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 Dictionary entry overview: What does philosophy mean? 

  The noun PHILOSOPHY has 3 senses:

1. a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school
2. the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics
3. any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation

  Familiarity information: PHILOSOPHY used as a noun is uncommon.

 Dictionary entry details 


Sense 1philosophy [BACK TO TOP]


A belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school

Classified under:

Nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents


doctrine; ism; philosophical system; philosophy; school of thought

Hypernyms ("philosophy" is a kind of...):

belief (any cognitive content held as true)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "philosophy"):

millennium ((New Testament) in Revelations it is foretold that those faithful to Jesus will reign with Jesus over the earth for a thousand years; the meaning of these words have been much debated; some denominations (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses) expect it to be a thousand years of justice and peace and happiness)

egalitarianism; equalitarianism (the doctrine of the equality of mankind and the desirability of political and economic and social equality)

humanism; humanitarianism (the doctrine that people's duty is to promote human welfare)

humanism; secular humanism (the doctrine emphasizing a person's capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural)

reformism (a doctrine of reform)

freethinking; rationalism (the doctrine that reason is the right basis for regulating conduct)

presentism (the doctrine that the Scripture prophecies of the Apocalypse (as in the Book of Revelations) are presently in the course of being fulfilled)

populism (the political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite)

pluralism (the doctrine that reality consists of several basic substances or elements)

pacificism; pacifism; passivism (the doctrine that all violence in unjustifiable)

nihilism (a revolutionary doctrine that advocates destruction of the social system for its own sake)

nationalism (the doctrine that nations should act independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals)

nationalism (the doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other)

multiculturalism (the doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country)

feminism (a doctrine that advocates equal rights for women)

reincarnationism (a doctrine that on the death of the body the soul migrates to or is born again in another body)

church doctrine; creed; gospel; religious doctrine (the written body of teachings of a religious group that are generally accepted by that group)

prescriptivism ((ethics) a doctrine holding that moral statements prescribe appropriate attitudes and behavior)

prescriptivism ((linguistics) a doctrine supporting or promoting prescriptive linguistics)

descriptivism ((ethics) a doctrine holding that moral statements have a truth value)

descriptivism ((linguistics) a doctrine supporting or promoting descriptive linguistics)

utilitarianism (doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number)

theological doctrine (the doctrine of a religious group)

commandment; precept; teaching (a doctrine that is taught)

states' rights (a doctrine that federal powers should be curtailed and returned to the individual states)

philosophical doctrine; philosophical theory (a doctrine accepted by adherents to a philosophy)

phenomenology (a philosophical doctrine proposed by Edmund Husserl based on the study of human experience in which considerations of objective reality are not taken into account)

secularism (a doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations)

secessionism (a doctrine that maintains the right of secession)

monism (the doctrine that reality consists of a single basic substance or element)

democracy; majority rule (the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group)

literalism (the doctrine of realistic (literal) portrayal in art or literature)

dogma (a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative)

divine right; divine right of kings (the doctrine that kings derive their right to rule directly from God and are not accountable to their subjects; rebellion is the worst of political crimes)

credo; creed (any system of principles or beliefs)

creationism (the literal belief in the account of creation given in the Book of Genesis)

asceticism (the doctrine that through renunciation of worldly pleasures it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state)

antiestablishmentarianism; antiestablishmentism (the doctrine of opposition to the social and political establishment)

animism (the doctrine that all natural objects and the universe itself have souls)

animalism (the doctrine that human beings are purely animal in nature and lacking a spiritual nature)

amoralism (the doctrine that moral distinctions are invalid)

absolutism (the doctrine of an absolute being)

abolitionism (the doctrine that calls for the abolition of slavery)

Cabalism; Kabbalism (the doctrines of the Kabbalah)

nuclear deterrence (the military doctrine that an enemy will be deterred from using nuclear weapons as long as he can be destroyed as a consequence)

dualism (the doctrine that reality consists of two basic opposing elements, often taken to be mind and matter (or mind and body), or good and evil)

dynamism (any of the various theories or doctrines or philosophical systems that attempt to explain the phenomena of the universe in terms of some immanent force or energy)

epicureanism (a doctrine of hedonism that was defended by several ancient Greek philosophers)

irredentism; irridentism (the doctrine that irredenta should be controlled by the country to which they are ethnically or historically related)

unilateralism (the doctrine that nations should conduct their foreign affairs individualistically without the advice or involvement of other nations)

internationalism (the doctrine that nations should cooperate because their common interests are more important than their differences)

individualism; laissez faire (the doctrine that government should not interfere in commercial affairs)

imitation (the doctrine that representations of nature or human behavior should be accurate imitations)

gymnosophy (the doctrine of a sect of Hindu philosophers who practiced nudity and asceticism and meditation)

gospel (a doctrine that is believed to be of great importance)

Girondism (the doctrine of the Girondists)

establishmentarianism; establishmentism (the doctrine of supporting the social or political establishment)

ethicism (a doctrine that ethics and ethical ideas are valid and important)

expansionism (the doctrine of expanding the territory or the economic influence of a country)

formalism (the doctrine that formal structure rather than content is what should be represented)

functionalism (any doctrine that stresses utility or purpose)

Sense 2philosophy [BACK TO TOP]


The rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics

Classified under:

Nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents

Hypernyms ("philosophy" is a kind of...):

arts; humanistic discipline; humanities; liberal arts (studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills (rather than occupational or professional skills))

Domain member category:

solipsism ((philosophy) the philosophical theory that the self is all that you know to exist)

sensationalism; sensualism ((philosophy) the ethical doctrine that feeling is the only criterion for what is good)

semiology; semiotics ((philosophy) a philosophical theory of the functions of signs and symbols)

relativism ((philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved)

naive realism; realism ((philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that physical objects continue to exist when not perceived)

rationalism ((philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge is acquired by reason without resort to experience)

probabilism ((philosophy) the doctrine that (since certainty is unattainable) probability is a sufficient basis for belief and action)

Stoicism ((philosophy) the philosophical system of the Stoics following the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Zeno)

subjectivism ((philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge and value are dependent on and limited by your subjective experience)

teleology ((philosophy) a doctrine explaining phenomena by their ends or purposes)

vitalism ((philosophy) a doctrine that life is a vital principle distinct from physics and chemistry)

final cause ((philosophy) the end or purpose of a thing or process)

philosopher (a specialist in philosophy)

immanent; subjective (of a mental act performed entirely within the mind)

transeunt; transient (of a mental act; causing effects outside the mind)

dianoetic; discursive (proceeding to a conclusion by reason or argument rather than intuition)

pragmatism ((philosophy) the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value)

Platonism; realism ((philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that abstract concepts exist independent of their names)

aesthetic; esthetic ((philosophy) a philosophical theory as to what is beautiful)

Aristotelianism ((philosophy) the philosophy of Aristotle that deals with logic and metaphysics and ethics and poetics and politics and natural science)

deconstruction; deconstructionism (a philosophical theory of criticism (usually of literature or film) that seeks to expose deep-seated contradictions in a work by delving below its surface meaning)

empiricism; empiricist philosophy; sensationalism ((philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge derives from experience)

existential philosophy; existentialism; existentialist philosophy ((philosophy) a 20th-century philosophical movement chiefly in Europe; assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves)

determinism ((philosophy) a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will)

formalism ((philosophy) the philosophical theory that formal (logical or mathematical) statements have no meaning but that its symbols (regarded as physical entities) exhibit a form that has useful applications)

idealism ((philosophy) the philosophical theory that ideas are the only reality)

intuitionism ((philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge is acquired primarily by intuition)

logicism ((philosophy) the philosophical theory that all of mathematics can be derived from formal logic)

materialism; physicalism ((philosophy) the philosophical theory that matter is the only reality)

mechanism ((philosophy) the philosophical theory that all phenomena can be explained in terms of physical or biological causes)

mentalism ((philosophy) a doctrine that mind is the true reality and that objects exist only as aspects of the mind's awareness)

nativism ((philosophy) the philosophical theory that some ideas are innate)

naturalism ((philosophy) the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations)

nominalism ((philosophy) the doctrine that the various objects labeled by the same term have nothing in common but their name)

operationalism ((philosophy) the doctrine that the meaning of a proposition consists of the operations involved in proving or applying it)

presentational (of or relating to a presentation (especially in psychology or philosophy))

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "philosophy"):

epistemology (the philosophical theory of knowledge)

logic (the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference)

dialectic (any formal system of reasoning that arrives at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments)

metaphysics (the philosophical study of being and knowing)

jurisprudence; law; legal philosophy (the branch of philosophy concerned with the law and the principles that lead courts to make the decisions they do)

axiology (the study of values and value judgments)

aesthetics; esthetics ((art) the branch of philosophy dealing with beauty and taste (emphasizing the evaluative criteria that are applied to art))

aetiology; etiology (the philosophical study of causation)

ethics; moral philosophy (the philosophical study of moral values and rules)

transcendental philosophy; transcendentalism (any system of philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual above the empirical and material)

Sense 3philosophy [BACK TO TOP]


Any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation

Classified under:

Nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents

Context examples:

self-indulgence was his only philosophy / my father's philosophy of child-rearing was to let mother do it

Hypernyms ("philosophy" is a kind of...):

belief (any cognitive content held as true)

 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"The more things change, the more they stay the same." (English proverb)

"Patience is bitter, but it has a sweet fruit." (Afghanistan proverb)

"Believe what you see and not all you hear." (Arabic proverb)

"Eat a big bite but don't say a big statement." (Cypriot proverb)

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