Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

, knowledge, values, reason, mind
Philosophy of mind
Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind-body problem, i.e...

, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

. The word "philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom".
The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...


Philosophy is not the owl of Minerva that takes flight after history has been realized in order to celebrate its happy ending; rather, philosophy is subjective proposition, desire, and praxis that are applied to the event.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire

"'Philosophy' is a word which has been used in many ways, some wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense, which I will now try to explain."

Bertrand Russell A History of Western Philosophy

Philosophy makes progress not by becoming more rigorous but by becoming more imaginative.

Richard Rorty, Introduction to Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume 3 (1998).

To philosophise is to learn to die – philosophising is a soaring up to the Godhead – the knowledge of Being as Being.

Karl Jaspers, Philosophy and Science, World Review Magazine, March 1950.

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.

Anonymous; quoted in

"Too much philosophy makes men mad." ~ Alan Judd, The Noonday Devil (1987)

"'You only think you are you barnpots,' shouted angry farmers from the meadows. 'Shut that row up! You're frightening the chickens, you lot and your bloody philosophy. You can't eat philosophy can you? Where would you be if us farmers went round spouting statements like that, eh? Dead, that's where you'd be! Because there'd be naff all to eat!"

Mike Harding 'Rambling on'

Physics and philosophy are at most a few thousand years old, but probably have lives of thousands of millions of years stretching away in front of them. They are only just beginning to get under way.

Physics and Philosophy, by James Jeans (1942), p.217.