Philosophy Encyclopedia

Philosophy Encyclopedia

If you would like to prepare for school subjects or simply increase your general knowledge, then enjoy our philosophy encyclopedia. We tried to focus only on very important terms and definitions. We also kept our terminology very brief so that you absorb the concept more quickly and easily.

Philosophy Glossary (Page 1)

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A POSTERIORI: The opposite of 'A PRIORI'. A posteriori knowledge can be established only by experience (usually: sense-experience) or reasoning from experience. Example: 'There are nine planets in the solar system.' 'EMPIRICAL' is a synonym for 'A posteriori'. See also EMPIRICISM.
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) A PRIORI- - An argument based on evidence obtained prior to and independent of sense experience. A concept is a priori if it is not derived from experience; a proposition is a priori if it can be known to be true independently from experience. Standard examples of a priori knowledge are mathematical (arithmetical and geometrical) propositions. Opposed to a posteriori, empirical.
A PRIORI: A priori knowkedge is knowledge which can be established independently of experience or reasoning from experience. Examples of a priori truths: 'Bachelors are male'; '2+2=4'. ANALYTIC truths are a priori; whether there are other kinds of a priori truths is controversial. See also RATIONALISM.
A.D.: Abbreviation of Latin phrase, anno Domini, translated as "the year of the Lord." Traditional calendar abbreviation for reckoning the years after the birth of Christ. The years before the birth of Christ are reckoned as B.C., translated as "before Christ." Modern scholarship, seeking to be more objective and less centered on the heritage of Christianity, generally utilizes the abbreviations B.C.E., for "before the common era," and C.E. for "the common era." Generally viewed as a practice sensitive to Jewish and other non-Christian historical research, though many claim the system continues to discriminate against non-Christian and non-Jewish calendar reckonings. To avoid confusion, American newspapers generally follow the traditional A.D. and B.C. abbreviations.
ABSOLUTE: That which is unconditioned, uncaused, not limited by anything outside itself.
ABSOLUTISM: In ethics, especially, this term is used in apposition to relativism. In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, the great philosopher writes, "Fire burns both in Greece and in Persia, but men's ideas of right and wrong vary from place to place." This is an expression of moral relativism which asserts that there are many valid views with regard to a particular ethical issues. In contrast, absolutism would imply that there are universal ethical standards which are inflexible and absolute. See relativism.
ABSURDISM: Philosophy stating that the efforts of man to find meaning in the universe will ultimately fail because no such meaning exists (at least in relation to man). Absurdism is related to existentialism, though should not be confused with it, nor nihilism.
ACADEMY: The philosophical school founded by Plato in 385 BC. Some scholars contend that this was, in fact, the first university.
ACCIDENT: A property or attribute that a (type of) thing or substance can either have or lack while still remaining the same (type of) thing or substance. For instance, I can either be sitting or standing, shod or unshod, and still be me (i.e., one and the same human being). Contrast: essence.
ACCIDENTALISM: Any system of thought which denies the causal nexus and maintains that events succeed one another haphazardly or by chance (not in the mathematical but in the popular sense). In metaphysics, accidentalism denies the doctrine that everything occurs or results from a definite cause. In this connection it is synonymous with tychism (ruxi, chance), a term used by Charles Sanders Peirce for the theories which make chance an objective factor in the process of the Universe.
ACOSMISM: In contrast to pantheism, denies the reality of the universe, seeing it as ultimately illusory, (the prefix "a-" in Greek meaning negation; like "un-" in English), and only the infinite Unmanifest Absolute as real. This philosophy begins with the recognition that there is only one Reality, which is infinite, non-dual, blissful, etc. Yet the phenomenal reality of which we are normally aware is none of these things; it is in fact just the opposite: i.e. Dualistic, finite, full of suffering and pain, and so on. And since the Absolute is the only reality, that means that everything that is not-Absolute cannot be real. Thus, according to this viewpoint, the phenomenal dualistic world is ultimately an illusion ("Maya" to use the technical Indian term), irrespective of the apparent reality it possesses at the mundane or empirical level.
ACTUAL: What really is the case, as opposed to what's possible (could be the case) and to what's necessary (must be the case); all of which are opposed to what's impossible (can't be the case). Concerning the latter "opposition": the categories possible and impossible are jointly exhaustive (everything is either one or the other). Concerning the former "opposition": necessity, actuality, and possibility are not mutually exclusive: everything necessary is also actual (what must be the case is the case) and everything actual is possible (whatever is is possible). In other words, necessity entails actuality, and actuality entails possibility. (Also see contingent.) ACTUALITY:- the domain of actual facts; what is the case.
ACTUTILITARIANISM: See UTILITARIANISM.
AD HOC: You call something ad hoc when it's introduced for a particular purpose, instead of for some general, antecedently motivated reason. So, for instance, an ad hoc decision is a decision you make when there's no general rule or precedent telling you what to do. Philosophers sometimes accuse their opponents of making AD HOC HYPOTHESES (or ad hoc stipulations, or ad hoc amendments to their analyses, etc.). These are hypotheses (or stipulations or amendments) adopted purely for the purpose of saving a theory from difficulty or refutation, without any independent motivation or rationale. They will usually strike the reader as artificial or "cheating." For instance, suppose you analyze "bird" as "any creature that can fly." I then cite mosquitos as a counter-example. They can fly, but they aren't birds. Now, you might fix up your analysis as follows: A bird is any creature that can fly, and which is not a mosquito. This would be an ad hoc response to my counter-example. Alternatively, you might fix up your analysis as follows: A bird is any creature that can fly, and which has a backbone. This would be an independently motivated, and more appropriate, response to my counter-example. (Of course, someone may discover counter-examples even to this revised analysis.) AD HOMINEM- An AD HOMINEM ARGUMENT is an argument that attacks a claim on the basis of features of the person who holds it. Two different sorts of argument are called " ad hominem arguments." One of these is a fallacious sort of argument; the other is perfectly respectable. The fallacious version is where you criticize someone's views because of logically irrelevant personal defects. For instance: His views about relationships must be false because he's a philanderer. Or: His views about politics must be false because he doesn't know what he's talking about. You should remember that authorities no matter how eminent can be wrong, and that scoundrels and fools-even if they are unjustified in their beliefs-might nonetheless turn out to be right. The source of a belief is one thing, and whether there are any good reasons to hold the view is something else. The respectable argument called an " ad hominem argument" consists in objecting to someone's claim on the grounds that it's incompatible with other views he holds-regardless of whether you regard those other views as correct. For instance, suppose Max says: The U.S. Postal Service is very unreliable. I think we should allow private, for-profit companies like fedex and UPS to compete on an equal footing with the Postal Service. Then Sally objects: But Max, you are a communist! Sally is not just calling Max a name. Sally's point is that Max's previous commitments force him to support state control and oppose private enterprise, and these commitments conflict with the view he's advocating now. This is a perfectly legitimate criticism of Max. Philosophers generally use the phrase " ad hominem argument" in the second sense.
ADVENTISM: A Christian doctrine emphasizing the imminence of the return of Jesus Christ to earth to reign as Lord and savior of humankind. See also Apocalypse below).
AESTHETIC: Pertaining to art and to beauty or artistic value.
AESTHETICISM: Another name for the Aesthetic movement, a loosely defined movement in art and literature in later 19th century Britain. Proponents of the movement held that art does not have any didactic purpose, it need only be beautiful. Life should copy Art. The main characteristics of the movement were: suggestion rather than statement, sensuality, massive use of symbols, and synaesthetic effects -that is, correspondence between words, colors and music.
AESTHETICS: The branch of philosophy that deals with beauty and art. Central questions in aesthetics include: What is art? What kinds of objects possess aesthetic value? Is aesthetic experience rational or emotional? What is the relationship between an artist, their artwork and the critics? AGNOSTIC- Someone who claims that they do not know or are unable to know whether God exists.
AFFIRMATIONS: Term used in Shinto to emphasize its core beliefs. The affirmations of Shinto are: 1) the family unit and family traditions, especially events marking changes in life stages, i.e., birth, maturity, marriage, death; 2) nature, a respect for all parts of the physical world; 3) cleanliness of body, utensils and living space, which is especially important for entertaining the presence of the spirits; 4) matsuri or festivals that provide a communal and social opportunity to honor the kami, or spirits.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: A policy seeking to compensate victims of previous racial and sexual discrimination, to remedy lingering effects of such discrimination, or to combat ongoing institutionalized and unintentional discriminatory practices by providing reverse preferences favoring members of classes previously disadvantaged.
AGE OF REASON: See Enlightenment.
AGNOSTIC: One who maintains that God or some primary force cannot be demonstrated or proven or disproven. Taken from the Greek, a= without + gnosis= knowing, knowledge. An attitude of skepticism concerning matters of faith and belief. Do not confuse agnosticism with unbelief. Most religions differentiate between agnostics, who may be considered seekers, and atheists who vigorously assert their unbelief.
AGNOSTIC ATHEISM: The philosophical view that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism. Due to definitional variance, an agnostic atheist does not believe in God or gods and by extension holds true: 'the existence and nonexistence of deities is currently unknown and may be absolutely unknowable', or 'knowledge of the existence and nonexistence of deities is irrelevant or unimportant', or 'abstention from claims of knowledge of the existence and nonexistence of deities is optimal'.
AGNOSTIC THEISM: The philosophical view that encompasses both theism and agnosticism. An agnostic theist is one who views that the truth value of claims regarding the existence of god(s) is unknown or inherently unknowable but chooses to believe in god(s) in spite of this.
AGNOSTICISM: Literally, "without knowledge." Usually used to refer to someone who does not know if God exists. A "hard" agnostic says that he does not know if God exists, no one else knows if God exists, and it is impossible to know if God exists. A "soft" agnostic says that he does not know if God exists, someone may know if God exists, and it might be possible to know if God exists.
AHIMSA: A Hindu principle pointing at the reverence for all of life, and thus a key principle in the daily behavior of Hindus, especially in relation to animals. Ahimsa is closely related to the growth of vegetarianism among Hindus and derivative religions such as Hare Krishna.
ALCHEMY: A Medieval and ancient practice which combined occult mysticism and chemistry. Essentially, alchemists tried to discover a formula where they could blend certain metals into gold , or where they could blend certain potions into an elixir of immortality .
ALIENATION: This was a term used by Karl Marx (1818-83) to denote the division and separation between the upper class ( bourgeosie ) and the lower class ( proletariat ). In recent years, the term has been used to suggest estrangement, powerlessness, and the depersonalization of the individual.
ALL SAINTS DAY; ALL SOULS DAY: A Christian celebration on November 1 to commemorate historical persons-the saints-who have made significant contributions to the Christian church but are not remembered on any special day of the Christian calendar. All Saints Day is preceeded by ALL SOULS DAY or All Hallows Day (October 31), a solemn day that traditionally claimed witches and evil spirits roamed, but has become Americanized in the celebration of the fright and pranks of Halloween (literally, All Hallows Eve, based on the Middle English pronunciation; in old English the word hallow means saint).
ALLAH: Arabic word for God. The Muslim name for God. See Shahadah.
ALLELUIA: Latin term for "praise to the Lord." Greek term is similar, . Used in Christian church as an expression of praise throughout the church year, except during Lent , when Alleluia is omitted from the liturgy as a sign of penitence. Capitalized as an expression of praise; lower-case when used as a collective noun, as in, The congregation shouted their alleluias to the heavens.
ALPHA AND OMEGA: The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, used by Christians as a symbol of God's eternal existence as the beginning and the end of all things. Some Christians also utilize the Greek letters alpha mu omega - the first Greek letter, the middle Greek letter, and the last Greek letter - to symbolize the eternal nature of the Son, Jesus Christ, as he who is "the same yesterday, today and forever." ALTRUISM:- (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.
ALTRUISM: Altruistic actions are those performed for the sake of others. Altruism is the hypothesis that morality involves acting for the sake of others.
AMBIGUOUS: In a philosophical discussion, you should call a term "ambiguous" when and only when the expression has more than one acceptable meaning. For instance, "bank" is ambiguous (river bank, Bank of Boston). Also, sentences can be ambiguous, as in "Flying planes can be dangerous." Is it the activity of flying which is dangerous, or is it the planes which are dangerous? Or: "Every child loves a clown." Does this mean there is one lucky clown that all the children love? Or does it mean that for each child, there is a particular clown which he or she loves (but not necessarily the same clown for each child)? Or does it mean that every child is favorably disposed to clowns in general? You should not call an expression "ambiguous" just because different people have different views or theories about it. Different people have different views about what it means to be good, but that doesn't yet show that the expression "good" is ambiguous. It just shows that there's some controversy over what "good" means. Nor should you call an expression "ambiguous" just because it's vague, or imprecise, or difficult to know what the correct philosophical theory of it is. When an argument illegitimately trades on an ambiguity, we say that the argument equivocates.
ANABAPTIST: Protestant sectarian movement arising in the 16th century that advocated baptism and church membership of adult believers only, nonresistance, and the separation of church and state. See baptism, Baptist, believer's baptism .
ANALECTS OR ANALECTS: When capitalized, this refers to the collected sayings and conversations of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. These form the bedrock of the developed religion of Confucianism. When written in lower case, analects refers to any generally gathered collection of writings.
ANALYTIC: Three common definitions (1) An analytic truth (e.g. 'Bachelors are unmarried') is true solely in virtue of the meanings of the words that express it; (2) an analytic truth (e.g. 'Bachelors are unmarried') is one whose negation is or implies a self-contradiction; (3) the idea or concept represented by the subject term contains that represented by the predicate term (this applies only where the proposition is of subject-predicate form) - e.g. The idea of a bachelor contains that of being unmarried. Analytic truths are to be contrasted with SYNTHETIC ones, and exemplify A PRIORI knowledge.
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) ANALYTIC:- A sentence, proposition, thought, or judgement is analytic if "it is true in virtue of our determination to use (consistently) a particular symbolism or language." True, it is sometimes said, because we assign the words of language the meanings that we assign them. Example: All bachelors are unmarried males. Some philosophers have maintained that all the truths of mathematics are analytic, and that all necessary and a priori truths are analytic,true by definition, or the denial of which would lead to a contradiction. Statements such as "All triangles have three angles" and "No bachelors are married," are examples of sentences commonly deemed analytic. Contrast term: synthetic. Kant coined this terminology and stressed this distinction. Many contemporary analytic philosophers, following Quine, deny its cogency.
ANALYTICAL REDUCTIONISM: As used in "Is Reductionism A Good Approach In Science?" "is the underlying a priori of ontological reductionism".
ANARCHISM: Political theory which denies the moral legitimacy of all forms of government and advocates the complete abolition of it.
ANARCHO-CAPITALISM: A philosophy based on the idea of individual sovereignty, and a prohibition against initiatory coercion and fraud. It sees the only just basis for law as arising from private property norms and an unlimited right of contract between sovereign individuals. From this basis, anarcho-capitalism rejects the state as an unjustified monopolist and aggressor against sovereign individuals, and embraces anti-statist laissez-faire capitalism. Anarcho-capitalists would aim to protect individual liberty and property by replacing a government monopoly, which is involuntarily funded through taxation, with private, competing businesses.
ANARCHO-PRIMITIVISM: An anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. Primitivists argue that the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation. They advocate a return to non-"civilized" ways of life through deindustrialisation, abolition of division of labour or specialization, and abandonment of technology.
ANARCHO-SYNDICALISM: A form of anarchism which allies itself with syndicalism, that is, with labor unions, as a force for revolutionary social change. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to replace capitalism and the state with a democratically worker-managed means of production. They seek to abolish the wage system and most forms of private property.
ANGST: A German word which means "anxiety" or "anguish." Technically, this is a term used in Existentialism which expresses the dread reality that the future is an unknown chasm; therefore, the choices that a person ( the existent ) makes are the determining factor in the outcome of one's future - thus, the cause for "angst." ANIMISM- - The world view that says all things, animate or inanimate, possess souls or spirits. This is a religious/spiritual view which asserts that everything in the universe, whether animate or inanimate, is embued with some psychological/spiritual consciousness. Although animism is usually attributed to tribal cultures, some philosophers have held to similar views as well - e.g., Plotinus, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, et al.
ANIMISM: Animism has been applied to many different philosophical systems. It is used to describe Aristotle's view of the relation of soul and body held also by the stoics and scholastics. On the other hand monadology (Leibniz) has also been termed animistic. The name is most commonly applied to vitalism, which makes life, or life and mind, the directive principle in evolution and growth, holding that life is not merely mechanical but that there is a directive force which guides energy without altering its amount. An entirely different class of ideas, also termed animistic, is the belief in the world soul, held by Plato, Schelling and others. Lastly, in discussions of religion, "animism" refers to the belief in indwelling souls or spirits, particularly so-called "primitive" religions which consider everything to be inhabited by spirits.
ANTHROPOCENTRISM: Also called Homocentrism, is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of regarding the existence and/or concerns of human beings as the central fact of the universe. This is similar, but not identical, to the practice of relating all that happens in the universe to the human experience. To clarify, the first position concludes that the fact of human existence is the point of universal existence; the latter merely compares all activity to that of humanity, without making any teleological conclusions.
ANTHROPOMORPHISM[1]: A form of personification (applying human or animal qualities to inanimate objects) and similar to prosopopoeia (adopting the persona of another person), is the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to non-human beings, objects, or natural phenomena. Animals, forces of nature, and unseen or unknown authors of chance are frequent subjects of anthropomorphosis. Two examples are the attribution of a human body or of human qualities generally to God (or the gods), and creating imaginary persons who are the embodiment of an abstraction such as Death, Lust, War, or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
ANTICHRIST: A belief among many Christians, based on the Bible's Book of Revelation, that some individual will arise near the closing of recorded time to challenge the authority and power of Christ. Some Christians teach that this person is already alive; others teach that he or she will appear shortly. In the Bible, the Antichrist is associated with the symbolic number 666. See Apocalypse.
ANTINOMIANISM: In theology is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality as presented by religious authorities. Antinomianism is the polar opposite of legalism, the notion that obedience to a code of religious law is necessary for salvation. The term has become a point of contention among opposed religious authorities. Few groups or sects explicitly call themselves "antinomian", but the charge is often levelled by some sects against competing sects.
ANTINOMY: Kant believed that when reason goes beyond possible experience it often falls into various antinomies, or equally rational but contradictory views. Reason cannot here play the role of establishing rational truths because it goes beyond possible experience and becomes transcendent. E.g. Kant thought that one could reason from the assumption that the world had a beginning in time to the conclusion that it did not, and vice versa. This was part of Kant's critical program of determining limits to science and philosophical inquiry.
ANTI-REALISM: Any position involving either the denial of the objective reality of entities of a certain type or the insistence that we should be agnostic about their real existence. Thus, we may speak of anti-realism with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought.
ANTISEMITISM: A prejudice, often expressed in physical abuse, against persons of Jewish faith and nationality. Historically, anti-Semitism has been justified by blaming Jews for the death of Jesus or by accusing Jews of being sly and cheating merchants or financiers. The low-point of anti-Semitism was expressed in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust (1933-1945), and it remains a philosophical position of many modern paramilitary and social hate groups and secret societies. The term is rooted in the Biblical character of Shem, a son of Noah who became an outcast. Editors must be particularly sensitive to Anti-Semitic language or implications in their publications.
APEIRON: Indefinite, or boundless (infinite).
APOCALYPSE, APOCALYPTIC: When capitalized, the word usually refers specifically to the Apocalypse of The Holy Bible, especially that of Christians. In the Christian New Testament, the last book is known as Revelation (or Revelations to Roman Catholics), which in Greek is Apocalypse. The word apocalypse has a Greek root meaning to uncover or to reveal. The word also refers to any one of several Jewish and Christian writings dating from 200 B.C.E. to 150 C.E. marked by an unknown or mysterious author, symbolic imagery, and the anticipation of a cosmic cataclysm during which God destroys the powers of evil and raises the faithful to life in a messianic kingdom. In literature, the word has been applied to a genre that focuses on end-of-the-world events. Apocalyptic Christian theology is also subsumed under the label of adventism or, more formally, under the label of eschatology.
APOLOGETICS: The defense of a position, usually of a world view, as to its truthfulness, its correspondence to reality, its factualness. Christian apologetics (see 1 Peter 3:15) argues for the truthfulness of Christianity through argumentation, evidence, and appeal to a priori knowledge.
APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION: A doctrine or dogma within Christianity that certain branches of the church trace their line of leadership to the original apostles. Doctrine is based on Jesus' commissioning of the apostles, especially the Apostle Peter, considered by many Christians to be the first bishop of the church in an unbroken line of bishops to the present.
APPEALS TO AUTHORITY: In philosophy, there are no real authorities. It is never acceptable to support a position simply by pointing out that someone you've read holds it. You can explain why you think Philosopher X's arguments for that position are persuasive, but a mere statement that the renowned Professor X holds a certain position carries no argumentive weight.
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).
APPERCEPTION: According to Leibniz and Kant: the mind's self-reflective awareness of its own thoughts. Self awareness.
ARCHBISHOP: The highest administrative clergy person or official in a church. In the Roman Catholic Church, the archbishop officially is the Pope. In the Anglican Communion, the archbishop of Canterbury is afforded informally a special place of honor as leader of the church. Many large churches of a particular organization are administered by archbishops. Such an administrative unit is known as an ARCHDIOCESE.
ARCHDIOCESE: The largest administrative unit of a Christian church with an episcopal government, generally overseen by an ARCHBISHOP.
ARCHE: Stuff (material cause or basic stuff).
ARGUMENT: Piece of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to conclusion. Kinds include INDUCTIVE and DEDUCTIVE.
ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY: In an argument from analogy we take two things which are similar in some observed ways and infer from this similarity that they are similar in other unobserved ways. If the observed similarity is not relevant to the posited unobserved similarity then this is a form of FALLACY.
ARGUMENT FROM EVIL: Argument from the existence of evil to the nonexistence of an omnipotent and omniscient and perfectly benevolent being such as God is supposed to be. Since evil exists, it's argued, either God can't prevent it (and so, is not omnipotent) or doesn't know about it (and so, is not omniscient) or doesn't wish to remove it (and so, is not perfectly benevolent). Contrast: teleological argument.
ARGUMENTUM AD VERECUNDIAM: This is a Latin phrase which means "appealing to respect." In essence, this is an appeal to an authority for support, even though that particular authority might not have adequate knowledge in the particular field under discussion.
ARHAT (SOMETIMES ARAHAT): A Buddhist term for one who attains enlightenment through solitude and asceticism. Associated with Theravada school of Buddhism, in which the arhat is considered a saint of solitude.
ARISTOCRACY: Political theory that advocates the rule of "the best" whom it identifies, generally, with a hereditary upper class. Contrast: autocracy, democracy, oligarchy.
ARISTOTELIANISM: Tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. Sometimes contrasted by critics with the rationalism and idealism of Plato, Aristotelianism is understood by its proponents as critically developing Plato's theories. Most particularly, Aristotelianism brings Plato's ideals down to Earth as goals and goods internal to natural species that are realized in activity. This is the characteristically Aristotelian idea of teleology.
ARK OF THE COVENANT: The box or vessel in which Israel transported the tablets containing the Law and in which dwelt the spirit of God during the Israelites wandering in the wilderness after their Exodus from Egypt. Some ancient manuscripts attribute powers to the ark. (Note: A version of this ancient vessel was characterized in the movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark.") ARMINIAN, ARMINIANISM:- A Reformation doctrine named after the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius, who challenged some of the teachings of Calvinism, especially Calvin's doctrine of predestination and foreordination. While still essentially Reformed and almost totally Calvinistic, Arminianism argues that God did not predestine who would be saved prior to the Creation, as Calvin taught. Arminiamism should not be confused or infused with the doctrine of Pelagianism, which teaches a system diametrically opposed to Calvinism at almost every point. Popular Arminianism places heavy stress on personal repentance and reformation of life through human choice.
ARMINIANISM: A school of soteriological thought in Protestant Christian theology founded by the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius. Arminianism is closely related to Calvinism (or Reformed theology), and the two systems share both history and many doctrines in common.
ASCETICISM: A practice in many religions of seeking to achieve holiness or liberation or enlightenment through denial of one's own needs and the suppression of one's desires. Typically involves vows and/or exercises of fasting, celibacy and poverty. Some ascetics also practice flaggelation.
ASCRIPTIVISM [2]: The view that human beings are to be held responsible for their actions even if determinism is true.
ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS (LAWS OF ASSOCIATION): The principles by which the mind connects ideas. Hume held the basic laws to be resemblance, closeness in time or place, and causality.
ASSOCIATIONALISM: A political project where "human welfare and liberty are both best served when as many of the affairs of a society as possible are managed by voluntary and democratically self-governing associations".[3] Associationalism "gives priority to freedom in its scale of values, but it contends that such freedom can only be pursued effectively if individuals join with their fellows"[3].
ATHEISM: The world view that says that God does not exist, or that embraces a world view without God, or that says that God is irrelevant to human life.
ATHEIST: Someone who believes that there is no God.
ATHEISTIC: Arguments against the existence of God, or one who does not believe in the existence of God.
ATMAN: Hindu term for the soul, which Hindus see as having no beginning or ending. The essential self.
ATOMISM: Generally, the view that the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts. Physically, the view that the univers is composed of independent, self-sufficient atoms (nothing more), and that a complete description of the universe might be given by sepcifiying the location and movements of all the atoms composing it. This view may also be put in phenomenalist terms (David Hume) or in logical terms (see extensional). The theory that reality is composed of simple and indivisible units (atoms) that are completely separate from and independent of one another. Democritus is the most notable ancient atomist. According to Leibniz monads are "the true atoms." Locke's corpuscular hypothesis is also a version of Atomism.
ATOMOS: Classical Greek for indivisible.
ATTRIBUTE: A feature or characteristic or property of something - as opposed to the thing or substance having the attribute, in which the attribute inheres.
AUTHENTIC: (Sartre) living authentically can have many meanings, but for Sartre, it means realizing that existence precedes essence, and one is responsible for one's actions and choices in the world. One must make one's self.
AUTHORITARIANISM: The term authoritarian is used to describe an organization or a state which enforces strong and sometimes oppressive measures against those in its sphere of influence, generally without attempts at gaining their consent and often not allowing feedback on its policies. In an authoritarian state, citizens are subject to state authority in many aspects of their lives, including many that other political philosophies would see as matters of personal choice. There are various degrees of authoritarianism; even very democratic and liberal states will show authoritarianism to some extent, for example in areas of national security.
AUTOCRACY: One person rule. Where the rulership is hereditary, the government in question is a "monarchy"; where nonhereditary, a "dictatorship." Contrast: democracy.
AUTOMATISM: Also called Surrealist automatism, to be more specific, is an artistic technique of spontaneous writing, drawing, or the like practiced without conscious aesthetic or moral self-censorship.
AXIOLOGY: Axiology is the broad study of ethics and aesthetics . That branch of philosophical inquiry regarding values, usually divided into the two categories of aesthetics and ethics. The study of value. What is to be valued? ( axios = value; logos = the study of) AXIOM- - A basic principle that cannot be deduced from other principles but is the starting point from which other statements are derived or deduced. A statement or assertion for which no proof or demonstration is required. Simply put, an axiom is a self-evident truth.
B.C.: Literally, before Christ or the Christian era. A Western calendar means of dating ancient and prehistoric time. See A.D., B.C.E.
B.C.E.: Scholarly adaptation of Western calendar to avoid reference to Christianity. Refers to time "before the common era." See A.D.
BAIANISM: A school of thought credited to the Roman Catholic theologian Michael Baius (1513-1589). It is related to Augustinianism, and is considered to be the immediate historical predecessor of Jansenism.
BAPTISM: A Christian sacrament, ordinance or ceremony marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community symbolizing the believer's burial with Christ and resurrection. Christians practice three forms of baptism: immersion, where the believer is totally submerged in a body or tank of water by a clergy person; sprinkling, where the believer is sprayed with water by the clergy person; and affusion, where the believer has water poured upon his head at a font by the clergy person. Many Protestant denominations are separated by the form of this ritual. Many Christian denominations, particularly Baptists, object to calling baptism a sacrament, preferring instead a term such as ceremony or ordinance, and insisting that there is no saving grace in the act itself apart from belief. Thus, many insist that candidates for baptism be accountable adults before making this public expression of an inner grace. (See Believer's Baptism.) The term is also used by non-Christians to describe ritual purification using water. Christian Science uses the term to denote purification by or submergence in Spirit.
BAPTIST: One who baptizes. When capitalized, the term generally refers to a member or adherent of an evangelical Protestant denomination marked by congregational polity and baptism by immersion of adult believers only, e.g., Southern Baptist or Conservative Baptist. Some Baptists eschew inclusion in the larger category of "Protestant," but at least since the 16th century the term "Protestant" has come to refer to any Christian group apart from Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy.
BAR MITZVAH: The Jewish initiatory ceremony recognizing a boy who reaches his 13th birthday as a bar mitzvah "son of the divine Law" who takes on the duties and responsibilities of religious life.
BARDO: Tibetan Buddhist concept for the realm of the dead or the place of passage from life.
BARDO THODOL: A Tibetan religious text popularly known as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," which many Buddhists consider a misleading translation, claiming a better English translation would be: "Liberation by Hearing During One's Existence in the Bardo." The Bardo Thodol (pronounced Thötröl) that is read to a person for forty-nine days after their death. It describes the series of visions that pass through the awareness of the deceased during that period. It helps them realize where they are, and keeps them focused during the transformation between bodies. According to tradition, the text is based on oral teachings by Padmasambhava and was recorded circa 760.
BAT MITZVAH: Jewish initiatory ceremony similar to a BAR MITZVAH for a young woman who reaches the religious responsibility age of 13. Literally, "a daughter of the divine Law." Some Jewish congregations do not recognize a bat mitzvah.
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.
BEG(GING) THE QUESTION: Unsound reasoning in which one needs already to have established the conclusion in order to be entitled to assert one of the premises offered in support of the conclusion one is trying to establish. Hence the argument assumes the truth of the very point one is trying to prove. ('My client did not steal this money because she is not a thief'). Compare CIRCULAR ARGUMENT. People on TV chat shows, etc., have lately taken to using 'begs the question' as equivalent to 'invites the question' or 'gives rise to the question'. Don't confuse this popular usage with the philosophical meaning of the phrase.
BEHAVIORALISM: (not to be confused with behaviorism (the learning theory), behavioralism is an approach in political science which seeks to provide an objective, quantified approach to explaining and predicting political behavior. It is associated with the rise of the behavioral sciences, modeled after the natural sciences.
BEHAVIORISM: Behaviorism is a psychological theory first put forth by John Watson (1925), and then expounded upon by B.F. Skinner. Attempting to answer the question of human behavior, proponents of this theory essentially hold that all human behavior is learned from one's surrounding context and environment. The view that psychology should, or must, confine itself to describing observable physical behavior. Analytic behaviorism expresses this view as a view about the meaning of psychological words (i.e. That all such words can, and are implicitly, definable in terms of observable human behavior). B. F. Skinner, the Harvard psychologist (Verbal Behavior, Walden Two, etc.) Is a psychological behaviorist. Gilbert Ryle might be considered an analytic behaviorist.

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