What is Philosophy?

"Know yourself." 

"Wisdom begins with wonder."

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

"I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."

—Socrates, ancient Greek philosopher


"And this pursuitcalled philosophyis an acquiring of knowledge."  

—Plato, ancient Greek philosopher


"All men, by nature, desire to know." 

"All men consider philosophy as concerned with first causes and principles."

—Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher


"The essence of philosophy is that one should so live that happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things." 

—Epictetus, ancient Greek philosopher


"Philosophy is the art of life." 

"Philosophy is the study of all virtue."

—Seneca, ancient Roman philosopher


"Wisdom (i.e., philosophy) is the science which considers first and universal causes; wisdom considers the first causes of all causes."  

—Thomas Aquinas, 13th century theologian-philosopher


"There are two kinds of truths: those of reasoning and those of fact. The truths of reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible; the truths of fact are contingent and their opposites are possible."  

—Gottfried Leibniz, 17th century German philosopher

"I think, therefore I am."  

—René  Descartes, 17th century French philosopher


"Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts." 

—Charles S. Peirce, 19th-20th century American philosopher


"Philosophy, beginning in wonder . . . is able to fancy everything different from what it is.  It sees the familiar as if it were strange, and the strange as if it were familiar.  It can take things up and lay them down again.  Its mind is full of air that plays round every subject.  It rouses us from our native dogmatic slumber and breaks up our caked prejudices. . . . A man with no philosophy in him is the most inauspicious and unprofitable of all possible social mates."  

—William James, 19th-20th century American philosopher


"The aim of philosophy is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together." 

—Wilfrid Sellars, 20th century American philosopher


"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." 

—Alfred North Whitehead, 20th century Anglo-American philosopher


"We feel that even when all possible scientific questions are answered, the problems of our life have not even begun to be touched." 

—Ludwig Wittgenstein, 20th century philosopher


"Philosophy is like trying to open a safe with a combination lock: each little adjustment of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place does the door open."  

—Ludwig Wittgenstein, 20th century philosopher