What is Philosophy? A Simple Breakdown for Dummies

The question of “what is philosophy” has become relatively popular over the last few years due to the current state of the world we live in, and while this may seem like a bad thing, it is actually rather positive. 

Philosophy can help us in so many ways, and in spite of what you may have heard, it is not difficult to delve into.  

In this article, we will explain the meaning of philosophy and tell you why it is important in an easy-to-understand manner, as well as going through some of the most popular philosophies in case there are any that peak your interest.  

What is Philosophy? 

To tell you the truth, there is no easy answer to “what does philosophy mean”.  

Sure, we could give you the actual definition (the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline, or a particular system of philosophical thought), but this will give you little insight into what philosophy is at its core.  

The better way to explain philosophy would be to call it the study of how we should live life.

At their core, every philosophy is just a theory of how we should view the world and live our lives. 

Many people miss the entire point of philosophy, thinking it to be some abstract discipline that has no real use except for acting as a way to sound “deep” or “connected”. 

No, philosophy is something that was once used by everyday people to cope with the horrors of living in ancient times, and it can be used to improve your life even today.  

Why Philosophy Can Help Us Lead Better Lives  

While philosophy may be an educational discipline, it can also be used in the real world to help us deal with challenges and overcome obstacles.  

In fact, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), a form of therapy that is used to treat people with anxiety and depression, is actually based on stoicism – one of the philosophies we are going to talk about today.  

As another example, studies on Buddhist monks have shown that long-time practitioners actually have different brains when compared to normal people.  

Buddhist monks have smaller amygdalas, the part of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety, and more grey matter, which is responsible for awareness and memory. 

These benefits are mostly due to meditation, but it’s reasonable to assume that their beliefs in accepting one’s fate have played a part in changing their brains.  

This shows that philosophy has the potential to be life-changing, and learning about it can help you lead a better life.  

Of course, that’s not to say this is the case with all philosophies.

Some philosophies can be quite negative, but all of them can also have a net positive effect by allowing us to understand the world in a way that makes sense.  

What Philosophies Are Out There?  

As you may suspect, there are many different ideas and perspectives on how we should lead our lives.  

There are thousands of philosophies, with only a few managing to gain any sort of notoriety.  

Without giving you the “what is philosophy essay”, we will go through a few of the most popular philosophies.  

Knowing a range of philosophies is important for three reasons; it can help you decide which philosophy suits you the best, it can allow you to pick your favourite ideas out of the bunch and put them together to create your philosophy, and it can also help you understand other people much better.  

This means that it might be a good idea to take a quick glance into other philosophies even if you have no interest in them.  

Here are a few of the most popular philosophies.  

  • Stoicism  

Stoicism is a philosophy that originated in ancient Greece, and it emphasises the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions and behaviours. 

Stoics believe that one should focus on the things within their control, rather than being preoccupied with external events or circumstances that are outside of their control.  

This even applies to death – something which is a central theme in stoic philosophy. 

There’s also no such thing as good or bad in stoic philosophy (apart from within our own actions). 

This means that the main focus of stoicism is accepting anything and everything in life; but it’s more than that – it’s trying to appreciate even the “bad” moments.  

On top of this, stoics also say that the meaning of life is to live in accordance with nature, which for humans is to live in peace and help other people.  

There is so much more to stoicism than just this, and in all reality, it is hard to accurately portray just how powerful this philosophy is.

This is the philosophy that we always recommend to people that are looking to improve their lives or become stronger people.  

  • Existentialism 

Existentialism is a philosophical and literary movement that emerged in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly in France, and it emphasises individual freedom, choice, authenticity, and the search for meaning and purpose in life. 

This philosophy is characterised by a focus on human existence and the human condition, including questions about the nature of existence, the meaning of life, and the search for identity and purpose.  

Existentialists believe that individuals are free to make choices and must take responsibility for the consequences of those choices, rather than relying on external authorities or social norms to dictate their lives.

Existentialists also often explore the limits of human understanding and the ways in which language and society shape our perception of reality. 

While existentialism does have the potential to be incredibly freeing, it can also lead people into somewhat of an existential crisis due to the fact that this philosophy does not offer any answers to the meaning of life.  

This is not an inherent flaw – it is a central theme of the entire philosophy.  

Instead of giving people an answer to existential questions, existentialism invites people to explore meaning for themselves and to find their own purpose.  

  • Buddhism 

Buddhist philosophy is a system of beliefs and practices that originated in ancient India and is based on the teachings of the Buddha, who lived and taught in India over 2,500 years ago.  

Buddhism emphasises the importance of individual spiritual development and the attainment of enlightenment or awakening through meditation and ethical behaviour. 

At the core of Buddhist philosophy is the Four Noble Truths.  

These state that suffering exists in the world, that suffering arises from craving and attachment, that it is possible to end suffering by letting go of craving and attachment, and that the path to the end of suffering is the Eightfold Path. 

The Eightfold Path consists of the right understanding, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. 

Buddhism also emphasises the idea of impermanence, which means that all things are constantly changing and nothing is permanent.  

Another key concept in Buddhist philosophy is the idea of karma, which states that actions have consequences and that individuals are responsible for their actions. 

Meditation also plays an integral role in Buddhism, as it allows Buddhists to quiet their minds and stay in the present.  

  • Nihilism 

Nihilism is a philosophical viewpoint that rejects or denies the existence of inherent meaning and values in life.

The word “nihilism” comes from the Latin word “nihil,” which means “nothing.” 

Nihilists believe that life has no inherent purpose or meaning and that all values are baseless and arbitrary. 

There are several different forms of nihilism, including moral nihilism, which denies the existence of any moral values or principles, and existential nihilism, which holds that life has no intrinsic meaning or purpose.  

Nihilism can also be associated with the rejection of traditional religious or philosophical beliefs. 

While nihilism can give a sense of freedom, it can be a dangerous and destructive philosophy that can lead to apathy, despair, and nihilistic behaviour.  

It is also becoming increasingly popular among young men who are looking to escape the harsh responsibilities in life.  

Nihilism is a complex and controversial philosophy that challenges many of our basic assumptions about the meaning and value of life, and if you decide to dive into it, make sure you do not make the same mistake as many others and use nihilism as a way to avoid your responsibilities.  

What is Philosophy – FAQs

Why is Philosophy Important?

Philosophy is important because it can make us happier, more understanding people.

By having a clearer view of the world and its people, we can relate to one another more and live better lives.

What is meant by Philosophy?

Philosophy covers a wide range of different ideas and beliefs about how we should best live our lives.

When used in an argument or debate, philosophy is usually used to support or attack anothers arguments.

What Does Philosophical Mean?

Philosophical is a term that is used to describe someone who is devoted to the study of philosophy, or when someone displays a calm attitude when facing adversity.

What Does Philosophy Do?

Philosophy can give us a better understanding of the world and can make us less stressed, happier, and more satisfied with life.

What is The Simple Definition of Philosophy?

The simple definition of philosophy is that it is the study of life.

Philosophy focuses on the big questions such as why we are here, and it also gives us a path to lead better lives.

We hope this article will be of use to you. This piece of content was originally created to combat the surge of questions like “what is philosophy easy definition” and “what is meant by philosophy”.  

Philosophy is just a tool that can allow everyday people to improve their lives, and while its reputation may have been tarnished by people who use it to show off their intellect (this is not true philosophy), it should play a vital role in everyone’s life.  

If you feel like something is missing in your life or you are just not satisfied with where you are right now, philosophy is the solution to your problem.  

All of the answers are inside of you, not outside.  

If you would like to find out more about philosophy or are just interested in making your life better in general, feel free to check out the rest of the content we have on MovingForwards

See you next time.  

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