Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, values, reason and language. Such questions are posed as problems to be studied or resolved; the term was coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will? "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy and physics. For example, Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy became classified as a book of physics. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize.
In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology and economics. Other investigations related to art, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective? Are there many scientific methods or just one? Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy? Major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of science. Traditionally, the term "philosophy" referred to any body of knowledge. In this sense, philosophy is related to religion, natural science and politics. Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy is classified in the 2000s as a book of physics. In the first part of the first book of his Academics, Cicero introduced the division of philosophy into logic and ethics. Metaphysical philosophy was the study of existence, God, logic and other abstract objects; this division has changed.
Natural philosophy has split into the various natural sciences astronomy, chemistry and cosmology. Moral philosophy still includes value theory. Metaphysical philosophy has birthed formal sciences such as logic and philosophy of science, but still includes epistemology and others. Many philosophical debates that began in ancient times are still debated today. Colin McGinn and others claim. Chalmers and others, by contrast, see progress in philosophy similar to that in science, while Talbot Brewer argued that "progress" is the wrong standard by which to judge philosophical activity. In one general sense, philosophy is associated with wisdom, intellectual culture and a search for knowledge. In that sense, all cultures and literate societies ask philosophical questions such as "how are we to live" and "what is the nature of reality". A broad and impartial conception of philosophy finds a reasoned inquiry into such matters as reality and life in all world civilizations. Western philosophy is the philosophical tradition of the Western world and dates to Pre-Socratic thinkers who were active in Ancient Greece in the 6th century BCE such as Thales and Pythagoras who practiced a "love of wisdom" and were termed physiologoi.
Socrates was a influential philosopher, who insisted that he possessed no wisdom but was a pursuer of wisdom. Western philosophy can be divided into three eras: Ancient, Medieval philosophy, Modern philosophy; the Ancient era was dominated by Greek philosophical schools which arose out of the various pupils of Socrates, such as Plato, who founded the Platonic Academy and his student Aristotle, founding the Peripatetic school, who were both influential in Western tradition. Other traditions include Cynicism, Greek Skepticism and Epicureanism. Important topics covered by the Greeks included metaphysics, the nature of the well-lived life, the possibility of knowledge and the nature of reason. With the rise of the Roman empire, Greek philosophy was increasingly discussed in Latin by Romans such as Cicero and Seneca. Medieval philosophy is the period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and was dominated by the ris
Occam's razor is the problem-solving principle that states that "simpler solutions are more to be correct than complex ones." When presented with competing hypotheses to solve a problem, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions. The idea is attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham, a scholastic philosopher and theologian. In science, Occam's razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam's razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an large even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable; the term Occam's razor did not appear until a few centuries after William of Ockham's death in 1347.
Libert Froidmont, in his On Christian Philosophy of the Soul, takes credit for the phrase, speaking of "novacula occami". Ockham did not invent this principle, but the "razor"—and its association with him—may be due to the frequency and effectiveness with which he used it. Ockham stated the principle in various ways, but the most popular version, "Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity" was formulated by the Irish Franciscan philosopher John Punch in his 1639 commentary on the works of Duns Scotus; the origins of what has come to be known as Occam's razor are traceable to the works of earlier philosophers such as John Duns Scotus, Robert Grosseteste and Aristotle. Aristotle writes in his Posterior Analytics, "We may assume the superiority ceteris paribus of the demonstration which derives from fewer postulates or hypotheses." Ptolemy stated, "We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible."Phrases such as "It is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer" and "A plurality is not to be posited without necessity" were commonplace in 13th-century scholastic writing.
Robert Grosseteste, in Commentary on the Posterior Analytics Books, declares: "That is better and more valuable which requires fewer, other circumstances being equal... For if one thing were demonstrated from many and another thing from fewer known premises, better, from fewer because it makes us know just as a universal demonstration is better than particular because it produces knowledge from fewer premises. In natural science, in moral science, in metaphysics the best is that which needs no premises and the better that which needs the fewer, other circumstances being equal."The Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas states that "it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many." Aquinas uses this principle to construct an objection to God's existence, an objection that he in turn answers and refutes and through an argument based on causality. Hence, Aquinas acknowledges the principle that today is known as Occam's razor, but prefers causal explanations to other simple explanations.
William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and theologian, an influential medieval philosopher and a nominalist. His popular fame as a great logician rests chiefly on the maxim attributed to him and known as Occam's razor; the term razor refers to distinguishing between two hypotheses either by "shaving away" unnecessary assumptions or cutting apart two similar conclusions. While it has been claimed that Occam's razor is not found in any of William's writings, one can cite statements such as Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate, which occurs in his theological work on the Sentences of Peter Lombard; the precise words sometimes attributed to William of Ockham, Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, are absent in his extant works. William of Ockham's contribution seems to restrict the operation of this principle in matters pertaining to miracles and God's power; this principle is sometimes phrased as Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate. In his Summa Totius Logicae, i.
12, William of Ockham cites the principle of economy, Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora To quote Isaac Newton, "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same cause
Rule of thumb
The English phrase rule of thumb refers to a principle with broad application, not intended to be accurate or reliable for every situation. It refers to an learned and applied procedure or standard, based on practical experience rather than theory; this usage of the phrase can be traced back to the seventeenth century, has been associated with various trades where quantities were measured by comparison to the width or length of a thumb. A modern folk etymology holds that the phrase derives from the maximum width of a stick allowed for wife-beating under English law; the rumor produced satirical cartoons at Buller's expense. The English jurist Sir William Blackstone wrote in his Commentaries on the Laws of England of an "old law" that once allowed "moderate" beatings by husbands, but did not mention thumbs or any specific implements. While wife beating has been outlawed for centuries in England and the United States, it continued in practice; the exact phrase rule of thumb first became associated with domestic abuse in the 1970s, after which the spurious legal definition was cited as factual in a number of law journals, the U.
S. Commission on Civil Rights published a report on domestic abuse titled "Under the Rule of Thumb" in 1982. In English, rule of thumb refers to an approximate method for doing something, based on practical experience rather than theory; the exact origin of the phrase is uncertain. Its earliest appearance in print comes from a posthumously published collection of sermons by Scottish preacher James Durham: "Many profest Christians are like to foolish builders, who build by guess, by rule of thumb, not by Square and Rule"; the phrase is found in Sir William Hope's The Compleat Fencing Master, 1692: "What he doth, he doth by rule of Thumb, not by Art". James Kelly's The Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs, 1721, includes: "No Rule so good as Rule of Thumb, if it hit", meaning a practical approximation; the width of the thumb, or "thumb's breadth", was used as the equivalent of an inch in the cloth trade. The thumb has been used in brewing beer, to gauge the heat of the brewing vat. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer writes that rule of thumb means a "rough measurement".
He says that "Ladies measure yard lengths by their thumb. Indeed, the expression'sixteen nails make a yard' seems to point to the thumb-nail as a standard" and that "Countrymen always measure by their thumb". According to Phrasefinder, "The phrase joins the whole nine yards as one that derives from some form of measurement but, unlikely to be definitively pinned down". A modern folk etymology relates the phrase to domestic violence via an alleged rule under English law that allowed for wife beating provided the implement used was a rod or stick no thicker than a man's thumb. While wife beating has been outlawed in England for centuries, enforcement of the law was inconsistent, wife beating did continue. However, such a rule of thumb was never codified in law. English jurist William Blackstone wrote in the late 1700s in his Commentaries on the Laws of England that by an "old law", a husband had been justified in using "moderate correction" against his wife, but was barred from inflicting serious violence.
According to Blackstone, by the late 1600s this custom was in doubt, a woman was by allowed "security of the peace" against an abusive husband. Citing Blackstone, the twentieth-century legal scholar William L. Prosser wrote that there was "probably no truth to the legend" that a husband was allowed to beat his wife "with a stick no thicker than his thumb"; the association between the thumb and implements of domestic violence can be traced to the year 1782, when the English judge Sir Francis Buller was ridiculed for purportedly stating that a husband could beat his wife, provided he used a stick no wider than his thumb. There is no record of Buller making such a statement. In the following century, several court rulings in the United States referred to a supposed common-law doctrine that the judges believed had once allowed wife beating with an implement smaller than a thumb. None of these courts endorsed such a rule. However, all allowed for some degree of wife beating so long. An 1824 court ruling in Mississippi stated that a man was entitled to enforce "domestic discipline" by striking his wife with a whip or stick no wider than the judge's thumb.
In a case in North Carolina, the defendant was found to have struck his wife "with a switch about the size of this fingers". The judgement was upheld by the state supreme court, although the judge stated: Nor is it true that a husband has a right to whip his wife, and if he had, it is not seen how the thumb is the standard of size for the instrument which he may use, as some of the old authorities have said The standard is the effect produced, not the manner of produ