Schools of Philosophy

Schools of Philosophy

As we all know, philosophy is a study of fundamental and general issues, related to reality, existence, values, reason, mind, language and knowledge, always based on rational argument. Originating from the Greek word meaning “love for wisdom”, philosophy is divided into several sub-fields such as epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics. There were several Schools of Philosophy that have developed to study and fathom these fields and for a better understanding of their object of study, here is a list with the top 10 Schools of Philosophy.

Schools of Philosophy Existentialism

Be that self which one truly is. - Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Existentialism supports the philosophical idea that the individual creates his/her own meaning and essence of life. Human beings make their own choices in life and pursuit the meaning that makes most sense to them, with or without including a supreme God. Walter Kaufmann stated : “The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs whatever, and especially of systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic, and remote from life”. Existentialism supporters range from religious (Kierkegaard) to anti-religious (Nietzsche).

Schools of Philosophy Nihilism

Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself. - Philip Larkin (1922-1985) Nihilism is a philosophic form suggesting that life in itself is lacking an objective meaning, value and truth. The idea of a higher or supernatural creator is rejected and there is a strong association with pessimism, depression and immorality, which are understood as valid, since life is meaningless. Dadaism, Futurism and Surrealism are strongly related to nihilism.

Schools of Philosophy Secular Humanism

There is not sufficient love and goodness in the world to permit us to give some of it away to imaginary beings. - Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) Secular Humanism states that reason, ethics and justices are the main principles in life, declining the idea of a supernatural creator. The meaning of life according to this philosophy is also strictly related to the human condition, and promotes the idea that truth, meaning and morality are specific and unique to each person, rejecting the concept of universal or absolute truth. Friedrich Nietzsche, Betrand Russel and Richard Dawkins are important figures associated with secular humanism.

Schools of Philosophy Objectivism

Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice – and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man – by choice; he has to hold his life as a value — by choice; he has to learn to sustain it – by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues – by choice. - Ayn Rand (1905-1982) Objectivism was developed by Ayn Rand in the 20th century, comprising versions on metaphysics, epistemology, ethnics, politics and aesthetics. Objectivism states that there is a mind-independent reality that individuals are in contact with strictly through sensory perceptions. It also implies that a supreme meaning of life is the achieve personal happiness or “rational self-interest”, the only social implications related to this morality being the full respect for the other individuals.

Schools of Philosophy Absurdism

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. - Albert Camus (1913-1960) Absurdism, as the name of this form of philosophy states, claims that all the efforts of the human kind to find the meaning of the universe are absurd, ridiculous and will eventually end up in failure, as there is no such meaning. Or, if there may be such a meaning, pursuing it is futile. Soren Kierkagaard was the one who wrote extensively on absurdism in the middle of the 19th century, but the philosophy form is most associated with Albert Camus, especially with his novels, such as The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus.

Schools of Philosophy Positivism

The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. - Thomas H. Huxley (1825-1895) Positivism states that the only real knowledge is scientific, and it can only be obtained from positive affirmation of theories through strict and accurate scientific methods. Firstly theorized by Auguste Comte in the 19th century, positivism is associated with empiricism and rationalism, being of course preferred by technocrats and scientists.

Schools of Philosophy Epicureanism

Associated with the Greek philosopher, Epicurus’s ideas associated with hedonism, epicureanism puts the concept of superstition and divinity aside, focusing on the meaning of life based on self-pleasure, including the absence of pain and fear, the only possible result and purpose being absolute happiness. Epicurus’ philosophy aimed at pleasure resulting from knowledge, friendship and virtue, all combined of course, with sexual activities and good food.

Schools of Philosophy Utilitarianism

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied, than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. - John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) Utilitarianism is an ethical doctrine that refers to the fact that the moral value of an action is solely determined by its outcome, more easily said, the end justifies the means. This philosophy was first theorized by Jeremy Bentham, but it is mostly associated with Stuart Mill and his book Utilitarianism, published in 1963.

Schools of Philosophy Determinism

Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper. - Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Determinism refers to the fact that every event, including human cognition and behaviour, decision and action is determined by a fluent and constant chain of prior events. This philosophical theory promotes a single possible future, but still accepts the concept of free will of the individual. There are several forms of determinism, such as theological determinism which refers to a supreme God or Gods deciding the faith of the humans or environmental determinism which suggests that the human faith and future is strictly determined by environment, climate and geography.

Schools of Philosophy Solipsism

Nothing exists; Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it; Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can’t be communicated to others. Gorgias (485-375 BC) Often associated with nihilism and materialism, solipsism places emphasis on a subjective reality, according to which what may be true for one person, may not be true for another. One can only know that one’s self exists, but anything outside the mind, like the external world cannot be known to exist. Solipsism was the first theory of Gorgias, and Plato and Descartes expounded upon it later on.



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