What is philosophy?

Philosophy concerns some of the biggest questions that have ever been asked, questions like What is the right way to live?, What do we really know?, Is there a God?, and Do we have free will?.  Philosophers don’t ask these questions as mere idle curiosities.  We try to formulate clear answers to them, and to evaluate whether our answers are true by considering the arguments on both sides.

There are many subfields within philosophy, but some of the most prominent include:

  • Ethics:  What is right way to live?  What are our moral obligations to other people?
  • Epistemology:  What do we know, and what do we merely believe?  Do we really know anything?  Is it rational to hold beliefs without strong evidence that they are true, and that the opposing views held by others are false?
  • Political philosophy:  How should society be organized?  Is it fair for some people to have so much while others have so little?
  • Philosophy of law:  What is the purpose of the law?  Should we legislate morality?  When is it appropriate to punish people for their actions, and why?
  • Metaphysics:  Is there a God?  Do we have free will?  What is the fundamental nature of reality?
  • Philosophy of Science:  Does science represent the world objectively in a way that non-scientific ways of understanding the world do not?  What is the scientific method, and how does it work?
  • Philosophy of Mind:  Do you have an immaterial soul?  Is it possible to survive the death of your body and brain?  What is the mind, and what is its relationship to the body and brain?