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Introduction: Exploring the Formation of Reason

View access options below. You previously purchased this article through ReadCube. Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. The work of Aristotle was very influential among the falsafa such as al-Kindi 9th century , Avicenna — June and Averroes 12th century. Others such as Al-Ghazali were highly critical of the methods of the Aristotelian falsafa. Islamic thinkers also developed a scientific method , experimental medicine, a theory of optics and a legal philosophy. Ibn Khaldun was an influential thinker in philosophy of history.


In Iran several schools of Islamic philosophy continued to flourish after the Golden Age and include currents such as Illuminationist philosophy , Sufi philosophy , and Transcendent theosophy. The 19th- and 20th-century Arab world saw the Nahda awakening or renaissance movement which influenced contemporary Islamic philosophy. Jainism and Buddhism originated at the end of the Vedic period, while Hinduism emerged as a fusion of diverse traditions, starting after the end of the Vedic period. Important Indian philosophical concepts shared by the Indian philosophies include dharma , karma , artha , kama , dukkha suffering , anitya anicca, impermanence , dhyana jhana, meditation , renunciation with or without monasticism or asceticism , various samsara with cycles of rebirth, moksha nirvana, kaivalya, liberation from rebirth , and virtues such as ahimsa.

Jain philosophy accepts the concept of a permanent soul jiva as one of the five astikayas , or eternal infinite categories that make up the substance of existence. The other four being dharma , adharma , akasha space and pudgala matter. The Jain thought separates matter from the soul completely. Buddhist philosophy begins with the thought of Gautama Buddha fl. The Mahayana branches of Buddhist thought are the dominant philosophical traditions in East Asian regions such as China , Korea and Japan. Because ignorance to the true nature of things is considered one of the roots of suffering dukkha , Buddhist philosophy is concerned with epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and psychology.

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Buddhist philosophical texts must also be understood within the context of meditative practices which are supposed to bring about certain cognitive shifts. After the death of the Buddha, various groups began to systematize his main teachings, eventually developing comprehensive philosophical systems termed ' Abhidharma '. There were numerous schools, sub-schools and traditions of Buddhist philosophy in India.

After the disappearance of Buddhism from India, some of these philosophical traditions continued to develop in the Tibetan Buddhist , East Asian Buddhist and Theravada Buddhist traditions. They represent a "collection of philosophical views that share a textual connection", according to Chadha.

Some of the earliest surviving Hindu mystical and philosophical texts are the Upanishads of the later Vedic period — BCE. Hindu philosophers of the six schools developed systems of epistemology pramana and investigated topics such as metaphysics, ethics, psychology guna , hermeneutics and soteriology within the framework of the Vedic knowledge, while presenting a diverse collection of interpretations.

The commonly named six orthodox schools over time led to what has been called the "Hindu synthesis" as exemplified by its scripture the Bhagavad Gita. East Asian philosophical thought began in Ancient China , and Chinese philosophy begins during the Western Zhou Dynasty and the following periods after its fall when the " Hundred Schools of Thought " flourished 6th century to BCE.

These philosophical traditions developed metaphysical, political and ethical theories such Tao , Yin and yang , Ren and Li which, along with Chinese Buddhism , directly influenced Korean philosophy , Vietnamese philosophy and Japanese philosophy which also includes the native Shinto tradition.


During later Chinese dynasties like the Ming Dynasty — as well as in the Korean Joseon dynasty — a resurgent Neo-Confucianism led by thinkers such as Wang Yangming — became the dominant school of thought, and was promoted by the imperial state. In the Modern era, Chinese thinkers incorporated ideas from Western philosophy.

Modern Japanese thought meanwhile developed under strong Western influences such as the study of Western Sciences Rangaku and the modernist Meirokusha intellectual society which drew from European enlightenment thought. The 20th century saw the rise of State Shinto and also Japanese nationalism.

The Kyoto School , an influential and unique Japanese philosophical school developed from Western phenomenology and Medieval Japanese Buddhist philosophy such as that of Dogen. African philosophy is philosophy produced by African people , philosophy that presents African worldviews, ideas and themes, or philosophy that uses distinct African philosophical methods. Modern African thought has been occupied with Ethnophilosophy , with defining the very meaning of African philosophy and its unique characteristics and what it means to be African.

Another early African philosopher was Anton Wilhelm Amo c. Contemporary African thought has also seen the development of Professional philosophy and of Africana philosophy , the philosophical literature of the African diaspora which includes currents such as black existentialism by African-Americans.

Modern African thinkers have been influenced by Marxism , African-American literature , Critical theory , Critical race theory , Postcolonialism and Feminism. Indigenous American philosophy is the philosophy of the Indigenous people of the Americas. There is a wide variety of beliefs and traditions among these different American cultures. Another widely shared concept was that of Orenda or "spiritual power".

According to Peter M. Whiteley, for the Native Americans, "Mind is critically informed by transcendental experience dreams, visions and so on as well as by reason. Another feature of the indigenous American worldviews was their extension of ethics to non-human animals and plants. In Mesoamerica , Aztec philosophy was an intellectual tradition developed by individuals called Tlamatini 'those who know something' [87] and its ideas are preserved in various Aztec codices.

The Aztec worldview posited the concept of an ultimate universal energy or force called Ometeotl which can be translated as "Dual Cosmic Energy" and sought a way to live in balance with a constantly changing, "slippery" world. The theory of Teotl can be seen as a form of Pantheism. Aztec ethics was focused on seeking tlamatiliztli knowledge, wisdom which was based on moderation and balance in all actions as in the Nahua proverb "the middle good is necessary". The Inca civilization also had an elite class of philosopher-scholars termed the Amawtakuna who were important in the Inca education system as teachers of religion, tradition, history and ethics.

Philosophical questions can be grouped into categories. These groupings allow philosophers to focus on a set of similar topics and interact with other thinkers who are interested in the same questions. The groupings also make philosophy easier for students to approach. Students can learn the basic principles involved in one aspect of the field without being overwhelmed with the entire set of philosophical theories.

Various sources present different categorical schemes. The categories adopted in this article aim for breadth and simplicity. These five major branches can be separated into sub-branches and each sub-branch contains many specific fields of study. These divisions are neither exhaustive, nor mutually exclusive. A philosopher might specialize in Kantian epistemology, or Platonic aesthetics, or modern political philosophy. Furthermore, these philosophical inquiries sometimes overlap with each other and with other inquiries such as science, religion or mathematics.

Metaphysics is the study of the most general features of reality , such as existence , time , objects and their properties , wholes and their parts, events, processes and causation and the relationship between mind and body. Metaphysics includes cosmology , the study of the world in its entirety and ontology , the study of being.

A major point of debate is between realism , which holds that there are entities that exist independently of their mental perception and idealism , which holds that reality is mentally constructed or otherwise immaterial. Metaphysics deals with the topic of identity. Essence is the set of attributes that make an object what it fundamentally is and without which it loses its identity while accident is a property that the object has, without which the object can still retain its identity.

Particulars are objects that are said to exist in space and time, as opposed to abstract objects , such as numbers, and universals , which are properties held by multiple particulars, such as redness or a gender. The type of existence, if any, of universals and abstract objects is an issue of debate.

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Epistemology is the study of knowledge Greek episteme. They also ask: What is truth? Is knowledge justified true belief? Are any beliefs justified? Putative knowledge includes propositional knowledge knowledge that something is the case , know-how knowledge of how to do something and acquaintance familiarity with someone or something. Epistemologists examine these and ask whether knowledge is really possible. Skepticism is the position which doubts claims to knowledge.

The regress argument , a fundamental problem in epistemology, occurs when, in order to completely prove any statement, its justification itself needs to be supported by another justification. This chain can go on forever, called infinitism , it can eventually rely on basic beliefs that are left unproven, called foundationalism , or it can go in a circle so that a statement is included in its own chain of justification, called coherentism.