Branches of Philosophy in the West and in the East

Branches of PhilosophyThe word “philosophy” actually translates to “love of wisdom,” making it an attractive field for individuals who wish to learn all that there is to know about existence, relationships between people, and the world that surrounds them and gives them life. Students of philosophy make it a point to ask questions, right down to the most basic inquiries about reality and the human condition. Then they seek to find answers to those questions and debate what they feel is the truth in the matter.

Those who are interested in philosophy may choose to study a particular culture’s philosophical teachings. For example, if you are someone who is very much interested in the culture of ancient Greece, you may find that taking this ancient Greece philosophy course, which focuses on the philosophy of that time, is an invaluable learning experience. No matter what culture’s philosophy you choose to study, however, you are sure to find compelling answers to some of your questions about life. And popular philosophies that have stood the test of time are sure to get you thinking even more deeply about how you feel about existence and society on a whole. 

Western versus Eastern Philosophy

Philosophy can be broken down into a variety of branches and categories because it is such a broad field and because so many great thinkers have contributed to it since ancient times. And philosophy can also be broken down into Eastern and Western philosophy.

Western philosophy was developed by cultures that include the ancient Greeks, as well as European and American philosophers in later centuries. It bases its arguments largely on logic and reasoning, and it tries to break an idea down into its parts to make it easier to analyze rather than focusing on the whole. Ideas also tend to be categorized in Western philosophy to make them easier to understand.

Eastern philosophy comes from cultures throughout Asia. Although it contains many of the same branches that Western philosophy has, it focuses more on the whole rather than its parts, making it quite different. Also, instead of using categories to break down ideas, it seeks to unify various ideas and prove that they all lead to the same conclusions or truths. In other words, while Western philosophy tends to focus more on the differences between various ways of thinking and viewing the world, Eastern philosophy’s goal is to find similarities and prove that everything is connected to the same root beliefs in the end. To learn a bit more about Eastern philosophy, take this course on Tai Chi.

The Main Branches of Western Philosophy

Western philosophy can be divided into five main branches, which are listed below. Once you understand the many branches of philosophy, consider reading this blog post, which focuses on the importance of philosophy in the modern world.

Metaphysics

Metaphysics is the study of existence on a whole. An example of this branch of philosophy is existentialism. Philosophers attempt to figure out the true nature of reality itself. They try to analyze what exists in the world, how everything is ordered in the world, how it all fits together, and what existence ultimately means. Students of metaphysical philosophy also strive to attain truths about the existence of God and whether or not people have free will, as well as whether or not the mind exists and is connected to the body. They try to figure out if there is more to existence than the physical world, and if there’s more to it than just the matter that surrounds those who are alive. They may also struggle with whether one particular event can cause another or if there really is no relationship between events that happen throughout a person’s life or throughout history.

Epistemology

Known as the study of knowledge, epistemology can also be referred to as rationalism. Philosophers who focus on this branch will try to figure out everything that there is to know about the world, as well as how individuals can come to know even more about existence and the universe that they live in. Questions about knowingness arise. For example, how can one claim to really know something? Do people really know anything? Have they ever really been able to reach any actual truths and, if so, how can they know that they have?

Logic

Logic is the branch that strives to provide solid reasons and arguments that justify the conclusions individuals have come to in their attempts to answer questions about life and existence. In other words, these philosophers seek proof for the answers to the questions that have been inspiring thinkers for centuries. These people focus on logical justifications to determine whether a person’s reasoning is bad or good.

Ethics and Politics

Moral philosophy is also referred to as ethics, and it focuses on the actions that people should take. Moral relativism is an example of this branch. There is a focus on what people should do and what the best actions in any given situation would be. But questions about what defines something as being good often arise as a result. What makes a person right or just? What makes an action good or bad? Can morality be objective or should it be subjective? How should people treat one another? When it comes to politics, or the study of force, these same questions arise with regards to what is deemed acceptable behavior in a proper and just society, and what actually defines a society as a proper or improper one in the first place. In today’s world, ethics comes into play in every aspect of life, including business, and you can learn about how to run an ethical organization by enrolling in this course.

Aesthetics

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that studies art and all things beautiful. It focuses on how things could potentially be. By studying beautiful things, philosophers can imagine what life can be like if things were ideal.

The Many Schools of Eastern Philosophy

There are many different schools of Eastern philosophy, and some of their teachings mirror those of Western philosophy. However, unlike Western philosophy, which tends to separate religion from itself, Eastern philosophy tends to blend religious and philosophical beliefs together.

Indian

Indian philosophies are varied and include Sikh philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While some of these, such as Hinduism, include a focus on revering a number of gods, others, such as Buddhism, do not wish to argue over the existence of an ultimate divine being and would rather reach enlightenment through individual practice.

East Asian

East Asian schools of philosophy include Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism, and Maoism. Confucianism is based on classic Chinese texts, while Neo-Confucianism expanded upon the original teachings and Taoism is very different from Confucianism.

Many Eastern schools of philosophy are becoming increasingly popular in the Western world and are being adopted by individuals who are exposed to their teachings. Through meditative practices and the attractiveness of yoga, which are both popular means by which Westerners can ground themselves and take some time out to quiet the mind and reconnect with the world around them despite their busy and hectic lives, more people are being introduced to the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism. Still others may find the musings and poetry of individuals like Lao Tzu, a Taoist philosopher, inspiring and motivating in everyday life, and they may choose to transfer those teachings into their work in order to be more ethical or to aspire to do great things despite challenges they face.

Learn yoga poses you can execute on the mat, as well as steps you can take to lead a more yogic and peaceful existence off the mat. And for those who don’t completely agree with monotheism or atheism, certain Eastern philosophies like Buddhism may be attractive because they focus on the individual soul’s journey through the universe. Through a course in traditional martial arts or Tai Chi, individuals who want to connect with their physical bodies and with Asian philosophies can learn not only how to defend themselves but also how to balance their emotions and their outlook on life.

Studying and Applying Philosophy

Philosophy is a very broad field of study that offers answers and advice to some of life’s most compelling questions. Those who are attracted to it will find that their ultimate goal is to seek reasons for the way society is, while also finding ways of improving the way people interact. And philosophy’s many branches reach into the different aspects of human existence every day, helping people run ethical organizations and make decisions that will foster the growth and development of societies and cultures around the world.

If you would like to be an everyday philosopher and meet with other like-minded individuals to have intelligent and stimulating discussions, consider starting a philosophy salon by using the tips that are provided in this course. Anyone can do it and no prior experience in the field is necessary, but you certainly can meet some interesting people and perhaps get some of your deepest philosophical inquiries cleared up.