposes that strong ontology can exist and be a guide to acts of even extreme bodily risk.

The results of belief in this idea through the 20th century were not very good.

relation to theology

Catholic theology by contrast treats moral truth as aesthetic, and so is much more concerned with the cosmology and ontology that arise from divisions or categories that facilitate the known moral truth revealed by the canon and lives of saints. Islam is more similar to Catholicism in this regard although it's terminology was set by the list of Islamic terms in Arabic that were used in the hadith and Qu'ran and haven't evolved much since the ijtihad ceased in the 15th century. A fact decried by Irshad Manji and Ziauddin Sardar among others. The latter history of Islam has been more as a hermaneutic ethical tradition.

vs. politics

While there is a study called political philosophy it is not generally understood as being separate from study of moral reasoning or human psychology or anthropology or primatology (as Genus Homo is in the primate family).

Philosophy differs from politics itself in that politics is complicated by historicism. That is, it involves people, their histories, egos, emotions and diversity. This means that politics must be cognizant ultimately of hermaneutic factors and cannot be prone to objectivist belief or even falsifiable assertions.

Politics, as public ethics, will be seen to intersect with the more abstract form of ethics codified in academic circles. However, this will be seen mostly from the "side" of politics itself. Writing In Defense of Politics, re: his hermaneutic theory of political virtues, Bernard Crick took care to differentiate the ethics that must occur in public when public opinion is at issue, from that which can occur in private when there is much more of what the philosopher would call moral philosophy.


Many advocates of the views of Crick, or of various ethical traditions, treat philosophy and its abstract categories as a form of stupidity: not worth knowing.

This is not however the view of many of the most advanced religious scholars, who are concerned with such questions as the philosophy of science and the use of falsifiable or objectivist forms of physical knowledge and "hard science" in everyday life and decision making. The Dalai Lama XIV for instance is often said to be at least the equal of any Western teacher or professor of philosophy. Also, the views of theologically grounded individuals such as Catholics Teilhard de Chardin have come to be widely known and also respected among scientists themselves. This is true to a lesser degree of Ursula LeGuin, Thomas Berry, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and the Boston Confucians as well.

relation to science and mathematics

The philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science and philosophy of physics are not strictly branches of philosophy as such, but rather, attempts by mathematicians and scientists respectively to examine the premises of what they are doing. There is much more collaboration in philosophy of perception and of the chemical and cognitive processes that are thought to give rise to meaning in the actual mind: that is, experience. The cognitive science of mathematics is an attempt to literally replace philosophy with a rational study of meaning in narrow cognitive senses of that word.