Sophia on the web
A Resource Guide for Philosophy Students
Created by Jennifer Leslie Torgerson, MA
This page last modified: September† 13, 2015
© copyright, 1997 - present
actuality: the domain of actual facts; what is the case.
agnostic: one who doesn't know, or is not certain, if God exists.
altruism: (LT: alter = another, other) (1) the promotion of the good of others. (2) A selfless and benevolent love for human kind and dedication toward achieving the well-being of people and society.
analytic judgment: an universal and necessary judgment; such judgments cannot be contradicted. Analytical judgments have their predicate concepts contained within their subject concepts. (Cats are mammals)
apperception: self awareness.
apeiron: indefinite, or boundless (infinite).
a posteriori: Latin for that which follows
a posteriori judgment: a contingent judgment that is reliant upon the matters of fact of our experience to be verified as being either true or false. (The cat is on the mat)
appearance/reality distinction: the belief that there is a distinction between the world of appearances (change, time, etc.) and reality (which is unchanging and timeless).
a priori: Latin for that which is prior
a priori judgment: a necessary judgment that is known to be necessarily true without appeal to sense experience. (Cats are mammals)
arche: stuff (material cause or basic stuff).
argument: a group of statements containing at least one premise and one conclusion.
atheistic: arguments against the existence of God, or one who does not believe in the existence of God.
atomos: classical Greek for indivisible.
authentic: (Sartre) living authentically can have many meanings, but for Sartre, it means realizing that existence precedes essence, and one is responsible for oneís actions and choices in the world. One must make oneís self.
Axiology: is the study of value. What is to be valued? (axios = value; logos = the study of)
BEING: The transcendent (noumenal) world of the Absolute, perfect, unchanging Ideal Forms of which The Good is the primary and the source of all the others such as Justice, Temperance, Courage. The world of the Eternal Forms is real, true, permanent world of reason. Abstractions, such as redness, equality, and humanness, that one can conceive and recognize in a variety of things prove that the Forms exist.
BECOMING: the phenomenal world (the world of appearances) composed of things in a state of flux attempting to (but unsuccessfully) emulate (imitate, participate in, partake of) the Ideal Forms. The phenomenal world is the world of our sensuous, ordinary, everyday experiences which are changing and illusory.
categorical imperative: is the necessary and absolute moral law believed to be the ultimate rational foundation for all moral conduct. "So act that you can will the maxim (principle) of your action to be an universal law binding upon the will of every other rational person." Categorical imperatives are absolutely binding.
chorismos: means separation in classical Greek.
coherence theory of truth: true statements fit our web of beliefs.
correspondence theory of truth: true statements correspond (match) reality.
Complex ideas: are compounded out of simple ideas, and the mind is quite capable of imagining complex arrangements of simple ideas that do not in fact correspond to anything in the world, for example an unicorn.
conclusion: a statement that is supported by a premise; that which is being argued for.
consciousness: feelings (immediate) prior to ideas about those feelings (pre-language).
Cosmology: is the study of the cause of the universe. (cosmos = world, universe; logos = the study of)
Dasein: German for being there (Heidegger) of being in the world and it relatedness; features: (1) factuality; (2) existentiality; (3) fallenness (not being authentic- nonunique).
Deductive logic: uses arguments which have conclusions that necessarily follow from the premise (s).
In example: (1) All men are mortal.
(2) Socrates is a human.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
deontological ethics: Duty-based or rule based ethical systems, such as the Golden Rule (do to others as you would have them to do you). An action's worth is determined by whether or not the rule is followed. The rules are intended to be universal laws, applicable to everyone at all times. It is everyone's duty to follow the rules. (deon means duty)
determinism: the theory that every event has a cause.
dualist: one who believes that there is a duality of substances, or that there are two substances in the universe (i.e. material and immaterial substance).
Egoistic hedonism: the doctrine that the pursuit of one's own pleasure is the highest good and the criterion of right action. Bentham revived hedonism with his act utilitarianism in the late 18th century. But that is for the chapter on Utilitarianism.
eminently: degree, or pre-eminent manner (a priori knowledge of causality).
empiricism: the view that all human knowledge is acquired from sense experience (via the 5 senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight) or a posteriori which is Latin for "that which follows after." All knowledge is acquired after sensible experience, or post-experientially.
entelechy: A thing's potential realized. The end toward which one strives to achieve or actualize, which is in all things in nature. It is also the combination of the life force (anima) with the body; which strives to actualize its full potential.
epiphenomenalism: the view that all reality is a product of material causation. All substance is material in nature. The mind is the only exception. Although it is not composed of material, or, its intellect is not material substance, it is a consequent effect of material causation. Mind is not reduced to matter in this view of materialism.
Epistemology: is the study of knowledge. How do we know? (episteme = knowledge; logos = the study of)
Ethics: the study of morality (ethos means customs, manners, morals).
Ethical egoism: (GK: ego = I) The view that (a) each person aims to promote his or her own well-being and interests, and ought to;
(b) the summum bonum (highest good) of life should be to produce the most satisfactions (pleasures, goals, desires, needs) possible for oneself; and (c) one's own success and happiness should be the primary and ultimate worth and from this principle all other values stem. Hobbes referred to ethical egoism as enlightened self-interest.
evil: (1) the privation of goodness; (2) is non-being, or not a being, or nothing (the absence of something, namely good).
†(The Law of the) Excluded Middle: Something either is or it is not. (The middle position is excluded, namely the impossibility of something both being and not being simultaneously.)
existence: making choices (being) [existentialism].
existentialism: opposed to both rationalistic (a priori) and empirical (a posteriori) doctrines, and concludes that the problem of being, not that of epistemology, must take precedence in philosophical investigations. Being cannot be made a subjective or objective enquiry, since being is revealed to the individual by reflection on his own unique concrete existence in time and space. Existence is basic. It is the fact of an individualís presence and participation in a changing and potentially dangerous world. The self of which he is aware is a thinking being, and he understands himself in terms of his experience of himself and his situations.
first cause: (primary) is completely independent in its causality, it is not dependent upon another for its existence.
for itself (pour-soi): human is consciousness, fluid, lack of determinate structure, potent. Alternatives to choice or things are distinguished by their not being something else. [Sartre]
formal: a direct correspondence with what is found in the effect (based on a priori knowledge of causality).
formal falsity: occurs only when there is an error in judgment.
free will: initiating uncaused action. Free choice, will, or volition. God gives us the will to choose the good, but we have the ability to do otherwise. Thus, if we choose evil, instead of good, we are responsible.
hedonism: (GK: hedone = pleasure) the principle that pleasure is the sole and proper aim of human action. The earliest and most extreme version of ethical hedonism was first advocated by the Cyrenaics, (Aristippus being the founder of the school was from Cyrene), 4th cent. BCE) who claimed that the art of living consists in maximizing the enjoyment of each moment through pleasures of the senses and the intellect. In contrast, the Epicureans (Epicurus 341- 270 BCE) laid emphasis on the attainment of enduring pleasures and the avoidance of pain, stressing the role of prudence and discipline in securing the supreme good: peace of mind. Both the Cyrenaic and the Epicureans were egoistic hedonists. [Cyrenaics +, Epicureans -]. Aristippus is to Bentham as Epicurus is to Mill.
hylomorphic composition: the view that everything in the natural world has a two-fold composition of matter (hyle) and form (morphe).
hypothetical imperative: command one to do X only if you wanted Y. This conditional statement is not absolutely binding. Hypothetical means 'optional', or contingent.
Hypothetical Syllogisms: A hypothetical syllogism contains at least one conditional proposition or statement, which takes the form of "if (antecedent) then (consequent)". A rule for pure, valid hypothetical syllogisms is: Any pure hypothetical syllogism is valid in which the first premise and the conclusion have the same antecedent, the second premise and the conclusion have the same consequent, and the consequent of the first premise is the same as the antecedent of the second premise. The pure form is: 1. if P then Q, 2. if Q then R; therefore, if P then R. Two other valid forms of hypothetical syllogisms are Modus Ponens (Latin for "mood that affirms") and Modus Tollens (Latin for "mood that denies").
Ideas: are according to Hume, fainter copies of impressions in imagination.
(Theory of) Ideal Forms: "It is the belief in a transcendent world of eternal and absolute beings, corresponding to every kind of thing that there is, and causing in particular things their essential nature."
idealism: is best defined as the view that all reality is immaterial, or idea.
(The Law of) Identity: Something is what it is.
immanent being: God would be immanent being if His existence is part of all the beings in the universe, as in pantheism, hence, God would be indwelling. The Christian God is distinct from humans, and all others in the universe, and hence is not pantheistic, which means that all is God.
immanent form: the view that form is indwelling in the matter.
Impressions: are according to Hume, sensations or immediate feelings as those of pleasure and pain, what he calls Impressions of Reflection.
indeterminism: the view that every event has a cause, except for the human will. (also called soft determinism)
Inductive logic: uses arguments which have conclusions that go beyond the information contained in the premise (s). It is also called inductive generalization.
In example: (1) The sun rose every day in the past.
(2) The sun rose today.
Therefore, the sun will rise tomorrow. †
(principle of) induction: the behavior of things in the future will be like the behavior of things in the past (most likely).
in itself (en-soi): being an alert object, complete and fixed (unrelatedness within and without) [Sartre]
innate idea: ideas which are inborn, or recollected because they were already in the mind to recollect, even prior to any sense experience, and even prior to birth the ideas were in the mind.
(theory of) innate ideas: The theory that the "fundamental ideas or principles are built right into the mind itself and require only to be developed and brought to maturity." Because Plato held that the source of our knowledge is innate idea, Plato was a rationalist.
Interactionism: (Descartes) The mind and body interact, yet remain separate and distinct from each other by the mysterious function of the pineal gland. (pin-e-al) Substances interact; they oppose each other; they logically and ontologically exclude each other. The can be conceived and exist without each other. It is contradictory to say that thinking occurs but there is nothing doing the thinking. It is contradictory to say that spatial dimension exists but there is nothing that is extended or that has that dimension.
intuition: springs from the light of pure reason alone (nothing can be added to intuition; it is simple)
knowledge as initiated in an experience: Knowledge can only be initiated by an experience (or phenomena) and that the mind is unable to know the real source or ground of experience. Kant's phenomenalism is an example of this type of skepticism. Kant maintained that the best we could do was describe the surface appearance of things (phenomena: the object of perception; that which appears; that which is perceived) because the real nature of things, the way things really are (noumena: according to Kant: that which transcends experience and all rational knowledge; but according to Plato: that which is apprehended by our reason alone, without any involvement of our senses, intuition, or other levels of apprehension; Plato was not a skeptic) is not accessible to us.
Logic: is the study of arguments and argument forms. (logos = argument, word)
material falsity: occurs when ideas represent non-things.
materialism: the view that all substance is material in nature; the view that all of reality is material.
mean: a type of average; the result of a sum of a group of numbers being divided by the number of members in the group.
mechanism: the view that reality is matter in motion. Typically, matter is seen as bits, called atoms, and there is space (void) to facilitate the motion of the atoms.
median: a type of average; in a group of numbers, there are as many numbers in the group that are larger as are smaller than the median.
Metaphysics: is the study of reality. What is real? (meta = beyond, after; physis = nature)
metaphysical dualism: is the belief in two separate, distinct substances. Descartes believed that humans had a two-fold composition, those of soul substance (or mind) and body substance.
mode: a type of average; in a group of numbers, the mode is the number that occurs most frequently.
Monad means unity or unit, and Leibniz argued in Monadology that only units can be substances.
monist: one who believes that there is one kind of basic stuff or substance to the universe, from which everything is composed.
monotheism: the view that there is only one God
moral evil: evil that results from personal depravity. (murder, torture, evils caused by man upon another man)
natural evil: evil that results from natural causes (disease, deformity, natural disasters, etc.)
naturalistic fallacy: The mistake (which is not universally agreed always is a mistake) of deducing conclusions about what ought to be from premises that state only what is the case; or the other way about. Moore was first to name the fallacy, but now everyone refers to a much better and characteristically ironic statement in Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature:
"In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning [...] when of a sudden I am supriz'd to find , that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is connected with an ought or an ought not. This change is imperceptible, but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it should be observe'd and explain'd: and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it."
(III(i) 1). The insistence that the naturalistic fallacy is indeed a fallacy is called Hume's law.
natural law: The rationally knowable morality which is founded in God's will for His creatures. Moral law is not innate, but deduced from experience according to Aquinas and Locke.
necessary condition: this is a necessary condition for that if and only if that cannot be without this. (i.e. Oxygen is a necessary for fire).
necessary truth: a proposition is said to be necessarily true if and only if the denial of that proposition would involve a self-contradiction.
nihilism: The extreme stand that human beings can never really attain certain or reliable knowledge about anything. Gorgias, another sophist (c. 525 BCE) held that nothing exists because there is no such thing as true knowledge. (nihil means nothing in Latin)
nominalism: (from Latin nomen, nominalis = name) the theory that things do not have essences, or that universals do not have an existence. Definitions, and languages in general, do not refer to things but deal with the names (terms) we attach to things. Therefore forms would have no external existence, but are merely names by which we group things with similar features. [Ockham: "Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity" or Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. Also known as the principle of ontological economy. These actual words are not found in the extent works of William of Ockham (c. 1285 - 1349), an English Franciscan and anti-realist.]
(The Law of) Non-Contradiction: Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect. Remember Parmenides' phrasing of the law of non-contradiction? ("What is and cannot not be; and what is not and can not be.").
noumena: that which transcends appearance
objective idealism: Objective idealism is the view that all reality is composed of ideas, and these ideas exist independently of any mind. An example of this type of metaphysical theory of objective idealism is that of Plato's theories of Being and Becoming and the Ideal Forms. Plato held that the material, phenomenal world (the world of appearances) is in a state of flux attempting to emulate (unsuccessfully) the Ideal Forms (the noumenal world of reality). The Forms exist independently of the consciousness. The noumenal world is the true permanent world of reality. The Forms, which are ideas, are not in any mind, not human nor God's, but exist independently of any subjective viewpoint.
ontology: the study of being as being.
ousia: the this; what a thing is; whatness, what it was to be; substance BUT best called essence (fem. past part. of ti en einai [to be, in classical Greek], in the imperative).
panentheism: the view that God is in all things.
pantheism: the view that all is God
particular: individual things are particulars.
perception: awareness of the objects of our experience.
phenomena: that which appears
phenomenalism: Phenomena is that which appears. The phenomenalist says that substance and causality are no more than bundles of perception. Therefore there is no rational knowledge beyond what is disclosed by the phenomena of perceptions. Mind is no more than a bundle of perceptions.
phenomenology: (Husserl) Begins with a precise inspection of oneís own consciousness, and particularly intellectual, processes. In this introspection all assumptions about the wider and external causes and consequences of these internal processes have to be excluded or bracketed. Husserl insisted that this was an a priori investigation of the essences or meanings common to the thoughts of different minds.
Philosophy: is the love of wisdom. (philo = love; sophia = widsom)
pleasure principle: (What Bentham called the principle of utility) an action is right if and only if the action produces a greater balance of pleasure over pain, or at least as much pleasure as pain, than any other action the agent could have performed. Pleasure is the principle of right action.
pluralist: one who believes that there is more than one basic stuff, or many substances in the universe, from which everything is composed.
polytheism: the view that there are many gods
potency: means the source of movement or change, which is in another thing than the thing moved. (also potentiality- in contrast to actuality- the domain of actual facts, or the achievement of a things' full potential.)
pragmatic theory of truth: true statements have "cash value" or work.
predication: the attribution of a property to a subject.
pre-established harmony: This solution, to the mind-body problem, was proposed by the German philosopher, Leibniz and is also called parallelism (or parallel functioning). Leibniz wrote Monadology and Discourse on Metaphysics (to name only 2). Mind and body do not interact. God has established an harmony between mind and body. Mental states and bodily states correspond at every moment due to this preestablished harmony.
premise: a statement that provides reasons, grounds, or supports the conclusion to follow.
prima facie: (LT: at first sight) Prima facie evidence is such that, if not latter contradicted or in some way explained, is sufficient to sustain one's claim.
primary qualities: are about the primary qualities of an object, and are about qualities of matter such as form, extension, motion, number, and so on. Therefore, primary qualities are objective in nature.
privation: if something has not one of the attributes which a thing might naturally have, even if this thing itself would not naturally have it; e.g. a plant is said to be 'deprived' of eyes.
psychological egoism: (1) the thesis that all individuals do in fact seek their own interests at all times. There is no purely unselfish act. (2) The theory that all human actions are consciously or unconsciously motivated by a desire for one's own well-being and satisfactions; it only appears that one acts for the benefit of others.
rationalism: the view that all human knowledge is acquired through reason as the primary source, prior (or a priori which is Latin for "that which precedes") and superior to sense experience.
realism: the theory that universals such as Forms, must exist only within the objects in the external world, as opposed to the realm of Ideas or Forms. [Aristotle]
(Theory of) Recollection: Plato suggests that we are already born in possession of knowledge of which we are not conscious of but will readily recollect (recollectus in Latin) if carefully prompted.
relativism: in the Protagorean sense, relativism is a theory about the relativity of knowledge and the relativity of sense perception. Often referred to as homo mensura (man is the measure in Latin). Therefore it would be erroneous to say that one person is right (has the truth) and another person is wrong (does not have the truth) about sense perception. Truth does not exist independently of a perceiver and his assertion that something is true.
second cause: (secondary) is a cause which is dependent of another. The finite cause needs God to support and sustain its existence.
secondary qualities: are about the qualities of an object such as color, tastes, sound, odors, and the like. These secondary qualities are not in the material substance; they are in the mind or they are the way in which the object affects the mind or the knower, and they vary from person to person. Therefore, secondary qualities are subjective in nature.
Simple ideas: have no other ideas contained within them, and like atoms cannot be created nor destroyed; and are ideas such as yellow, hot, sweet.
skepticism: the view that all knowledge is beyond reasonable proof. Skepticism ranges from a complete doubt of everything, to a tentative doubt in a process of reaching certainty.
social contract: The agreement of a group of people to establish social organizations and regulations for the preservation of basic freedoms and rights.
Socratic or Dialectic Method: The crux of the dialectic method is that the teacher should through patient questioning bring the pupil to some true conclusion, without the teacher's telling the pupil that the conclusion is true. Note how Socrates demonstrates to Euthyphro that he is not certain what impiety is, but this still does not deter Euthyphro from prosecuting his own father for impiety. Is it good because it is loved by the gods, or is it good because the gods love it? But Socrates demonstrates that to be truly good, a thing must be good in and of itself. It is for this reason, its goodness, that the gods love it, they do not make it good by their mere love of the thing. But hasn't Euthyphro committed an act of impiety by prosecuting his father without proper knowledge of what piety means? There is real danger to being mistaken. Socrates is so skeptical of the world, in order that he might not be mistaken in his knowledge about the world.
soft determinism: (or indeterminism) the theory that some events do not have a cause, or are free (undetermined).
solipsism: the theory that one can know (a) that one exists and (b) that one is having certain ideas. All else is subject to denial or to suspension of judgment. (solus means alone in Latin)
state of nature: The human condition of natural freedoms and rights prior to the imposition of social organization and regulation (or social contract). It is a state, therefore, that may be thought of as either an alleged historical fact, or an hypothetical claim about what would be or would have been the case, given certain conditions that may or may not have occurred.
substance (simple essence): [substantia in Latin: that which underlies, or upholds something] according to Descartes- Substance is that which can be conceived alone by itself without needing something else in terms of which it is known, and without depending on something else for its existence; a thing which can exist independently (i.e. a stone, me). This would effectively leave only one true substance, God substance.
subjective ethics: The theory that ethical judgments such as "good" means "I approve" of certain actions. Moral values are based on feelings, thoughts, and desires which have no objective reference in the world.
subjective idealism: The view that reality is our experience of things. "To be is to be perceived" (Esse est percipi) according to Bishop George Berkeley (1685- 1753), an Irish philosopher of Irish descent. Berkeley wrote several works, but the most important is Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713), which was his third work completed when he was 28. Berkeley meant by esse est percipi that nothing but minds and ideas exist. To say that an idea exists means, according to him, that it is being perceived by some mind. For ideas, Esse est percipi: to be is to be perceived. Mind themselves, however, are not similarly dependent for their existence on being perceived. Minds are perceivers. To give Berkeley's full meaning we must say: To be is to be perceived (ideas) or to be a perceiver. All that is real is a conscious mind or some perception or idea held by such a mind. How, Berkeley asks, could we speak of anything that was other than an idea or mind? The mind exists as it is thought in the mind of God. Berkeley was also known for holding the position that there is no material substance, hence Berkeley is also, and prefers to be, called an immaterialist.
sufficient condition: this is a sufficient condition for that if and only if this by itself is enough to guarantee that. (i.e. five nickels are sufficient for twenty-five cents).
(The principle of) sufficient reason is: that for every fact (or reason) there is a reason why it is so and not otherwise.
suspension of judgment: All assumptions or conclusions are questioned until they pass the test of critical analysis. Socrates practiced this type of skepticism by insisting that we answer our own questions.
synthetic judgment: a contingent judgment; such judgments can be contradicted. Synthetical judgments have predicates which contain information which goes beyond the information contained in the subject concept. (The cat is on the mat)
tabula rasa: (Latin for clean tablet) Called blank slate, or white paper (by Locke), it is the condition of the mind at birth, prior to sense experience.
tacit consent: The consent and support of social organizations and regulations by virtue of an individual's continued participation in them.
telos: end (result) or purpose in classical Greek.
teleological ethics: End-based ethical systems or what is called consequentialism. An action's worth is determined by the consequences. (telos means end)
teleology: the study (of the cause) of the end or purpose of the universe
theistic: arguments for the existence of God, or one who believes in God (through faith, or reason)
traditional liberalism: The traditional notion of liberalism has been challenged in this century, and new meanings have been applied to it. The result is that the term today is ambiguous, and everyone applying the label must specify exactly what they mean. Traditional liberalism gives primacy to the individual and his rights, where prior primacy was given to the state.
transcendental: According to theists, God exists beyond and independent of the world, or is beyond experience.
transcendental idealism: the view that reality is idea, but the true reality (things in themselves) transcends the world of appearance
truths of fact: Truths of fact are contingent and truths of reason are necessary. Truths of fact are statements that are not necessarily true since they may be denied without contradiction, they just might be true of something about something in this world, or might be true of something in a particular possible world. Statements that are only true about some objects in the universe and not true of all objects in the universe.
truths of reason: Truths of reason are not true by definition. They are true everywhere, in every possible world, and to the externally real world they do apply descriptively. No power, not even Godís can change these truths. An example is the law of noncontradiction, etc.
universal: the property predicated of all the individuals of a certain sort or class.
†(principle of) universal causation: every event has a cause.
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__________,† A History of Western Philosophy:† The Medieval Mind, 2nd Edition.† (San Diego, CA:† Harcourt Brace, 1980 ).
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