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Unit 1 - Philosophy and Its Nature

Unit 1: Philosophy and Its Nature
1.1 Philosophy: Etymology and Meaning
The term Philosophy was introduced and made more popular to the whole world before
as the “Love of Wisdom.” Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher, derived the term from two Greek
words: philos that means “love” and sophia that means “wisdom.” Because of this root word
definition, the early Greek philosophers enjoyed so much fame in their times. In fact, a lot of them
successfully became politicians while others were appointed as advisors to the kings, thinking
that they were great troubleshooters in the field of politics. Likewise, some of them laid down the
foundation of other scientific endeavors, which the present times encounter and rediscover. In
short, philosophy is not to be taken as a dead discipline, as what the present generation might be
thinking, because of its being so instrumental in ushering the present.
However, this system of human knowledge we now call philosophy has continually been
modified by certain philosophers in order to respond to the challenges of time. Although, Thomas
of Aquin was highly respectful of the works of his predecessors in the field of philosophical
investigation, he thought of philosophy in a slightly different way. This is evidently shown when
he redefined it through the so-called classical definition of philosophy. This classical definition
states that philosophy “is the science of beings which deals with formal reasons, causes, and
principles knowable through the aid of human reason alone” (Bittle, 1950: 7). This definition by St.
Thomas Aquinas is now accepted as the real definition of the term philosophy. Thus, the essence
of the study of philosophy is basically revealed by such definition of Thomas of Aquin. Such real
definition of the term philosophy is the one which this manual will use in formally dealing with
this scientific endeavor.
Nature of Philosophy
Philosophy is a science. As a science, Philosophy is based on a systematic body of knowledge
derived through the process of rational demonstration. With this description, philosophy is
thought of as a science since it is a systematized body of human knowledge supported by facts
and verifiable principles.
Philosophy deals with formal reasons, causes, and principles. By “reasons,” it is that by which
a thing is known and can be understood. By “causes,” refers to that which contribute in some
positive manner toward the production of a thing. In addition, by “principles” it is that from which
something proceeds. In simple words, Philosophy understands and explains the fundamental
essences of things.
Philosophy is knowable through the aid of human reason alone. Philosophy as a science deals
with the study of all things with their ultimate reasons, causes and principles based on the
reasoning power of the intellect.
Object of Philosophy
In any field of study, it is imperative to first uncover its object and scope. Thus, the subject
matter of the field of study of study as well as the special interests of the subject matter is dealt
with in the Object of the Study. Here we have the Material Object of a science as the subject matter
cover of the study. Since Philosophy covers all things, all things are the material objects of
The Formal Object of a science is what is primarily considered by the science as the special
interest of the study in the subject matter and by the reason of which it deals with its subject
matter. In the case of Philosophy, the formal object is the formal reasons and formal principles of
things (Piñon, 1995: 3). Hence, it can be noted now that through the material object and formal
object of philosophy we can determine the scope of the study and its limitations in dealing with
the object of such investigation. Likewise, the real definition of the term philosophy is made
clearer through them.
Division of Philosophy
As can be observed, Philosophy under the aspect of its ultimate reasons, causes, and
principles treats the world in all its forms and manifestations. To avoid confusion, Philosophy
treats the different forms of being under different headings. This leads to the classical division
of philosophy into a number of departments.
A. Ontology or Metaphysics. This is the study of beings in themselves. Oftentimes known
as the most pervasive form of philosophical inquiry due to its vast coverage of study
such as the nature, attributes, and principles of beings in their general states. In fact, it
is here that a student in philosophy can get a very basic overview of classical philosophy
as a whole. Hence, an in-depth comprehension of this subject will result in a very
positive approach to other fields of philosophy.
B. Cosmology. This is an inquiry on the physical world and the ultimate principles of
bodily natures. In this division of the study of philosophy, the students will certainly
understand that certain things exist because of certain objects, which may not even be
observable like time, space, energy, and force. These things explain why there are
movements, material objects existing in a definite state and condition, and the
temporariness of things that depend on the existence of force and energy.
C. Theodicy. This is the study of the essence and existence of God. In this division,
philosophy deals with the divine reality without recourse to theological foundations,
but simply with the aid only of pure human reason in order to arrive at conclusive
statements that prove divine essence and existence. Here, there is a widespread use of
the five proofs of divine existence of Thomas Aquinas.
D. Ethics or Moral Philosophy. This is an inquiry on the nature and morality human
conduct. Through this study, philosophers argue that man is a responsible agent of his
actions, which even makes him more human when he acts with definite deliberation
and freedom. However, this study also proves that sometimes man is incapable of acting
with knowledge and freedom because of their absence in an act or uncontrollable
defects making him either less responsible or not responsible for the consequences of
his said acts. Nevertheless, the overriding concern of the study is the rectitude of human
acts if such acts are done without conformity with existing norms of reason or morality.
E. Political or Social Philosophy. This is the study of the ultimate foundation of the state.
This subject is very much useful in the study of political science due to its consideration
of the different theories evolved by political philosophers most particularly of the
modern periods.
F. Epistemology or Theory of Knowledge. This is an inquiry on the validity of human
knowledge. The certainty and extent of human knowledge is investigated in this
G. Aesthetics or Philosophy of Beauty. This is an inquiry on the deeper understanding of
beauty in things. In reality, this is the shortest work of Aristotle wherein he emphasized
the dominance of subjectivity over objectivity in judging things of beauty. Hence, it is
said the “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.” Still, however, it should be noted that
the mind considers beauty as partly subjective and partly objective since in philosophy
rational judgment should contain objectivity.
H. Axiology or Philosophy of Values. This philosophical discipline studies the concept of
Values. Closely attached to ethics, it offers information on how one can determine
action that is good, acceptable, and desirable. Actions, which are determined as
desirable, serve as a guide and motivate man to perform a certain action.
I. Philosophy of Man. This is the study of what man is and how to be human. The approach
in the study is a result of combining two well-known philosophical disciplines such as
phenomenology and existentialism. Hence, this is practically phenomenological
J. Rational Psychology. This philosophy explores on the principle of man’s life. Here, the
concern is the treatment of the incorporeal principle of man, which is the soul. Since, it
is given that there are three grades of life existing in the world; it is also acceptable to
say that there are practically three different existing souls, which are the sources or
principles of life in this world.
K. Thanatology or Philosophy of Life. The philosophical discipline that explores on the
meaning of Death and the importance of the concept of life. Explains life as an
opportunity and death as a real-life situation and destiny humanity cannot avoid
L. Logic. This is the study of correct inferential thinking and valid reasoning. The essential
issue in this study is attainment of an understandable and valid conclusion of the whole
process of reasoning. Such is the concern of the subsequent chapters to this one.
1.2 Logic and Its Nature
Etymology and Meaning of Logic
Logic is derived from the Greek word logos, which is related to another Greek term logike,
which means thought. Henceforth, its use is already confined to the study of matters pertaining to
thought. Such etymological definition is quite near to the basic meaning of Logic. However, Aristotle
lays the foundation of Logic when he wrote the “Organon,” a six-volume treatise concerning valid
inferential thinking.
As defined, logic refers to the art and science of correct inferential thinking. By inferential
thinking, we mean the process of drawing a reasoned conclusion from related premises. Likewise,
such thinking process may refer to a valid rational demonstration. Thus, logic involves the principle
of inferences and their corresponding rules that serve as practical guides to achieve correct reasoning.
Logic is a science since it is a body of systematized knowledge with laws and principles
governing the inferential process. Similarly, it is an art because of its use of patterns of reasoning that
facilitates the demonstration and achievement of the conclusion with ease and freedom from error.
Besides, this is purely an art because this makes the mind operate by making or producing something
such as a term, proposition, and a whole syllogism in comparison to sciences, which simply discover
things that already exist in nature. However, the mind in its process of producing something does add
anything to the objective existence of the thing considered, it is purely a matter of the mind. In fact,
other authors call this as a liberal art because of its aim at achieving the truth for the perfection of the
mind; while non–liberal arts are those that simply discover things for the perfection or betterment of
such things.
Material and Formal Object of Logic
The Material Object of a science is the subject matter of the study. In the case of logic, its subject
matter covers the concepts, propositions, and syllogisms. Hence, the material object is taken
objectively as mental constructs expressed in the tangible forms of terms, propositions, and
The Formal Object of a science is its special concern and particular interest in dealing with the
material object. In logic, the formal object is the inferential relation existing among terms and
Importance of Logic
As many authors have already attested, man by nature is capable of reasoning since he has
been endowed with a natural aptitude known as common sense. This simply means that man is a
natural born logician. In other words, every person who is in his right use of reason is practically one
who does not need so much interference from external forces to determine for himself what he
intends to do. This capacity, which makes man a natural born logician, is sometimes called in simpler
term as “common sense” or ‘natural logic”. It should be noted, however, that common sense is
inherently limited in its application to concrete human experience. Simply put it that common sense
cannot go beyond what it is not capable of doing such as judgment on the validity of philosophical
arguments. With this, there is what we call philosophical logic, which can bridge the gap between
common sense and certain philosophical issues, which it is incapable of dealing with. Thus,
philosophical logic is the solution to this limitation of nature in natural logic.
Division of Logic
Logic is simply divisible into different phases of study according to the order of mental
Mental Act
Mental Expression
External Sign
Logical Issue
As shown in the table, the first act of the mind is apprehension whose mental expression is an
idea. This explains the reality about the formation of an idea, which is the result of abstraction by the
mind from a concrete object of knowledge, and what has been abstracted is represented in the mind.
The object of representation in the mind is called an idea. On the other hand, an idea is inherently
intangible and is exclusive to the mind only. The only way through which it can be known by others
aside from the thinker is using a sign (the one that leads us to the knowledge of another thing that
exists) whose nature is external to the mind or an external sign. Here, the only appropriate external
sign of an idea is a term (the one that stands for a mental representation of a thing). In the first act of
the mind, the main question here is for what purpose should the idea, which is represented, by the
term serve. This is the so-called logical issue behind the first act of the mind (judgment). The answer
is, an idea is a raw material in the second act of the mind. However, we must always remember that
before the judgment of the mind occurs, the single idea in the mind is divided into two by the mind
itself to give judgment to occur. This is done by a process known as mental division of an idea.
With judgment, the two ideas, which resulted from the mental division, will be compared with
each other and after comparison; the mind either approves or disapproves the validity of the relation
of one idea with the other. This shows that if the mental divisions create two related ideas, the mind
will approve them as validly related, otherwise they are invalidly related. Here, the main question is
if the two ideas compared are really related with each other. The answer is either affirmative, which
shows approval, or negative, which shows denial. Now, after judgment is made, the mind must move
on to reasoning.
This is the final act of the mind called reasoning, which is simply a reformulation of another
statement of judgment related to the original judgment. In other words, this is a second or a third
judgment, which will culminate the philosophical issue of inference. Here, it is no longer ideas, which
are being compared, but statements of judgment. The result is what we call an argument whose logical
issue is inference. Practically, inference is the one being resolved in the conclusion of any syllogism.
As it is said by some authors, the very heart of any syllogism is inference.
Formal Logic and Material Logic
The study of Logic, being a system itself within a bigger system of the whole philosophical
investigation, has two forms of valid demonstration that can be construed as two complementary
1. Formal Logic. This part of logic deals with the conceptual patterns of structures of correct
or valid inference. In simpler terms, this is the aspect of the study, which deals the
appropriateness of the form of any valid syllogism, and its validity is called “formal
sequence”. In reality this is the focus of this module. Other books refer to this as Minor
Logic, which is concerned with valid inferential thinking.
Material Logic. This is the part of logic that deals with the kind and nature of matter
(thought content) that are used in the different parts of the rational demonstration. In this
aspect, the basis of a valid argument is no longer the form or any pattern of correct
thinking, but the nature of the thing already. It is here that proof and evidence for valid
human knowledge is dealt with. Other authors gave their own interpretations by
identifying this study with science on the validity of human knowledge and certainty
known as Major Logic (Epistemology).
Deductive and Inductive Logic
This division is found in the 3rd Part of Logic. The said division is given a brief description
below such as:
1. Deductive Logic
The inference is achieved starting from Universal to Particular.
2. Inductive Logic
The inference here is achieved starting from the Individual to the Universal. Other
authors contend that even if reasoning proceeds from Particular, and not necessarily
Individual, the form of inference is already Inductive