Glossary of General Philosophical Terms
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This Glossary briefly defines the most important technical terms used in The Tree of Philosophy. Where relevant, opposite terms are given in parentheses at the end of the definition. Words defined herein (including slight variations) appear in italics the first time they are used in the definition of some other word in either section of this Glossary. An asterisk (*) is appended to any italicized word that is defined in the other section. The first section defines terms used mainly by Kant. The second section defines other technical terms as they are used in this text, usually naming the philosopher(s) who used them in the specified way(s).
I. Kant's Technical
a posteriori: a way of gaining knowledge
by appealing to some particular experience(s).
Kant used this method to establish empirical
and hypothetical truths*. (Cf. a priori.)
a priori: a way of gaining knowledge
without appealing to any particular experience(s).
Kant used this method to establish transcendental
and logical truths*. (Cf. a posteriori.)
aesthetic: having to do with sense-perception.
In Kant's first Critique this word refers to
space and time as the necessary conditions
for sense-perception. The first half of his third
Critique examines the subjective purposiveness
in our perception of beautiful or sublime objects
in order to construct a system of aesthetic
judgment. For example, he defined beauty*
in terms of four basic principles: subjective universality,
disinterested delight, purposiveness without a purpose,
and necessary delight.(Cf. teleological.)
analysis: division of a representation
into two opposing representations, with a view toward
clarifying the original representation. Philosophy*
as metaphysics employs analysis more than synthesis.
analytic: a statement or an item of
knowledge that is true solely because of its
conformity to some logical laws. "All
bachelors are unmarried" is a typical analytic
proposition*. (Cf. synthetic.)
anarchy: a politicalsystem having
"no ruling power" ("an" and "arche"
in Greek) and serving as the basis for many versions
of utopian visions.
appearance: an object of experience,
when viewed from the transcendental perspective.
Though often used as a synonym for phenomenon,
it technically refers to an object considered to be
conditioned by space and time, but not by the
categories. See also appearance*. (Cf.
thing in itself.)
architectonic: the logical structure
given by reason (especially through the use
of twofold and threefold divisions), which the philosopher
should use as a plan to organize the contents of any
autonomy: the principle of self-legislation,
whereby the subject freely chooses his or her
own ends by imposing the moral law onto the
will. An action must be autonomous in order
to be moral. (Cf. heteronomy.)
belief: holding something to be true
on the basis of subjective certainty, even
though objective certainty is lacking. See
also faith. (Cf. knowledge.)
categorical imperative: a command expressing
a general, unavoidable requirement of the moral
law. Its three formulations convey the requirements
of universalizability, respect and autonomy.
Together they establish that an action is properly
called "morally good*" only if (1)
we can will all persons to do it, (2) it enables
us to treat other persons as ends and not merely as
the means to our own selfish ends, and (3) it allows
us to see other persons as mutual law-makers in an
ideal "kingdom of ends".
categories: the most general concepts,
in terms of which every object must be viewed
in order for it to become an object of empirical
knowledge. The four main categories (quantity,
quality, relation, and modality) each have three sub-categories,
forming a typical example of a twelvefold, architectonic
pattern. (Cf. space and time.)
concept: the active species of representation,
by means of which our understanding enables
us to think. By requiring perceptions to conform to
the categories, concepts serve as "rules"
allowing us to perceive general relations between
representations. (Cf. intuition.)
conscience: the faculty of the
human subject that enforces the moral law
in a particular way for each individual by providing
an awareness of what is right and wrong in each situation.
Copernican revolution: in astronomy,
the theory that the earth revolves around the sun;
in philosophy*, the (analogous) theory that
the subject of knowledge does not remain
at rest, but revolves around (i.e., actively determines
certain aspects of) the object. Thus, the formal
characteristics of the empirical world (i.e.,
space and time and the categories) are
there only because the subject's mind puts
them there, transcendentally.
Critical: Kant's philosophical*
method, distinguishing between different perspectives
and then using such distinctions to settle otherwise
irresolvable disputes. The Critical approach is not
primarily negative, but is an attempt to adjudicate
quarrels by showing how both sides have a measure
of validity, once their perspective is properly understood.
Kant's system of Critical philosophy examines
the structure and limitations of reason itself,
in order to prepare a secure foundation for metaphysics.
Critique: to use the Critical
approach to doing philosophy*. This term appears
in the titles of the three main books in Kant's Critical
philosophy, which adopt the theoretical, practical
and judicial standpoints, respectively.
disposition: the tendency a person
has in any given situation to act either good*
or bad (i.e., to obey the moral law or to disobey
it). (Cf. predisposition.)
duty: an action that we are obligated
to perform out of respect for the moral law.
empirical: one of Kant's four main
perspectives, aiming to establish a kind of
knowledge that is both synthetic and
a posteriori. Most of the knowledge we gain
through ordinary experience, or through science*,
is empirical. "This table is brown" is a
typical empirical statement. (Cf. transcendental).
experience: the combination of an intuition
with a concept in the form of a judgment.
"Experience" in this (mediate) sense is
a synonym for "empirical knowledge".
The phrase "possible experience" refers
to a representation that is presented to our
sensibility through intuition, but is not yet
known, because it has not been presented to our understanding
through concepts. "Experience" in this (immediate)
sense contrasts with "knowledge".
faculty: a fundamental power of human
subjects to do something or perform some rational
faith: in the first Critique,
a synonym of belief. Kant encouraged a more
humble approach to philosophy* by claiming
to deny knowledge in order to make room for
faith-i.e., by distinguishing between what we can
know empirically and what is transcendent,
which we can approach only by means of faith. "Practical
faith" refers to the conviction that God will
reward those who adopt a good* disposition.
"Rational faith" is Kant's term for
pure (moral) religion, in contrast to
"historical faith", which refers to the
extra-rational tradition that attempts to explain
what we cannot understand by reason alone.
formal: the active or subjective
aspect of something-that is, the aspect that is based
on the rational activity of the subject.
heteronomy: the principle of letting
something other than the moral law determine
what ought to be done. This replaces freedom with
something outside of practical reason, such
as a person's inclinations. Such actions on
their own are nonmoral-i.e., neither moral nor immoral-but
can be immoral if they prevent a person from doing
their duty. (Cf. autonomy.)
hypothetical: one of Kant's four main
perspectives, aiming to establish knowledge
that is both analytic and a posteriori-though
Kant himself wrongly identified it as synthetic
and a priori. Most metaphysical ideas
are properly viewed from this perspective, instead
of from the speculative perspective of traditional
metaphysics. (Cf. logical).
ideas: the species of representation
that gives rise to metaphysical beliefs. Ideas
are special concepts that arise out of our
knowledge of the empirical world, yet
seem to point beyond nature to some transcendent
realm. The three most important metaphysical ideas
are God, freedom and immortality.
ideology: an idea or system*
of ideas that is treated as a myth to live
by and often forced onto others who may not otherwise
accept it as true.
imagination: the faculty which,
when controlled by the understanding, makes
concepts out of intuitions and synthesizes
intuitions with concepts to produce objects
that are ready to be judged. In aesthetic judgment,
by contrast, imagination takes control over the power
of thinking. See also imagination*.
inclination: the faculty or
object that motivates a person to act in a
heteronomous way. Following inclinations is
neither morally good* nor morally bad, except
when doing so directly prevents a person from acting
according to duty-i.e., only when choosing
to obey an inclination results in disobedience
to the moral law.
intuition: the passive species of representation,
by means of which our sensibility enables
to have sensations. By requiring appearances
to be given in space and time, intuitions allow
us to perceive particular relations between representations,
thereby limiting empirical knowledge
to the sensible realm. (Cf. concept.)
judgment: in the first Critique,
the use of the understanding by which an object
is determined to be empirically real,
through a synthesis of intuitions and
concepts. The third Critique (adopting
the judicial standpoint) examines the
form of our feelings of pleasure and displeasure
in order to construct a system based on the
faculty of judgment in its aesthetic
and teleological manifestations.
judicial: one of Kant's three main
standpoints, relating primarily to experience-i.e.,
to what we feel, as opposed to what we know or desire
to do. Judicial reason is virtually synonymous
with "Critique" itself, and is concerned
with questions about our deepest ways of experiencing
the world. Finding the source of two examples of such
experiences is the task of the third Critique.
(Cf. theoretical and practical.)
knowledge: the final goal of the understanding
in combining intuitions and concepts.
If they are pure, the knowledge will be transcendental;
if they are impure, the knowledge will be empirical.
The certainty produced must be objective as
well as subjective. In a looser sense, "knowledge"
also refers to what arises out of adopting any legitimate
perspective. (Cf. belief.)
logical: one of Kant's four main perspectives,
aiming to establish a kind of knowledge that
is both analytic and a priori. It is
concerned with nothing but the relationships between
concepts. The law of noncontradiction (A≠-A)
is the fundamental law of traditional, Aristotelian
or analytic logic*. Synthetic logic*
is based on the opposite, the law of contradiction
(A=-A). (Cf. hypothetical.)
material: the passive or objective
aspect of something-that is, the aspect that is based
on the experience a subject has, or
on the objects given in such an experience.
maxim: the material rule or
principle used to guide a person in a particular situation
about what to do (e.g., "I should never tell
a lie"). It thus provides a kind of bridge between
a person's inner disposition and outer actions.
metaphysics: the highest aspect of
philosophy*, attempting to gain knowledge
of the ideas. Because the traditional, speculative
perspective fails to succeed in this task, Kant
suggests a new, hypothetical perspective for
metaphysics. Metaphysics can succeed only when it
is preceded by Critique. See also metaphysics*.
moral law: the one "fact"
of practical reason that is present
in every rational person, though some people
are more aware of it than others. The moral law, in
essence, is our knowledge of the difference
between good* and evil, and our inner conviction
that we ought to do what is good. See also categorical
noumena/noumenal: objects viewed
as having transcendent reality. Also the realm
consisting of such objects. (Cf. phenomena/phenomenal.)
object: a general term for any "thing"
that is conditioned by the subject's representation,
and so is capable of being known. The thing in
itself is a thing that cannot become an object
of human knowledge. (Cf. subject.)
objective: related more to the object
or representation out of which knowledge
is constructed than to the subject possessing
the knowledge. Considered transcendentally,
objective knowledge is less certain than subjective
knowledge; considered empirically, objective
knowledge is more certain. (Cf. subjective.)
opinion: holding something to be true
even though both objective and subjective
certainty are lacking. (Cf. ignorance*.)
perspective: Kant himself did not use
this word, but he used a number of other, equivalent
expressions, such as standpoint, way of thinking,
employment of understanding, etc. The main
Critical perspectives are the transcendental,
empirical, logical, and hypothetical.
See also perspective*.
of knowledge, viewed empirically, in
their fully knowable state-i.e., conditioned by space
and time and the categories. Also the realm
consisting of such objects. See also appearance.
practical: one of Kant's three main
standpoints, relating primarily to action-i.e.,
to what we desire to do as opposed to what we know
or feel. Finding the sources of such action is the
task of the second Critique. Practical reason
is a synonym for will; both terms relate to
issues concerning morality. (Cf. theoretical
predisposition: the natural tendency
a person has, apart from (or before having) any experience,
to be morally good* or evil. (Cf. disposition.)
pure: not mixed with anything sensible.
Although its proper opposite is "impure",
Kant normally opposes "pure" to "empirical".
rational: grounded in the faculty
of reason rather than in sensibility.
reality/real: if regarded from the
empirical perspective, this refers to
the ordinary world of nature, or to an object
in it; if regarded from the transcendental
perspective, it refers to the transcendent
realm consisting of noumena.
reason: in the first Critique,
the highest faculty of the human subject,
to which all other faculties are subordinated. It
abstracts completely from the conditions of sensibility
and has a predetermined architectonic form.
The second Critique (adopting the practical
standpoint) examines the form of our desires in
order to construct a system based on the faculty
of reason. Reason's primary function is practical;
though interpreters have often regarded its theoretical
function as primary, Kant viewed the latter as being
religion: the way of acting, or perspective,
whereby we interpret all our duties as divine
representation: the most general word
for an object at any stage in its determination
by the subject, or for the subjective
act of determining the object at that level. The main
types of representations are intuitions, concepts,
sensibility: the faculty concerned
with passively receiving objects. This is accomplished
through physical and mental sensations, via "outer
sense" and "inner sense", respectively.
However, such sensations are possible only if the
objects are intuited, and intuition presupposes
space and time to exist as pure formal
conditions. (Cf. understanding.)
sensible: presented to the subject
by means of sensibility. Contrasts with "intelligible",
a term roughly equivalent to supersensible
space and time: considered from the
empirical perspective, they constitute
the context in which objects interact outside
of us; considered from the transcendental perspective,
they are pure, so they exist inside of us as
conditions of knowledge. (Cf. categories.)
speculative: the illusory perspective
adopted in traditional metaphysics by wrongly
using reason in a hopeless attempt to gain
knowledge about something transcendent.
Sometimes used loosely as a synonym of theoretical.
standpoint: the special type of perspective
that determines the point from which a whole system
of perspectives is viewed. The main Critical
standpoints are the theoretical, practical,
subject: a general term for any rational
person who is capable of having knowledge.
See also representation. (Cf. object.)
subjective: related more to the subject
than to the object or representation
out of which knowledge is constructed. Considered
transcendentally, subjective knowledge is
more certain than objective knowledge; considered
empirically, subjective knowledge is less
certain. (Cf. objective.)
summum bonum: Latin for highest good*.
This is the ultimate goal of the moral system
presented in the second Critique; it involves
the ideal distribution of happiness in exact proportion
to each person's virtue. To conceive of its possibility,
we must postulate the existence* of God and
human immortality, thus giving practical reality
to these ideas.
supersensible: see transcendent.
synthesis: integration of two opposing
representations into one new representation,
with a view toward constructing a new level of the
object's reality. Philosophy*
as Critique employs synthesis more than analysis.
On the operation of synthesis in the first Critique,
see imagination. (Cf. analysis.)
synthetic: a statement or item of knowledge
that is known to be true because of its connection
with some intuition. "The cat is on the
mat" is a typical synthetic proposition*.
system: a set of basic facts or arguments,
called "elements", arranged according to
the order of their logical relationships, as
determined by the architectonic patterns of
reason. Kant's Critical philosophy*
is a System made up of three subordinate systems,
each defined by a distinct standpoint, and
each made up of the same four perspectives.
The System's overall Perspective is determined by
Kant's Copernican revolution.
teleological: having to do with purposes
or ends. The second half of the third Critique
examines the objective purposiveness in our
perception of natural organisms in order to construct
a system of teleological judgment. (Cf.
theoretical: one of Kant's three main
standpoints, relating primarily to cognition-i.e.,
to what we know as opposed to what we feel or desire
to do. Theoretical reason is concerned with
questions about our knowledge of the ordinary
world (the world science* seeks to understand).
Finding the source of such knowledge is the task of
the first Critique, which would best be entitled
the Critique of Pure Theoretical Reason. See
also speculative. (Cf. practical and
thing in itself: an object considered
transcendentally apart from all the conditions
under which a subject can gain knowledge
of it. Hence the thing in itself is, by definition,
unknowable. Sometimes used loosely as a synonym of
noumenon. (Cf. appearance.)
time: see space and time.
transcendent: the realm of thought
that lies beyond the boundary of possible knowledge,
because it consists of objects that cannot
be presented to us in intuition-i.e., objects
we can never experience with our senses
(sometimes called noumena). The closest we
can come to gaining knowledge of the transcendent
realm is to think about it by means of ideas.
The opposite of "transcendent" is "immanent".
transcendental: one of Kant's four
main perspectives, aiming to establish a kind
of knowledge that is both synthetic
and a priori. It is a special type of philosophical
knowledge, concerned with the necessary conditions
for the possibility of experience. However,
Kant believed all knowing subjects assume certain
transcendental truths*, whether or not they
are aware of it. Transcendental knowledge defines
the boundary between empirical knowledge and
speculation about the transcendent realm.
"Every event has a cause" is a typical transcendental
proposition*. (Cf. empirical.)
transcendental argument: Kant's special
method of proof by reference to the possibility of
experience; it claims that something (e.g.,
the categories) must be true because if it
were not true, experience itself would be impossible.
understanding: in the first Critique,
the faculty concerned with actively producing
knowledge by means of concepts. This
is quite similar to what is normally called the mind.
It gives rise to the logical perspective, enabling
us to compare concepts with each other, and to the
empirical perspective (where it is also called
judgment), enabling us to combine concepts
with intuitions in order to produce empirical
knowledge. The first Critique (adopting the
theoretical standpoint) examines the
form of our cognitions in order to construct
a system based on the faculty of understanding.
will: the manifestation of reason
as viewed from the practical standpoint,
including but not limited to the faculty of
II. Other Technical
Terms used in The Tree of Philosophy
2LAR: see second level analytic
analytic logic: the type of logic
based on the laws of identity (A=A) and noncontradiction
(A≠-A). (Cf. synthetic logic.)
analytic method: see deduction.
angst: the Danish word for anxiety
or dread. Kierkegaard used this term to refer to a
special kind of existential fear, involving
a person's fear of non-being. It therefore includes
not only a fear of death, but a fear of the meaninglessness
appearance: Plato's term for an object*
or event in the material world, indicating it is an
illusory reflection of an ultimate reality*
in the world of forms. See also appearance*.
Apollonian: Nietzsche's term for the
type of person who is willing to sacrifice personal
greatness in order to follow traditional (life-denying)
moral and political norms. Following a "slave"
morality and a "herd" mentality, they tend
to be conscious, rational, and calm in their actions,
and democratic in their politics. (Cf. Dionysian.)
aristocracy: Aristotle's term for a
political system* wherein a few of the "best"
("aristos" in Greek) people have the power
and authority to rule. (Cf. oligarchy.)
beauty: one of the three aims of the
philosophical quest, as conceived by Plato
and many subsequent philosophers. It corresponds to
the heart and is powered by the spirit. See
being-itself: the term used by Tillich
and other existentialists to refer to the ultimate
reality* from which existing things stand out;
also referred to as "the Ground of Being"
compound relations: the term used in
Palmquist's geometry of logic to refer to any
logical relation that combines an analytic*
(twofold) and a synthetic* (threefold) relation.
The most significant type is twelvefold (12CR), combining
a second-level analytic relation with a simple
synthetic relation. Kant's table of categories*
is a typical example of a 12CR.
deconstructionism: a literary and philosophical
movement in the late twentieth century inspired largely
by Derrida and based on the conviction that supposedly
absolute foundations for knowledge* or truth
are actually tools of oppression that need to be replaced
by a more playful approach to interpreting the meaning
of spoken and written language.
deduction: Euclid's analytic method
of arguing that defends a predetermined conclusion
by showing how it necessarily follows from two or
more "premises" (i.e., propositions
that are assumed to be true). Aristotle demonstrated
that if the premises are accepted and if the deduction
is constructed properly, without any fallacies,
then the conclusion is certain. (Cf. induction).
democracy: Aristotle's term for a political
system* wherein the "common" ("demos"
in Greek) people have the power and authority to rule.
He calls it the "least bad" of the three
bad types of political systems. (Cf. polity.)
demythologizing: the process of questioning
a myth in order to distinguish between aspects
that are worth believing and aspects that should
be given up as meaningless.
dialogue: Plato's method of philosophizing,
whereby two or more persons discuss various philosophical
questions, in the hope that reason will lead
them to the truth.
Dionysian: Nietzsche's term for the
type of person who is more concerned about personal
greatness and other life-affirming values than about
following traditional moral and political norms. Following
a "master" morality and a "hero"
mentality, they tend to be unconscious, irrational,
and passionate in their actions, and aristocratic
in their politics. (Cf. Apollonian.)
ecclesiocracy: Palmquist's term for
the worst kind of political system*, wherein
leaders believe God directs the people solely through
their mediation and/or church structures are imposed
onto the secular political realm. Following this system
requires people to give up their God-given freedom
in exchange for the presumed right to claim salvation.
empiricism: the approach to philosophy
that regards sense* experience* and
observation as the fundamental means of finding philosophical
truth. Empiricists usually tend to mistrust
evidence based solely on logical argumentation.
Hume is a typical example of an empiricist. (Cf. rationalism.)
epistemology: the branch of philosophy
dealing with questions about the origin and nature
of knowledge*. One of its most fundamental
questions is: "How do we come to know something
that we do not already know?" Since Descartes,
most philosophers have thought one's epistemology
determines one's metaphysics, rather than vice
existence: Tillich's term for the quality
of "standing out" ("ex-sistere"
in Latin) from being-itself. Also Palmquist's
term for the common factor uniting metaphysics
and science through the application of ignorance
and knowledge*, respectively. (Cf. meaning.)
existentialism: the major school of
twentieth century western philosophy inspired
largely by Heidegger and based on the conviction that
discovering the meaning of human existence
is philosophy's main role. This is typically accomplished
by means of analogical reasoning, based on the fundamental
distinction between existing things and being-itself
and/or nothing. (Cf. hermeneutics and linguistic
fallacy: a mistake in the formal*
structure of an argument used to draw a conclusion
based on some evidence. A fallacious argument may
appear to prove something that is not actually true.
Aristotle was the first to give a systematic*
account of the various types of logical* fallacies.
geometry of logic, the: Palmquist's
method of mapping logical relations onto simple
geometrical figures. The simplest analytic*
relations are twofold while the simplest synthetic*
relations as threefold; these are best mapped onto
the endpoints of a line and a triangle, respectively.
See also compound relations and second-level
goodness: according to Plato and many
subsequent philosophers, one of the three aims of
the philosophical quest. It corresponds to
the belly and is powered by appetite.
hermeneutics: the major school of twentieth
century western philosophy inspired largely
by Gadamer and based on the conviction that grasping
the art of meaningful interpretation is philosophy's
main role. This is typically accomplished by reflecting
on the nature of texts-e.g., by focusing on the fundamental
interplay between the author's intentions and the
reader's prejudices. (Cf. existentialism and
idealism: the metaphysical position
inspired largely by Plato and based on the conviction
that the objects* we perceive in the external
world are not ultimately real, but are "shadows"
or appearances of a higher or deeper reality*.
ignorance: the goal of metaphysics,
serving as the door to all good philosophical
thinking. Kant distinguished between necessary (i.e.,
unavoidable) ignorance and empirical* ignorance
that can be transformed into knowledge* once
we recognize that it exists. (Cf. opinion*.)
imagination: the power of the mind
that is typically most active in a person's childhood
and reaches its highest expression in myth.
See also imagination*.
induction: Euclid's synthetic method
of arguing that draws a conclusion based on evidence
collected from experience*. Hume argued that
induction always involves some guesswork, so it can
never suffice to provide absolute certainty that its
conclusion is true. (Cf. deduction.)
insight: the "fruit" of the
tree of philosophy; a creative new thought
that comes to a person suddenly and often unexpectedly,
providing a deeper understanding* of some issue
or a way of answering a previously unanswered question.
Insights often provide a new perspective that
enables us to break through old, traditional ways
of thinking. To be sure they are more than mere opinions*.
we should subject our insights to thorough analysis*.
kingship: Aristotle's term for a political
system* wherein one good person holds
all the power and authority. (Cf. tyranny.)
language-game: Wittgenstein's term
for the different socially-constructed contexts that
give meaning to the way people use words in
specific situations. For example, a word such as "spirit"
will have one meaning and follow one set of rules
if it appears in a religious context, but may take
on a completely new meaning, with different rules,
if it appears in a conversation between two fans at
a sports event.
lateral thinking: de Bono's term for
a way of thinking that runs counter to the ordinary
or accepted ("horizontal") way of thinking
about a given problem or situation . By looking at
a familiar situation from a new perspective,
we can gain interesting new insights about
how best to proceed.
linguistic analysis: the major school
of twentieth century western philosophy inspired
largely by Wittgenstein and based on the conviction
that clarifying concepts* is philosophy's main
role. This is typically accomplished by means of logical*
analysis* of key propositions, or by
showing how most philosophical problems arise out
of a misuse of the way words are used in ordinary
language. (Cf. existentialism and hermeneutics.)
logic: the systematic* study
of the structures that enable words to be understood.
The main question of logic is: "What gives words
and propositions their meaning?" See also
meaning: Palmquist's term for the common
factor uniting logic and ontology through
the processes of understanding* words and silent
wonder, respectively. Frege argued that a proposition
has meaning only if it has both a "sense"
and a "reference". (Cf. existence.)
metaphysics: Aristotle's term for the
area of philosophy that is "after"
or "beyond" physics. Its main question is
"What is ultimate reality*?" Socrates
and Kant both thought the proper outcome of studying
metaphysics is negative: to enable us to recognize
our ignorance. See also metaphysics*.
myth: Eliade's term for a belief*
that is held to be absolutely true. Palmquist's
term for any unquestioned belief that a person holds
with deep conviction. (Cf. science.)
numen/numinous: Otto's terms for the mysterious object*
that causes a religious* experience*
to happen. He argued that a numinous experience typically
involves the same set of five elements, regardless
of one's religious tradition: awe, majesty, urgency,
mystery (or "otherness"), and fascination.
oligarchy: Aristotle's term for a political
system* wherein only "a few" ("oligos"
in Greek) wealthy people hold all the power and authority.
ontology: the study of being, aiming
to promote silent wonder of the mystery of human existence.
One of the four main aspects of philosophy,
investigating the essential nature of various kinds
of human experience*.
paradox: a meaningful contradiction,
used intentionally by philosophers such as Chuang
Tzu and Hegel in order to stimulate insight
into various aspects of transcendent* reality*.
Synthetic logic can also be called the "logic
perspective: Palmquist's term for a
way of thinking about or dealing with an issue or
problem, or a set of assumptions adopted when viewing
an object*. Knowing which perspective is assumed
is important because the same question can have different
answers if different perspectives are assumed. See
philosophy: the Greek term for love
of wisdom. It is a product of human understanding*
whose four main aspects are metaphysics, logic,
science, and ontology. One distinctive
feature of philosophy is that it is self-defining:
it is the only discipline wherein asking the question
"What is this discipline?" is part of the
poetry: a product of passionate human
creativity (or "making") that provides a
cultural link between mythical and philosophical
ways of thinking.
polity: Aristotle's term for a political
system* wherein the middle class holds the
power and authority to govern. In the version called
"timocracy", only landowners are
eligible to vote. (Cf. democracy.)
proposition: a sentence or set of words
that expresses a meaningful content.
rationalism: the approach to philosophy
that regards logic and rational* argument
as the fundamental means of finding philosophical
truth. Rationalists usually tend to mistrust
evidence based solely on the senses*. Descartes
is a typical example of a rationalist. (Cf. empiricism.)
realism: the metaphysical position
inspired largely by Aristotle and based on the conviction
that the objects* we perceive in the external
world are ultimately real.
republic: Plato's term for a political
system* wherein a philosopher serves as king,
who wisely distributes the power and authority
to a trusted body of advisers and representatives.
science: a product of human judgment;
derived from "sciens", Latin for "knowing".
Viewed in this broad sense, it is one of the four
main aspects of philosophy, aiming to determine
the transcendental* boundary between knowledge*
and ignorance in various fields. Viewed more
narrowly, as empirical* or natural science,
it is the discipline that attempts to transcend philosophy
by ignoring all myth, yet paradoxically
ends up creating one of the greatest modern myths.
second-level analytic relation (2LAR): the most widely used term in Palmquist's geometry of logic,
referring to any set of four concepts* that
can be derived by relating two sets of opposites to
each other. A 2LAR is most often mapped onto the four
poles (or the four quadrants) of a cross, though the
corners of a square can also be used.
self-reference, the problem of: a paradox
that arises by applying a certain type of proposition
to itself. For example, "This sentence is false"
makes sense if it refers to some other proposition;
but if it refers to itself, it produces a logically
skepticism: a metaphysical position
that calls into question the human capacity to obtain
knowledge*, expressed in its most influential
form by Hume.
spirit: together with mind and body,
one of the three traditional aspects of human nature.
Kierkegaard regarded the human spirit as the paradoxical
key to both human sinfulness and genuine religious
symbol: Tillich's term for an empirical*
object* that points beyond itself to a transcendent*
object and somehow participates in the reality*
of that more real object.
synthetic logic: the type of logic
based on the laws of nonidentity (A≠A) and contradiction
(A=-A). (Cf. analytic logic.)
synthetic method: see induction.
theocracy: Palmquist's term for a non-political
political system*, wherein the person regards
God as the absolute ruler of the heart, regardless
of which human political system may be operating concurrently.
Following this system requires a person to give up
all rights, but promises to provide absolute freedom
in return. It can be used as a model for the best
kind of human leadership. (Cf. ecclesiocracy.)
timocracy: see polity.
transvaluation: Nietzsche's term for
the radical reinterpretation of traditional morals,
whereby our usual conceptions of good and evil
are negatively assessed as tools for making human
beings mediocre; genuine values must transcend*
good and evil.
truth: according to Plato and many
subsequent philosophers, one of the three aims of
the philosophical quest. It corresponds to
the head and is powered by reason*.
truth table: any of numerous ways of
displaying the truth value of a specific type
of logical* proposition. One of the
functions of truth tables is to help avoid committing
tyranny: Aristotle's term for a political
system* wherein one bad person holds all the
power and authority. (Cf. kingship.)
verification: the principle used by
Ayer and other logical* positivists in the
hope of constructing a philosophy that would
be genuinely scientific. It states that a proposition
should be admitted as true only if it can be
shown to be true by reference to some empirical*
state or situation.
wisdom: the ideal object* of
a philosopher's love ("sophos" means wisdom
in Greek), telling us how to use or apply our knowledge*
most appropriately. According to Socrates, only God
is truly wise; for human beings, wisdom consists in
recognizing our ignorance of genuine wisdom.
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