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Philosophy is the love of wisdom, the search for knowledge about the world (scientia) and how to act in practice (phronesis). Civilizations tend to divide philosophy into their own peculiar domains. There is no universally accepted structure of philosophy or complete philosophical system. Eastern philosophy focuses on how to live, the Roman subject of ethics, with some degree of explanation for the natural world. Yet they all separate philosophy from the practice of developing technology (techne). Western philosophy, in the Roman tradition, is by far the most systematic in its treatment of knowledge and wisdom.
Philosophy as a whole has five varieties. First, Western Philosophy is that of Rome and its colonies. As the predominant system, it is followed as well by the Islamic Caliphate, the Nords and many Zulu. Second, Eastern Philosophy came from China and is most popular in the Mongol and Japanese empires. Third. the native Columbians of the north have their own theo-philosophical traditions that are fully integrated into their animist state religion. Fourth, the Maya follow a philosophy of their own called Mesoan Philosophy by Romans. It is heavily focused on science and mathematics and has made few strides into strict metaphysics. Fifth, the Inca have a philosophy rooted in the communal nature of their society and influenced by their religious views. Each of these has its own schools, many of which fail to agree on various issues but there are uniting threads within every one of them.
The philosophy that is most popular in the modern world is Western or Roman philosophy. Its appeal is in its completeness, or if one wishes to be less generous, its extensiveness. Nearly every topic or issue confronted by other cultures is analyzed to the bone in Roman society. Roman thinkers have formulated theses on God, Duty, Matter, Mind, Souls, Change, Free Will, Life, the Universe and everything in between. The Western canon of philosophy comprises over 10 million books on a variety of topics.
Branches of Philosophy
The separation of philosophical problems into domains of discussion is a common practice. Every cultural system does this in one form or another. Amazingly, different cultures created strikingly similar groupings, especially at a more general level. All civilizations agree that there is a striking difference between prescriptive and descriptive philosophy, and they rightly separate one from the other. Thus the Romans have their Ethica and Physica, and the Orient its Wuchang (Virtues) and Daoism (Way of Nature) as central domains. Logic and rational thinking is at the base of most present philosophies. Only the Columbians favor a religious dogma on natural and ethical problems over logical demonstration and empirical observation.
All philosophia in the Roman tradition is grounded in Logika, the science of the necessary rules of thinking. The Romans apply logic in the derivation of axiomatic systems for their descriptive and prescriptive sciences, the study of these fundamental systems are respectively Metaphysica Naturalis and Metaphysica Moralis. Essentially, a metaphysician inquires into knowledge and truth only insofar as they are either descriptive or prescriptive.
For the Romans, metaphysics begins with a statement of the boundaries of human knowledge in descriptive and prescriptive domains. A necessity for establishing a clear separation of what problems are answerable by humans and which are unanswerable is a healthy critique of human faculties. This preparatory scheme for philosophy was engaged centuries ago in an attempt to dispel the failed attempts to create rational foundations for sublime ideas like those of the divine or eternal life. Criticism of these rational grounds revealed a more clear structure to human knowledge and permitted the deduction of logical principles that became the foundation of metaphysics.
Where human knowledge was bounded in its descriptive or speculative use, the domain of theoretical science was established; in its prescriptive or practical use was found the domain of moral science.
The branches of theoretical or natural science are Physica, the science of entities that change; Mathematica, the science of unchanging entities insofar as they pertain to changing ones; and Ontologia, the science of entities insofar as they exist. Those of moral science are Ethica, the science of how to live well; Politicus, the science of how to govern well; and Oeconomica, the science of how people consume. This is the traditional Western hierarchy of knowledge (episteme). All knowledge is rooted in logic, develops in the domains of natural and moral science through metaphysics, and is generated through the several departmental sciences.
Physics consists of seven primary branches, viz. mechanics, chemistry, biology, vitalogy, ecology, anthropology and history. Within these branches are numerous subdisciplines that form a spectrum from absolutely fundamental quantum physics to the highly integrated geohistory. Ontology is split into reology, cosmology and noology. Next, mathematics divides according to what Romans consider the grounding principles of mathematical truth, the form of human perception, our intuitions of space-time. Therefore, the most general domains are arithmetrica, the science of our measures of succession; geometrica, the science of our measures of extension; and linialogia, the science of measure and quantity itself (set theory).
Economics splits into three heavily interrelated disciplines: peregroeconomica, for international consumption of resources and trade; magnoeconomica, for national consumption of resources and trade; and parvoeconomica, for consumption and exchange on an individual scale. Political scientists likewise study material that is deeply intertwined. Its vague disciplines are jurisprudentia, the science of proper legislation and litigation; res politica, the science of proper exercise of sovereign power; aequopoliticus, the comparative science of states; politicus rationalis, the science of statecraft and general politics; and diplomacy, the science of competition and cooperation between states. Lastly, ethics can be subdivided into psychology, the science of duty, the science of virtue, bioethics, the science of action and rhetoric.
Grounds of Knowledge
In seeking to provide explanations, philosophers pursue the grounds of our belief and knowledge. Where there are no grounds, there is only opinion and where the grounds are sufficient, there is finally knowledge. The statesman and philosopher Cicero invented terms designating the origins of our beliefs. A belief grounded on experience or observation is a posteriori while that which originates before experience is a priori. While knowledge gained from experience is attributable to the senses, a priori knowledge stems from the constitution of the mind. Millennia of contemplating the origins of our beliefs has uncovered no other sources of knowledge. For clarity, it should be mentioned that not all a priori knowledge need come from the original nature of the mind - this sort of cognition's existence may even be doubted. Some things known prior to being experienced are more mundane and contain a mixture of concepts whose source is the senses and experience. For example, that my house will fall when I remove its foundations can no doubt be done prior to actually trying this but surely the notion of unsupported objects falling under gravity could only be formed from experience or instruction. For this reason, we may also like to distinguish empirical knowledge from pure knowledge by the former's conditioning on the senses for its justification and the latter's reliance only on how the mind operates.
Much of knowledge can be distilled into statements of fact or relations of ideas that take the form of judgements. In general, a judgement expresses a subject-predicate relationship by means of a copula as in the statement "All bodies are extended." 'All bodies' is the subject of which 'being extended' is predicated. Likewise, "God exists", "I like ice cream" and "Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon" are judgements. On the one hand, these statements need internal consistency - the lack of any contradictions - for the mere possibility of being true. Some of them, like the first judgement about bodies, can be true under this criterion alone. Judgements of this sort are true by definition and are designated analytic. Where something more than mere consistency is required to be true or false, the judgement is synthetic.
A judgement is an explicit belief, either that something is the case or that an idea means something. Where this true on account of a given reason, the belief is true and justified. In short, knowledge is a True Justified Belief as the ancient philosopher Plato asserted. However, pointing to the truth and justification of a belief is not easy in practice because the manner in which the belief is justified can vary and sometimes provided cases of what could be called knowledge under the TJB definition but is really a lucky guess.
Archaedavincus presented examples against Plato's treatment of knowledge almost a millennium later. His example takes the form of a story: The Emperor has hundreds of slaves working in his palace. He knows the sound of a slave cleaning his throne with cloth, as he has often heard the sound and seen the cleaning together. One time he hears this familiar noise and concludes that a slave is cleaning his throne. But he looks into the throne room and sees no slave and only a peculiar animal brought to impress him that is making the exact sound that he just heard. It seems that his judgement that 'A slave is cleaning the throne' was false. Later that day he relates to his wife, the Empress of Rome, what occurred but she assures him that at that time a slave was cleaning the throne, but only the back of the throne. So the Emperor's belief was true and justified by a sound that should indicate its truth, only the noise came from an unrelated source. Surely, Archaedavincus asserts, such a coincidence is not knowledge and yet it is true justified belief. Therefore, Plato's definition is incomplete or invalid.