Plain Background    Philosopher Pix

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This is a list of topics relating to philosophy that end in "-ism"

Contents:A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Absolutism - The position that in a particular domain of thought, all statements in that domain are either absolutely true or absolutely false: none is true for some cultures or eras while false for other cultures or eras. These statements are called absolute truths. A common reaction by those who newly criticize absolutism is the absolute truth statement: Absolute truths do not exist.

Enlightened absolutism - A term used to describe the actions of absolute rulers who were influenced by the Enlightenment (eighteenth and early nineteenth century Europe).

Moral absolutism - The position that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act.

Political absolutism - A political theory which argues that one person should hold all power.

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, and is in part a hyponym of nihilism.

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.

Aestheticism - Another name for the Aesthetic movement, a loosely defined movement in art and literature in later nineteenth 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.

Agnosticism - The philosophical view that the truth values of certain claims ? particularly theological claims regarding the existence of God, gods, or deities ? are unknown, inherently unknowable, or incoherent, and therefore, (some agnostics may go as far to say) irrelevant to life. Agnosticism, in both its strong (explicit) and weak (implicit) forms, is necessarily a non-atheist and non-theist position, though an agnostic person may also be either an atheist, a theist, or one who endorses neither position.

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.

Strong agnosticism - Also referred to as explicit agnosticism and positive agnosticism, it is the view that the evidence in the universe is such that it is impossible for humans to know whether or not any deities exist.

Weak agnosticism - The position that the evidence is such that the existence or nonexistence of deities is currently unknown, but is not necessarily unknowable. Also called implicit agnosticism, empirical agnosticism, and negative agnosticism.

Altruism - The belief that people have a moral obligation to serve others or the "greater good"; term coined by Auguste Comte. Generally opposed to self-interest or egoism.

Anarchism - In politics, any of a number of views and movements that advocate the elimination of rulership or government. Other than being opposed to the state, there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold. Compare and contrast libertarianism.

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.

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 - 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.

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.

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.

Aristotelianism - Tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. Sometimes contrasted by critics with the rationalism and idealism (because itself empiricist and scientific) 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.

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 - Denotes a life which is characterised by refraining from worldly pleasures (austerity). Those who practice ascetic lifestyles often perceive their practices as virtuous and pursue them to achieve greater spirituality. In a more cynical context, ascetic may connote some form of self-mortification, ritual punishment of the body or harsh renunciation of pleasure. However the word certainly does not necessarily imply a negative connotation.

Associationalism - Is 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". 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".

Atheism - A condition of being without theistic beliefs; an absence of belief in the existence of gods, thus contrasting with theism. This definition includes both those who assert that there are no gods and those who have no beliefs at all regarding the existence of gods. However, narrower definitions often only qualify the former as atheism, the latter falling under the more general (but rarely used) term nontheism.

Agnostic atheism - The philosophy 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’.

Strong atheism - The philosophical position that deities do not exist. It is a form of explicit atheism, meaning that it consciously rejects theism. Some strong atheists also claim that the existence of any and all gods is logically impossible. Also called positive atheism, hard atheism and gnostic atheism. It should be noted that a strong atheist also fits the definition of a weak atheist, but that the reverse is not necessarily true: a strong atheist believes there is a lack or absence of evidence for justifying a belief in God or gods, but a weak atheist does not necessarily deny the possibility of God or god(s) existence.

Weak atheism - Disbelief in the existence of God or gods, without a commitment to the necessary non-existence of God or gods. Also referred to as negative atheism or implicit atheism. The weak atheist generally gives a broad definition of atheism as a lack or absence of evidence justifying a belief in God or gods, which defines atheism as a range of positions that entail non-belief, unjustified belief, doubt, or denial of theism.

Atomism - The theory that all the objects in the universe are composed of very small, indestructible elements. (This is the case for the Western [i.e., Greek] theories of atomism. Buddhists also have well-developed theories of atomism, and which involve momentary, or non-eternal, atoms, that flash in and out of existence).

Social atomism - The point-of-view that individuals rather than social institutions and values are the proper subject of analysis since all properties of institutions and values merely accumulate from the strivings of individuals.

Logical atomism - Bertrand Russell developed logical atomism in an attempt to identify the atoms of thought, the pieces of thought that cannot be divided into smaller pieces of thought.

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.

Automatism - Or 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.


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.

Behaviorism - (not to be confused with behavioralism of political science) Is an approach to psychology based on the proposition that behavior can be researched scientifically without recourse to inner mental states. It is a form of materialism, denying any independent significance for the mind. Its significance for psychological treatment has been profound, making it one of the pillars of pharmacological therapy.

Buddhism - A dharmic religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. The basic teachings of Buddhism have to do with the nature of suffering or dissatisfaction (dukkha) and its avoidance through ethical principles (the Eightfold Path). Buddhism originated in India, and is today largely followed in East Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Thailand. Buddhism is divided into different sects and movements, of which the largest are the Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana.


Capitalism - An economic system in which all or most of the means of production are privately owned and operated (usually through employing wage labour, and for profit), and in which the investment of capital and the production, distribution and prices of commodities and services are determined mainly in a free market. Capitalism has also been called laissez-faire economy, free market economy, free enterprise system, economic liberalism, and economic individualism.

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.

Careerism - The desire to advance one’s own career as a sole aim in life, often at the expense of personal and social growth or development.

Cartesianism - A philosophy based on the ideas and works of Ren Descartes.

Christianism - Another name for Christianity, the monotheistic religion recognizing Jesus Christ as its founder and central figure. With more than two billion adherents, or about one-third of the total world population, it is the largest world religion. Its origins are intertwined with Judaism, with which it shares much sacred lore, including the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible). Christianity is sometimes termed an Abrahamic religion, along with Judaism and Islam.

Classicism - In the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicist seeks to emulate. Classicism is usually contrasted with romanticism; the art of classicism typically seeks to be formal, restrained, and Apollonian (nothing in excess) rather than Dionysiac (excess), in Friedrich Nietzsche’s opposition. It can also refer to the other periods of classicism. In theater, Classicism was developed by 17th century French playwrights from what they judged to be the rules of Greek classical theater, including the Classical unities of time, place and action.

Cognitivism - In ethics, cognitivism is the philosophical view that ethical sentences express propositions, and hence are capable of being true or false. See Cognitivism (ethics). More generally, cognitivism with respect to any area of discourse is the position that sentences used in that discourse are cognitive, that is, are meaningful and capable of being true or false. In psychology, cognitivism is the approach to understanding the mind which argues that mental function can be understood as the ‘internal’ rule bound manipulation of symbols. See Cognitivism (psychology).

Coherentism - There are two distinct types of coherentism. One refers to the coherence theory of truth, which restricts true sentences to those that cohere with some specified set of sentences. Someone’s belief is true just in the case that it is coherent with all or most of their other beliefs. Usually, coherence is taken to imply something stronger than mere consistency. Statements that are comprehensive and meet the requirements of Occam’s razor are usually to be preferred. The second type coherentism is belief in the coherence theory of justification ? an epistemological theory opposing foundationalism and offering a solution to the regress argument. In this epistemological capacity, it is a theory about how belief can be justified.

Collectivism - A theoretical or practical emphasis on the group, as opposed to (and seen by many of its opponents to be at the expense of) the individual. Some psychologists define collectivism as a syndrome of attitudes and behaviors based on the belief that the basic unit of survival lies within a group, not the individual. Collectivists typically hold that that the "greater good" of the group, is more important than the good of any particular individual who is one part of that larger organization. Some collectivists argue that the individual incidentally serves his own interests by working for the benefit of the group.

Communalism - Outside of South Asia, communalism, describes a broad range of social movements and social theories which are in some way centered upon the community. Communalism can take the form of communal living or communal property, among others. Communalism is sometimes said to put the interests of the community above the interests of the individual, but this is usually only done on the principle that the community exists for the benefit of the individuals who participate in it, so the best way to serve the interests of the individual is through the interests of the community. Many of the communalist ideas today come from Marcus Acquinas, an early communalist philosopher.

Communism - A theoretical system of social organization and a political movement based on common ownership of the means of production. As a political movement, communism seeks to establish a classless society. A major force in world politics since the early 20th century, modern communism is generally associated with The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, according to which the capitalist profit-based system of private ownership is replaced by a communist society in which the means of production are communally owned, such as through a gift economy. Often this process is said initiated by the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie (see Marxism), passes through a transitional period marked by the preparatory stage of socialism (see Leninism). Pure communism has never been implemented, it remains theoretical: communism is, in Marxist theory, the end-state, or the result of state-socialism. The word is now mainly understood to refer to the political, economic, and social theory of Marxist thinkers, or life under conditions of Communist party rule.

Communitarianism - A group of related but distinct philosophies that began in the late 20th century, opposing aspects of liberalism and capitalism while advocating phenomena such as civil society. Not necessarily hostile to liberalism in the contemporary American sense of the word, communitarianism rather has a different emphasis, shifting the focus of interest toward communities and societies and away from the individual. The question of priority (individual or community) often has the largest impact in the most pressing ethical questions: health care, abortion, multiculturalism, hate speech, and so on.

Compatibilism - Also known as "soft determinism" and championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. According to Hume, free will should not be understood as an absolute ability to have chosen differently under exactly the same inner and outer circumstances. Rather, it is a hypothetical ability to have chosen differently if one had been differently psychologically disposed by some different beliefs or desires. Hume also maintains that free acts are not uncaused (or mysteriously self-caused as Kant would have it) but caused by our choices as determined by our beliefs, desires, and by our characters. While a decision making process exists in Hume’s determinism, this process is governed by a causal chain of events.

Comtism - Auguste Comte’s positivistic philosophy that metaphysics and theology should be replaced by a hierarchy of sciences from mathematics at the base to sociology at the top.

Conceptualism - A doctrine in philosophy intermediate between nominalism and realism, that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality.

Confucianism - An East Asian ethical and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of the early Chinese sage Confucius. It is a complex system of moral, social, political, and religious thought which had tremendous influence on the history of Chinese civilization down to the 21st century. Some have considered it to have been the "state religion" of imperial China.

Neo-Confucianism - A form of Confucianism that was primarily developed during the Song dynasty, as a response by the Confucians to the dominance of the Taoists and Buddhists. Neo-Confucians such as Zhu Xi recognized that the Confucian system of the time did not include a thoroughgoing metaphysical system and so devised one. There were many competing views within the Neo-Confucian community, but overall, a system emerged that resembled both Buddhist and Daoist thought of the time and some of the ideas expressed in the Book of Changes (I Ching) as well as other yin yang theories associated with the Taiji symbol (Taijitu). A well known Neo-Confucian motif is paintings of Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu all drinking out of the same vinegar jar, paintings associated with the slogan "The three teachings are one!"

New Confucianism - A new movement of Confucianism since the twentieth century applying Confucianism to modern times. Not to be confused with Neo-Confucianism.

Consequentialism - The belief that what ultimately matters in evaluating actions or policies of action are the consequences that result from choosing one action or policy rather than the alternative.

Constructivism - The view that reality, or at least our knowledge of it, is a value-laden subjective construction rather than a passive acquisition of objective features.

Consumerism - Attachment to materialistic values or possessions.

Contextualism - A collection of views which emphasize the context in which an action, utterance or expression occurs, and argues that, in some important respect, the action, utterance or expression can only be understood within that context. Contextualist views hold that philosophically controversial concepts, such as "meaning P", "knowing that P", "having a reason to A", and possibly even "being true" or "being right" only have meaning relative to a specified context. Some philosophers hold that context-dependence may lead to relativism; nevertheless, contextualist views are increasingly popular within philosophy.

Conventionalism - Philosophical attitude that fundamental principles of a certain kind are grounded on (explicit or implicit) agreements in society, rather than on external reality. Although this attitude is commonly held with respect to the rules of grammar and the principles of etiquette, its application to the propositions of law, ethics, science, mathematics, and logic is more controversial.

Cosmotheism - Synonym for pantheism (see theism, below).

Creationism - Also referred to as creation theology is the belief that humans, life, the Earth, and the universe were created by a supreme being or deity’s supernatural intervention. The intervention may be seen either as an act of creation from nothing (ex nihilo) or the emergence of order from pre-existing chaos.

Day-age creationism - A type of Old Earth creationism, is an effort to reconcile the literal Genesis account of Creation with modern scientific theories on the age of the Universe, the Earth, life, and humans. It holds that the six days referred to in the Genesis account of creation are not ordinary 24-hour days, but rather are much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years). The Genesis account is then interpreted as an account of the process of cosmic evolution, providing a broad base on which any number of theories and interpretations are built. Proponents of the Day-Age Theory can be found among theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists.

Evolutionary creationism - less commonly known as evolutionary creationism, is the general opinion that some or all classical religious teachings about God and creation are compatible with some or all of the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. Theistic evolution is not a theory in the scientific sense, but a particular view about how the science of evolution relates to some religious interpretations. In this way, theistic evolution supporters can be seen as one of the groups who deny the conflict thesis regarding the relationship between religion and science; that is, they hold that religious teachings about creation and scientific theories of evolution need not be contradictory.

Gap creationism - also called Restitution creationism or Ruin-Reconstruction, are terms used to describe a particular set of Christian beliefs about the creation of the Universe and the origin of man. The concept of the Gap Theory is widely thought to have been promulgated by William Buckland and Thomas Chalmers in the early 1800s, though some adherents maintain that it can be traced back to biblical times. Certainly it became quite popular when it was promoted by the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909.

Old Earth creationism - is a variant of the creationist view of the origin of the universe and life on Earth. As a theory of origins it is typically more compatible with mainstream scientific thought on the issues of geology, cosmology and the age of the Earth, in comparison to Young Earth creationism. However, it still generally takes the accounts of creation in Genesis more literally than theistic evolution (or evolutionary creationism). Old Earth creationism is in fact an umbrella term for a number of perspectives, including Gap creationism and Progressive creationism.

Young Earth creationism - is the religious belief that the Earth and life on Earth were created by a direct act of God dating between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. Its adherents are those Christians, Jews and Muslims who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking the Hebrew text of Genesis as a literal account. Some adherents believe that existing evidence in the natural world today supports a strict interpretation of scriptural creation as historical fact, or that the scientific evidence supporting evolution, geological uniformitarianism, and other theories which are at odds with a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account, are either flawed or misinterpreted.

Omphalos creationism - The omphalos hypothesis was named after the title of an 1857 book, Omphalos by Philip Henry Gosse, in which Gosse argued that in order for the world to be "functional", God must have created the Earth with mountains and canyons, trees with growth rings, Adam and Eve with hair, fingernails, and navels (omphalos is Greek for "navel"), and that therefore no evidence that we can see of the presumed age of the earth and universe can be taken as reliable. The idea has seen some revival in the twentieth century by some modern creationists, who have extended the argument to light that appears to originate in far-off stars and galaxies, although many other creationists reject this explanation (and also believe that Adam and Eve had no navels). Others argue against Uniformitarianism and suggest that creation was accelerated through all intermediate stages in an abbreviated period; such that an old and new earth would be indistinguishable.

Cynicism - Was originally the philosophy of a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics (main article), founded by Antisthenes. Nowadays the word generally describes the opinions of those inclined to disbelieve in human sincerity, in virtue, or in altruism: individuals who maintain that only self-interest motivates human behavior. A modern cynic typically has a highly contemptuous attitude towards social norms, especially those which serve more of a ritualistic purpose than a practical one, and will tend to dismiss a substantial proportion of popular beliefs, conventional morality and accepted wisdom as irrelevant or obsolete nonsense.


Darwinism - A scientific doctrine first presented by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book The Origin of Species. It states that the variety of life found on Earth is due to the process of Evolution driven by the mechanism of Natural Selection. It is to be contrasted with Creationism and Intelligent Design. There is a lively debate as to whether or not Darwinism is compatible with any, all or some religions.

Deconstructionism - School and a set of methods of textual criticism which aim at understanding the assumptions and ideas that form the basis for thought and belief. Also called "deconstruction", its central concern is a radical critique of the metaphysics of the Western philosophical tradition, in which it identifies a logicentrism or "metaphysics of presence" which holds that speech-thought (the logos) is a privileged, ideal, and self-present entity, through which all discourse and meaning are derived. This logocentrism is the primary target of deconstruction.

Defeatism - Defeatism is acceptance and content with defeat without struggle. In everyday use, defeatism has negative connotation, and is often linked to treason and pessimism. The term is commonly used in the context of war: a soldier can be a defeatist if he or she refuses to fight because he or she thinks that the fight will be lost for sure or that it is not worth fighting for some other reason. The term can also be used in other fields, like politics, sports, psychology and philosophy.

Deism - The view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. Deists reject both organized and revealed religion and maintain that reason is the essential element in all knowledge. For a "rational basis for religion" they refer to the cosmological argument (first cause argument), the teleological argument (argument from design), and other aspects of what was called natural religion. Deism has become identified with the classical belief that God created but does not intervene in the world, though this is not a necessary component of deism.

Pandeism - A type of deism that combines the deistic belief in a rationally determined, non-intervening God with the idea of pantheism (under theism, below) of God being identical to the Universe.

Deontologism - Ethical theory considered solely on duty and rights, where one has an unchanging moral obligation to abide by a set of defined principles. Thus, the ends of any action never justify the means in this ethical system. If someone were to do their moral duty, then it would not matter if it had negative consequences. Therefore, consequentialism is the philosophical antithesis of this theory.

Descriptivism - Also called the Descriptivist theory of names, is a view of the nature of the meaning and reference of proper names generally attributed to Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. The theory consists essentially in the idea that the meanings of names are identical to the descriptions associated with them by speakers, while their referents are determined to be the objects that satisfy these descriptions.

Determinism - The philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences.

Dialetheism - A metaphysical doctrine according to which there are true contradictions.

Dogmatism - Dogma (the plural is either dogmata or dogmas, Greek dooµa, plural dooµata) is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. While in the context of religion the term is largely descriptive, outside of religion its current usage tends to carry a pejorative connotation - referring to concepts as being "established" only according to a particular point of view, and thus one of doubtful foundation. This pejorative connotation is even stronger with the term dogmatic, used to describe a person of rigid beliefs who is not open to rational argument.

Dualism - A set of beliefs which begins with the claim that the mental and the physical have a fundamentally different nature. It is contrasted with varying kinds of monism, including materialism and phenomenalism. Dualism is one answer to the mind-body problem. Pluralism holds that there are even more kinds of events or things in the world.

Substance dualism - Is a type of ontological dualism defended by Descartes in which it is claimed that there are two fundamental kinds of substance: mental and material. The mental does not extend in space, and material cannot think. It holds that immortal souls occupy an independent realm of existence, while apparently bodies die. This view contradicts physicalism.

Dynamism - Term coined by Gottfried Leibniz (1646?1716) and developed into a full system of cosmology. The Dynamism idea in metaphysical cosmology explains the material world in terms of active, pointlike forces, with no extension but with action at a distance. Dynamism describes that which exists as simple elements, or for Leibniz, monads, and groups of elements which have only the essence of forces. It was developed as a reaction against the passive view of matter in philosophical mechanism.


Eclecticism - is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.

Egalitarianism - (derived from the French word égal, meaning equal or level) is a political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals from birth. Generally it applies to being held equal under the law, the church, and society at large. In actual practice, one may be considered an egalitarian in most areas listed above, even if not subscribing to equality in every possible area of individual difference. For example, one might support equal rights in race matters but not in gender issues, or vice versa.

Egoism - may refer to any of the following:

Psychological egoism, the doctrine that holds that individuals are always motivated by self-interest.

Ethical egoism, the doctrine that holds that individuals ought to do what is in their self-interest.

Rational egoism, the belief that it is rational to act in one’s self-interest.

Solipsism, (sometimes called egoism), the belief that only one’s self exists, or that only the experiences of one’s self can be verified.

Egotism, an excessive or exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Emanationism - Is Platonic monism, and a component in the cosmology or cosmogony of certain religious or philosophical systems that argue that a sentient, self-aware Supreme Being is an impossibility, that the totality of both the empirical and ontological cosmos is the result of The One whose nature and attribute are will(ing) which is objectively directed and results in lower and lower spiritual modalities of being, and lastly matter (the physical universe) which is the result of this outward flow of the Absolute.

Emotionalism - Means "an inclination to rely on or place too much value on emotion." It could be argued that very few, if any, thinkers would call themselves "emotionalists", but rather that it would be a derogatory term applied to them, possibly for exhibiting a zealous demeanor, which may be interpreted as an appeal to emotion. Whether or not this is the case may vary from depending upon what is being presented.

Emotivism - The non-cognitivist meta-ethical theory that ethical judgments are primarily expressions of one’s own attitude and imperatives meant to change the attitudes and actions of another. It is heavily associated with the work of A. J. Ayer and C. L. Stevenson, and it is related to the prescriptivism of R. M. Hare.

Empiricism - The philosophical doctrine that all human knowledge ultimately comes from the senses and from experience. Empiricism denies that humans have innate ideas or that anything is knowable a priori, i.e., without reference to experience. Empiricism is contrasted with rationalism, epitomized by Ren?escartes. According to the rationalist, philosophy should be performed via introspection and a priori deductive reasoning.

Environmentalism - is a concern for the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment, such as the conservation of natural resources, prevention of pollution, and certain land use actions. It often supports the struggles of indigenous peoples against the spread of globalization to their way of life, which is seen as less harmful to the environment. The study of practical environmentalism is split into two positions: the mainstream ‘anthropocentric’ or hierarchic, and the more radical ‘ecocentric’ or egalitarian.

Epicureanism - While often considered to be the philosophy of pleasure seeking, in fact refers to a middle-path philosophy defining happiness as success in avoiding pain, in the form of both mental worry and physical discomfort, in order to produce a state of tranquility.

Epiphenomenalism - The view in philosophy of mind according to which physical events have mental effects, but mental events have no effects of any kind. In other words, the causal relations go only one way, from physical to mental. In recent times it is usually considered a type of dualism, because it postulates physical events but also non-physical mental events; but historically is has sometimes been thought a kind of monism, because of its sharp divergence from substance dualism.

Equalitarianism - (derived from the French word égal, meaning equal or level) Is a political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals from birth. Generally it applies to being held equal under the law, the church, and society at large. In actual practice, one may be considered an egalitarian in most areas listed above, even if not subscribing to equality in every possible area of individual difference. For example, one might support equal rights in race matters but not in gender issues, or vice versa.

Essentialism - The belief and practice centered on a philosophical claim that for any specific kind of entity it is at least theoretically possible to specify a finite list of characteristics, all of which any entity must have to belong to the group defined.

Eternalism - The word eternalism has at least three meanings:

Eternalism (philosophy of time) Is a view according to which the past, present and future are all equally real.

Eternalism is a position in phenomenology that the world must be seen as static and fixed. This worldview is in opposition to mobilism, which states that the world must be seen as in a constant state of flux. These worldviews are particularly relevant to paradoxology.

Eternalism/Perpetualism is the common English translation of sasatavada, the doctrine of eternal becoming rejected by Buddhism.

Ethical egoism - Is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. It is important to distinguish this from psychological egoism, the claim that people can only act in their own interest. Psychological egoism is a claim about how people do act, not a claim about how they ought to act. Ethical egoism is distinct from rational egoism (which holds that it is rational to act in one’s self-interest) and individualism, neither of which posit that acting in one’s self-interest is necessary to act in a morally right way.

Ethnocentrism - Is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one’s own culture. It is defined as the viewpoint that "one’s own group is the center of everything (better than all other cultures),"[citation needed] against which all other groups are judged. Ethnocentrism often entails the belief that one’s own race or ethnic group is the most important and/or that some or all aspects of its culture are superior to those of other groups. Within this ideology, individuals will judge other groups in relation to their own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behaviour, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and sub-divisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity.

Eudaimonism - A system of ethics that evaluates actions in terms of their capacity to produce happiness.

Existentialism - The philosophical movement that views human existence as having a set of underlying themes and characteristics, such as anxiety, dread, freedom, awareness of death, and consciousness of existing, that are primary. That is, they cannot be reduced to or explained by a natural-scientific approach or any approach that attempts to detach itself from or rise above these themes.

Christian existentialism - The philosophical movement shares similar views to existentialism with the added idea that the Judeo-Christian God plays an important part in coping with the underlying themes of human existence.

Experimentalism - The philosophical belief that experiments yield truth; empiricism.

Expressionism - An aesthetic and artistic movement that distorted reality for enhanced or overexaggerated emotional effect. It can also apply to some literature; the works of Franz Kafka and Georg Kaiser are often said to be expressionistic, for example.

Externalism - In epistemology, the theory that justification can hold elements which are not known to the subject of the belief.

Externism - Pseudo-philosophical theory, developed by fictitious genius J? Cimrman. It deals with our knowledge and learning process.

Extropianism - Also referred to as extropy, and originated by Dr. Max More, extropianism is an evolving framework of values and standards for continuously improving the human condition. Extropianism describes a pragmatic consilience of transhuman thought guided by a conscious, pro-active, self-directed approach to human evolution and progress. (See posthuman). Extropians were once concisely described as libertarian transhumanists, and some still hold to this standard.


Fallibilism - Doctrine that absolute certainty about knowledge is impossible; or at least that all claims to knowledge could, in principle, be mistaken. As a formal doctrine, it is most strongly associated with Charles Sanders Peirce, who used it in his attack on foundationalism. Unlike scepticism, fallibilism does not imply the need to abandon our knowledge- we needn’t have logically conclusive justifications for what we know. Rather, it is an admission that because empirical knowledge can be revised by further observation, all knowledge, excepting that which is axiomatically true (such as mathematical and logical knowledge) exists in a constant state of flux.

Falsificationism - The idea that a proposition or theory cannot be scientific if it does not admit the possibility of being shown false. Falsifiable does not mean false. For a proposition to be falsifiable, it must be at least in principle possible to make an observation that would show the proposition to be false, even if that observation had not been made. For example, the proposition "All crows are black" would be falsified by observing one white crow.

Fascism - Political ideology and mass movement that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and historical terms, above all other loyalties, and to create a mobilized national community. Many different characteristics are attributed to fascism by different scholars, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, authoritarianism, militarism, corporatism, totalitarianism, collectivism, anti-liberalism, and anti-communism.

Feminism - A diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating gender inequality and promoting women’s rights, interests, and issues in society.

Fatalism - The view that human deliberation and actions are pointless and ineffectual in determining events, because whatever will be will be. One ancient argument, called the idle argument, went like this: "If it is fated for you to recover from your illness, then you will recover whether you call a doctor or not. Likewise, if you are fated not to recover, you will not do so even if you call a doctor. So, calling a doctor makes no difference." Arguments like this are usually rejected even by causal determinists, who may say that it may be determined that only a doctor can cure you.

Fideism - In Christian theology, the position that reason is more-or-less irrelevant to religious belief, that rational or scientific arguments for the existence of God are fallacious and irrelevant, and have nothing to do with the truth of Christian theology. Its argument in essence goes: "Christian theology teaches that people are saved by faith. But, if God’s existence can be proven, either empirically or logically, faith becomes irrelevant. Therefore, if Christian theology is true, no proof of God’s existence is possible." The term is occasionally used to refer to a belief that Christians are saved by faith alone: for which see sola fide. This position is sometimes called solifidianism.

Figmentalism - Referred to vaguely in literature as figmentalist (someone who sees figments of their imagination). Redefined by The Institute of Non-Theoretical Science (Namron Soar) as a more descriptive and natural term for Idealism and could be described as pure Idealism. It differs from Solipsism in that "All of reality is collectively generated by all beings and the living mass of nature" and not simply a personal thing that disallows other minds. Together with non-theory and anti-theory it has generated ‘The laws of reality’ that similar to solipsism cannot be refuted. Unlike Idealism, Figmentalism needs no prefixes such as ‘personal Idealism’ etc. and is a very complete system that explains all except what thought itself is composed of.

Formalism - Means a number of different things:

A certain school in the philosophy of mathematics, stressing axiomatic proofs through theorems specifically associated with David Hilbert.

A school of thought in law and jurisprudence which emphasises the fairness of process over substantive outcomes. See Legal formalism.

In economic anthropology, formalism is the theoretical perspective that the principles of neoclassical economics can be applied to our understanding of all human societies.

A certain rigorous mathematical method: see formal system.

A set of notations and rules for manipulating them which yield results in agreement with experiment or other techniques of calculation. These rules and notations may or may not have a corresponding mathematical semantics. In the case no mathematical semantics exists, the calculations are often said to be purely formal. See for example scientific formalism.

In the study of the arts and literature, formalism refers to the style of criticism that focuses on artistic or literary techniques in themselves, in separation from the work’s social and historical context. See formalism (art), formalism (literature).

In the study of film and film theory, formalism is used to refer to a style of criticism that focuses on the technical aspects of filmmaking (e.g., lighting, sets, costumes, etc.). It was also used to describe an avant-garde experimental film movement, often seen as odd or extremist, which was concerned with the beauty of the actual physical form of film (i.e., the celluloid itself).

Formulism - Meaning adherence to or reliance on formulas, is also a school of philosophy that states that good, evil and choosing the correct actions can all be determined from a simple formula.

Foundationalism - Any justification or knowledge theory in epistemology that holds that beliefs are justified (known) when they are based on basic beliefs (also called foundational beliefs). Basic beliefs are beliefs that are self-justifying or self-evident, and don’t need to be justified by other beliefs. Basic beliefs provide:

Justificatory support to other beliefs, which can in turn support further derivative beliefs. Foundationalists hold that basic beliefs are justified by mental events or states (such as experiences) that do not constitute beliefs (these are called nondoxastic mental states), or that they simply are not the type of thing that can (or needs to be) justified.

Freudianism - The beliefs and practice of psychoanalysis as devised by Sigmund Freud; particularly, the mechanism of psychological repression; the situation of sexual desire as central to the development of the persona; and the efficacy of the "talking cure" or psychoanalytic technique.

Functionalism - The dominant theory of mental states in modern philosophy. Functionalism was developed as an answer to the mind-body problem because of objections to both identity theory and logical behaviourism. Its core idea is that the mental states can be accounted for without taking into account the underlying physical medium (the neurons), instead attending to higher-level functions such as beliefs, desires, and emotions.


Gnosticism - Various mystical initiatory religions, sects and knowledge schools, which were most prominent in the first few centuries CE. It is also applied to modern revivals of these groups and, sometimes, by analogy to all religious movements based on secret knowledge gnosis, thus can lead to confusion.


Hedonism - An ethical or aesthetic view which holds pleasure as the highest good or most valuable thing. Hedonism is usually associated with a more physical, egoistic, unrefined, or sexual definition of "pleasure" than than that found in the related utilitarianism.

Hegelianism - A philosophy developed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel which can be summed up by a favorite motto by Hegel "The rational alone is real". Which means that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories. His goal was to reduce to a more synthetic unity the system of transcendental idealism.

Henotheism - See its entry under theism, below.

Hinduism - Arguably the oldest religion in the world.

Historicism - is the theory that claims:

That there is an organic succession of developments (also known as historism or the German historismus), and:

That local conditions and peculiarities influence the results in a decisive way.

Holism - (from holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) Is the idea that all the properties of a given system (biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave. The general principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts."

Humanism - A range of ethical views which consider common human nature to be the source of values.

Posthumanism - A development of humanism which rejects a special position in nature for humanity.

Secular humanism - a system of belief that upholds ethics and reason as the sole means of gaining knowledge. Secular humanists reject blind faith and dogma in favor of scientific inquiry, and most agree that science and rationality can be supplemented with help from the arts. Also known as scientific humanism.

Transhumanism - (sometimes abbreviated >H or H+) Is an emergent philosophy analysing or favouring the use of science and technology, especially neurotechnology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, to overcome human limitations and improve the human condition. Dr. Robin Hanson describes it as "the idea that new technologies are likely to change the world so much in the next century or two that our descendants will in many ways no longer be ‘human’."

Democratic transhumanism - A term coined by Dr. James Hughes in 2002, refers to the stance of transhumanists (advocates of the use of human enhancement technologies) who espouse liberal, social and/or radical democratic political views. According to Hughes, the ideology "stems from the assertion that human beings will generally be happier when they take rational control of the natural and social forces that control their lives." The ethical foundation of democratic transhumanism rests upon rule utilitarianism and non-anthropocentric personhood theory.

Religious humanism - Is an integration of religious rituals and/or beliefs with humanistic philosophy that centers on human needs, interests, and abilities.

Christian humanism - Is the belief that human freedom and individualism are compatible with the practice of Christianity or intrinsic in its doctrine. It is a philosophical union of Christian and humanist principles.

Humanistic naturalism - See its entry under naturalism, below.

Hylozoism - Is the philosophical conjecture that all or some material things possess life, or that all life is inseparable from matter. The English term was introduced by Ralph Cudworth in 1678.


Idealism - An approach to philosophical enquiry. The ideal, in these systems, relates to direct knowledge of subjective mental ideas, or images. It is usually juxtaposed with realism in which the real is said to have absolute existence prior to and independent of our knowledge.

Objective Idealism - Is an idealistic metaphysics that postulates that there is in an important sense only one perceiver, and that this perceiver is one with that which is perceived. One important advocate of such a metaphysics, Josiah Royce, wrote that he was indifferent "whether anybody calls all this Theism or Pantheism". Plato is regarded as one of the earliest representatives of objective idealism. It is distinct from the subjective idealism of George Berkeley, and it abandons the thing-in-itself of Kant’s dualism.

German idealism - A movement in philosophy, started with Immanuel Kant’s transcendental idealism, centered in Germany. Many prominent exponents include Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling.

Subjective idealism - Is a theory in the philosophy of perception. The theory describes a relationship between human experience of the external world, and that world itself, in which objects are nothing more than collections (or bundles) of sense data in those who perceive them. This theory has much in common with phenomenalism, the view that physical objects, properties, events, etc. (whatever is physical) are reducible to mental objects, properties, events, etc. Thus reality is ultimately made up of only Mind and mental objects, properties, events, etc. Subjective idealism is monist, because it states that only the Mind exists (matter is then empirically unprovable as an independently objective reality external to subjective perceptions).

Transcendental idealism - The philosophy of Immanuel Kant and later Kantian and German Idealist philosophers; a view according to which our experience is not about the things as they are in themselves, but about the things as they appear to us. It differs from standard (empirical) idealism in that it does not claim that the objects of our experiences would be in any sense within our mind. The idea is that whenever we experience something, we experience it as it is for ourselves: the object is real as well as mind-independent, but is in a sense corrupted by our cognition (by the categories and the forms of sensibility, space and time). Transcendental idealism denies that we could have knowledge of the thing in itself. A view that holds the opposite is called transcendental realism.

Ignosticism - is a word coined by Rabbi Sherwin Wine to indicate either of two related views about the existence of God.

The first view is that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition cannot be falsified, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless.

The second view is synonymous with theological noncognitivism, and skips the step of first asking "What is meant by God?" before proclaiming the concept meaningless. Some philosophers have seen ignosticism as a variation of agnosticism or atheism[citation needed], while others have considered it to be distinct. In any case, it is a form of nontheism.

Illusionism - Magic is a performing art that entertains an audience by creating illusions of impossible or supernatural feats, using purely natural means. These feats are called magic tricks, effects or illusions. An artist who performs magic is called a magician. Magicians (or magi) are also referred to by names reflecting the type of magical effects they typically perform, such as prestidigitators, conjurors, illusionists, mentalists, ventriloquists, and escape artists, etc.

Immaterialism - Is the theory propounded by Bishop Berkeley in the 18th century which holds that there are no material objects, only minds and ideas in those minds. Berkeley summarized his theory with the motto "esse est percipi" ("To be is to be perceived"), but went on to elaborate it with God as the source of consensus reality and other particulars.

Immortalism - Another name for immortality (or eternal life), is the concept of existing for a potentially infinite, or indeterminate length, of time. Throughout history, humans have had the desire to live forever. What form an unending or indefinitely-long human life would take, or whether it is even possible, has been the subject of much speculation, fantasy, and debate.

Incompatibilism - Is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe both without being logically inconsistent (people who hold this belief are known as compatibilists). While compatibilists hold that free will and determinism are not mutually exclusive, not all compatibilists would insist that both are true.

Indeterminism - Is the philosophical belief contradictory to determinism: that there are events which do not correspond with determinism (and therefore are uncaused in some sense).

Individualism - In political philosophy, the view that the rights or well-being of individuals are to be protected, rather than the well-being of groups such as nations or states, ideologies (such as communism or democracy), or religious communities (such as Christendom). Individualism is often associated with classical liberalism and opposed to the various sorts of communalism and nationalism.

Inductionism - Is the scientific philosophy where laws are "induced" from sets of data. As an example, one might measure the strength of electrical forces at varying distances from charges and induce the inverse square law of electrostatics.

Innatism - Is a philosophical doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a ‘blank slate’ at birth, as early empiricists such as John Locke claimed. It asserts therefore that not all knowledge is obtained from experience and the senses.

Inductivism - In the philosophy of science inductivism exists both in a classical naive version, which has been highly influential, and in various more sophisticated versions. The naive version, which can be traced back to Hippocrates and to thinkers such as David Hume says that general statements (theories) have to be based on empirical observations, which are subsequently generalized into statements which can either be regarded as true or probably true.

Instrumentalism - The idea that knowledge should be judged by its usefulness and that the truth-value of knowledge is irrelevant. Generally invoked in philosophy of science.

Intellectualism - Doctrine about the possibility of deriving knowledge from reason alone, intellectualism can stand for a general approach emphasising the importance of learning and logical thinking. Criticism of this attitude, sometimes summed up as Left Bank, caricatures intellectualism’s faith in the mind and puts it in opposition to emotion, instinct, and primitivist values in general.

Internalism - In epistemology, the view that all evidence involved in justification must be knowable to the subject.

Intentionalism - Original intent is a theory in law concerning constitutional and statutory interpretation. It is frequently-and usually spuriously-used as a synonym for originalism generally; while original intent is indeed one theory in the originalist family, it has some extremely salient differences which has led originalists from more predominant schools of thought such as original meaning to castigate original intent as much as legal realists do.

Interactionism - (sometimes known as interpretivism) Is a generic sociological paradigm that brings under its umbrella a number of subperspectives:

Interpretivism - In epistemology, the view that all knowledge is a matter of interpretation.

Legal interpretivism - school of thought in the philosophy of law, in which law is not considered to be a set of data or physical facts, but what lawyers aim to construct. It holds that there is no separation between law and morality although there are differences (this is the opposite of the main claim of legal positivism). According to legal interpretivism, law is not immanent in nature nor do legal values and principles exist independently and outside of the legal practice itself (this is the opposite of the main claim of natural law theory).

Intuitionism - In the philosophy of mathematics, intuitionism, or neointuitionism (opposed to preintuitionism), is an approach to mathematics as the constructive mental activity of humans. That is, mathematics does not consist of analytic activities wherein deep properties of existence are revealed and applied. Instead, logic and mathematics are the application of internally consistent methods to realize more complex mental constructs.

Irrationalism - And aestheticism were philosophical movements which formed as a cultural reaction against positivism in the early 20th century. These perspectives opposed or de-emphasized the importance of the rationality of human beings. Instead, they concentrated on Kant’s "noumenal realm", or the experience of one’s own existence. Part of the movements involved claims that science was inferior to intuition. In this project, art was given an especially high place, as it was considered the gateway to the noumenon. Unfortunately, not all of the public at the time were involved in this movement and only the elite had access to the art (ie. a "Mandarin elitism"). Some of the followers of this idea are Soren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Henri Bergson, Lev Shestov and Georges Sorel. Symbolism and existentialism grew out of these schools of thought.

Irrealism - has two main meanings:

In philosophy, Irrealism is the common name for a position first advanced by Nelson Goodman in Ways of Worldmaking.

In the arts and critical theory Irrealism refers to both a style that features an estrangement from our generally accepted sense of reality, and a critical theory that interprets other works in this manner.

Islamism - A set of political ideologies derived from various religious views of Muslim fundamentalists, which hold that Islam is not only a religion, but also a political system that governs the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state. Islamist movements seek to re-shape the state by implementing a conservative formulation of Sharia. Islamists regard themselves as Muslims rather than Islamists, while moderate Muslims reject this notion.


Jainism - A dharmic religion centered around asceticism and ahimsa, or nonviolence.

Jansenism - A branch of Catholic thought that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. Named after Cornelius Otto Jansen.

Judaism - A monotheistic, Abrahamic religion descended from the ancient Hebrews.


Kantianism - The philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Kosberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia). The term Kantianism or Kantian is still often used to describe contemporary positions in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.

Kathenotheism - An extension of "henotheism", from kath heno theon - "one god at a time".


Legalism - may refer to:In philosophy:

Legalism (Western philosophy), a concept in Western jurisprudence.

Legalism (Chinese philosophy), one of the four chief philosophic schools in China during the Warring States Period.

Legalism (Korean philosophy), school of Korean legal thought originating in Korea’s Joseon Dynasty related to the Chinese philosophical tradition of legalism.

Legalism (theology), a sometimes pejorative term relating to a number of concepts in the Christian theological tradition.

Legal interpretivism - See interpretivism, above.

Legal naturalism - Term coined by Olufemi Taiwo to describe a current in the social philosophy of Karl Marx which can be interpreted as one of Natural Law. Taiwo considered it the manifestation of Natural Law in a dialectical materialist context.

Legal positivism - School of thought in the philosophy of law which claims that laws are made (deliberately or unintentionally) by human beings, and that there is no inherent or necessary connection between the validity of law and what is ethical or moral.

Liberalism - In politics, a position which favors liberty as a political value. Liberalism has taken many meanings throughout history, but commonalities include a focus on individual liberty, democratic republicanism (liberal democracy), and equality under the law.

Libertarianism - In metaphysics, the claim that free will exists; generally opposed to determinism. (But see compatibilism.) In political philosophy, either of two anti-statist political positions.

Logical positivism - A philosophy (of science), that originated in the Vienna Circle in the 1920s, which holds that philosophy should aspire to the same sort of rigor as science. Philosophy should provide strict criteria for judging sentences true, false and meaningless. Although the logical positivists held a wide range of beliefs on many matters, they all shared an interest in science and deep skepticism of the theological and metaphysical. Following Wittgenstein, many subscribed to the correspondence theory of truth, although some, like Neurath, believed in coherentism. They believed that all knowledge should be based on logical inference from simple "protocol sentences" grounded in observable facts. Hence many supported forms of realism, materialism, philosophical naturalism, and empiricism. Logical positivism is also referred to as logical empiricism, rational empiricism, and neo-positivism.

Logicism - is one of the schools of thought in the philosophy of mathematics, putting forth the theory that mathematics is an extension of logic and therefore some or all mathematics is reducible to logic. Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead championed this theory fathered by Gottlob Frege. Frege gave up on the project after Russell recognized a paradox exposing an inconsistency in naive set theory. Russell and Whitehead continued on with the project in their Principia Mathematica. Kurt Gödel‘s incompleteness theorem is sometimes alleged to undermine the purpose of the project. Logicism was key in the development of Analytic philosophy in the twentieth century.


Manichaeism - Was one of the major ancient religions. Though its organized form is mostly extinct today, a revival has been attempted under the name of Neo-Manichaeism. However, most of the writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost. Some scholars and anti-Catholic polemicists argue that its influence subtly continues in Western Christian thought via Saint Augustine of Hippo, who converted to Christianity from Manichaeism and whose writing continues to be enormously influential among Catholic and Protestant theologians.

Marxism - A set of political positions and movements based on the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marx‘s philosophy of history included the notion of class struggle within dialectical materialism. Marxism was the intellectual foundation for the 20th-century political movement known as Communism, and was developed into various factions such as Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, and Trotskyism, each hewing to the ideas of a particular political leader.

Neo-Marxism - Is a loose term for various twentieth-century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, usually by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions (for example: critical theory, which incorporates psychoanalysis; Erik Olin Wright’s theory of contradictory class locations, which incorporates Weberian sociology; and critical criminology, which incorporates anarchism). As with many uses of the prefix neo-, many theorists and groups designated "neo-Marxist" attempted to supplement the perceived deficiencies of orthodox Marxism or dialectical materialism.

Materialism - The philosophical view that the only thing that can truly be said to ‘exist’ is matter; that fundamentally, all things are composed of ‘material’ and all phenomena are the result of material interactions.

Christian materialism - Is the combination of the theology, concepts, and holy writings of Christianity with the philosophy of materialism, which places primary importance on material objects and their interrelationships.

Dialectical materialism - According to many followers of the theories of Karl Marx (or Marxists), dialectical materialism is the philosophical basis of Marxism. The name, which was never used by Marx himself, refers to the notion that Marxism is a synthesis of philosophical dialectics and materialism.

Historical materialism - Is the methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history which was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx himself never used the term but referred to his approach as "the materialist conception of history". He also distinguished "philosophical materialism" from what he called "popular materialism"). His fundamental proposition of historical materialism can be summed up in the following: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness".

Eliminative materialism - Absolute version of materialism and physicalism with respect to mental entities and mental vocabulary, according to which our common-sense understanding of the mind (what eliminativists call folk psychology) is not a viable theory on which to base scientific investigation: behaviour and experience can only be adequately explained on the biological level. Therefore, no coherent neural basis will be found for everyday folk psychological concepts (such as belief , desire and intention, for they are illusory and therefore do not have any consistent neurological substrate. Eliminative materialists therefore believe that consciousness does not exist except as an epiphenomenon of brain function and some believe that the concept will eventually be eliminated as neuroscience progresses.

Emergent materialism - In the philosophy of mind, emergent (or emergentist) materialism is a theory which asserts that the mind is an irreducible existent in some sense, albeit not in the sense of being an ontological simple, and that the study of mental phenomena is independent of other sciences. The view can be divided into emergence which denies mental causation and emergence which allows for causal effect. A version of the latter type has been advocated by John R. Searle, called biological naturalism. The other main group of materialist views in the philosophy of mind can be labeled non-emergent (or non-emergentist) materialism, and includes identity theory, philosophical behaviorism, functionalism, and eliminativism (eliminative materialism).

Evolutionary materialism - Need info here.

French materialism - Combined the associationist psychology and Empiricism of John Locke with the Totality of Isaac Newton to create a complex world view in diametrical opposition to the Cartesian dualist world view.

Reductive materialism - Reductionism.

Mazdaism - The religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster (see Zoroastrianism) to be the one uncreated Creator of all (God).

Mechanism - Theory that all natural phenomena can be explained by physical causes. It can be contrasted with vitalism, the philosophical theory that vital forces are active in living organisms, so that life cannot be explained solely by mechanism.

Meliorism - Is an idea in metaphysical thinking holding that progress is a real concept leading to an improvement of the world. It holds that humans can, through their interference with processes that would otherwise be natural, produce an outcome which is an improvement over the aforementioned natural one. In comparison, one may contrast this concept with that of apologism. Meliorism, as a conception of the person and society, is at the foundation of contemporary liberal democracy and human rights.

Mentalism - Is an ancient performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, use mental acuity, principles of stage magic, hypnosis and/or suggestion to present the illusion of mind reading, psychokinesis, precognition, clairvoyance or mind control.

Metaphysical naturalism - See its entry under naturalism, below.

Modernism - Describes a series of reforming cultural movements in art and architecture, music, literature and the applied arts which emerged in the three decades before 1914.

Mohism - The teachings of Mozi rested on the idea of universal love: Mozi believed that "everyone is equal before heaven", and that people should seek to imitate heaven by engaging in the practice of collective love. His epistemology can be regarded as primitive materialist empiricism; he believed that our cognition ought to be based on our perceptions - our sensory experiences, such as sight and hearing - instead of imagination or internal logic, elements founded on our capacity for abstraction. Mozi’s philosophy was described in the book Mozi, compiled by his students from his lecture notes.

Molinism - A religious doctrine which attempts to reconcile the omniscience of God with human free will. Named after 16th Century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina.

Monism - The metaphysical and theological view that there is only one principle, essence, substance or energy. Monism is to be distinguished from dualism, which holds that ultimately there are two principles, and from pluralism, which holds that ultimately there are many principles.

Monistic theism - See its entry under theism, below.

Monolatrism - Or monolatry (Greek: (monos) = single, and (latreia) = worship) is defined as "the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity." In contrast to monotheism, monolatry accepts the existence of other gods; in contrast to henotheism, it regards only one god as worthy of worship. The term was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.

Monotheism - See its entry under theism, below.

Moral absolutism - The belief in a single set of rights and wrongs, with no variation. These are known by all people and to not respect them is a choice.

Moral realism - The philosophical view that there are objective moral values. Moral realists argue that moral judgments describe moral facts. This combines a cognitivist view about moral judgments (they are belief-like mental states that describe the state of the world), a view about the existence of moral facts (they do in fact exist), and a view about the nature of moral facts (they are objective: independent of our cognizing them, or our stance towards them). It contrasts with expressivist or non-cognitivist theories of moral judgment, error theories of moral judgments, fictionalist theories of moral judgment, and constructivist or relativist theories of the nature of moral facts.

Moral relativism - Is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect objective and/or universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. Moral relativists hold that no universal standard exists by which to assess an ethical proposition’s truth; moral subjectivism is thus the opposite of moral absolutism. Relativistic positions often see moral values as applicable only within certain cultural boundaries (cultural relativism) or in the context of individual preferences (moral subjectivism). An extreme relativist position might suggest that judging the moral or ethical judgments or acts of another person or group has no meaning, though most relativists propound a more limited version of the theory.

Moral universalism - Is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is to all people regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality, or other distinguishing feature. The source or justification of this system may be thought to be, for instance, human nature, shared vulnerability to suffering, the demands of universal reason, what is common among existing moral codes, or the commands of a God. It is the opposing position to various forms of moral relativism.

Mysticism - (from the Greek - mystikos, an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries; - mysteria meaning "initiation") Is the pursuit of achieving communion, identity with, or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, or insight. Traditions may include a belief in the literal existence of dimensional realities beyond empirical perception, or a belief that a true human perception of the world goes beyond current logical reasoning or intellectual comprehension. A person delving in these areas may be called a Mystic.


Nativism - Is an opposition to immigration which originated in United States politics with roots in the country’s historic role as a melting pot. Although opposition to immigration is common in many countries with immigration, the term nativism has a specific meaning. Strictly speaking, nativism distinguishes between Americans who were born in the United States, and individuals who have immigrated personally, i.e. "first-generation" immigrants.

Naturalism - Any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that do not distinguish the supernatural (including strange entities like non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived) from nature. Naturalism does not necessarily claim that phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural do not exist or are wrong, but insists that all phenomena and hypotheses can be studied by the same methods and therefore anything considered supernatural is either nonexistent, unknowable, or not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses.

Humanistic naturalism - The belief that human beings, as well as plants and animals, are divine and intricate extensions of nature. Followers share a mutual respect for things created directly by nature, even though life must feed upon life for continuance. While most believers are able to adapt to modern change, naturalists prefer the a fair exchange of resources, as was in the case of former agricultural and hunter-gatherer societies. Industry and technology are in exact opposition to naturalism.

Legal naturalism - Term coined by Olufemi Taiwo to describe a current in the social philosophy of Karl Marx which can be interpreted as one of Natural Law. Taiwo considered it the manifestation of Natural Law in a dialectical materialist context.

Metaphysical naturalism - The belief that nature is in fact all that exists. The term applies to any worldview in which nature is all there is and all things supernatural do not exist (including spirits and souls, non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived).

Necessitarianism - A metaphysical principle that denies free will, reasoning that human actions are predetermined by external antecedents.

Nihilism - Philosophical view that the world, and especially human existence, is without meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. It is more often a charge leveled against a particular idea than a position to which someone is overtly subscribed. Movements such as Dada, Deconstructionism, and punk have been described by various observers as "nihilist".

Nominalism - The belief that universals or mental concepts have no objective reaity but exist only as words or "names" (Latin nomina).

Non-cognitivism - The meta-ethical view that moral statements do not assert propositions i.e. they do not express factual claims or beliefs and therefore lack truth-value. This view should be distinguished from moral realism, skepticism, subjectivism, relativism, and nihilism; proponents of these views avow that moral statements are either true or false.

Nontheism - The absence of belief in both the existence and non-existence of a deity (or deities, or other numinous phenomena). The word is often employed as a blanket term for all belief systems that are not theistic, including atheism (both strong and weak) and agnosticism, as well as certain Eastern religions like Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism.


Objectivism - In ethics, the belief that certain acts are objectively right or wrong. Also an individualist movement founded by Ayn Rand, usually spelled Objectivism.

Occasionalism - Philosophical theory about causation stating that created substances cannot be efficient causes of events. Instead, all events are taken to be caused directly by God Himself. (A related theory, which has been called ‘occasional causation’, also denies a link of efficient causation between mundane events, but may differ as to the identity of the true cause that replaces them).

Ontologism - Ideological system which maintains that God and Divine ideas are the first object of our intelligence and that the intuition of God the first act of our intellectual knowledge. Note that Martin Heidegger used the term Onto-theology, that is answering questions of being with direct reference of belief in God.

Operationalism - Is the process of defining a concept as the operations that will measure the concept (variables) through specific observations.

Optimism - Historically, the philosophical position that this is the best of all possible worlds, usually associated with Gottfried Leibniz. More often used to describe a cheerful or positive worldview.

Organicism - Philosophical orientation that asserts that reality is best understood as an organic whole. By definition it is close to holism. Benedict Spinoza and Constantin Brunner are two philosophers whose thought is best understood as organicist.


Pacifism - In ethics or politics, an opposition to war or violence. Can range from advocacy of peaceful solutions to problems, to a stance where all violence or force is considered morally wrong.

Pandeism - Term coined by Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal in Zeitschrift fokerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft (1859); see deism, above and pantheism (under theism) below.

Panendeism - Is deism combined with the belief that the universe is part of God, but not all of God. Some panendeists have established numerous additional beliefs, and use more specialized terminology to describe them. However, any deist who believes that the universe is a part (but not the whole) of God, can be considered a panendeist.

Panentheism - See its entry under theism, below.

Panpsychism - Either the view that all parts of matter involve mind, or the more holistic view that the whole universe is an organism that possesses a mind. It is thus a stronger and more ambitious view than hylozoism, which holds only that all things are alive. This is not to say that panpsychism believes that all matter is alive or even conscious but rather that the constituent parts of matter are composed of some form of mind and are sentient.

Pantheism - See its entry under theism, below.

Particularism - In the study of knowledge, particularism refers to the approach where one asks the question "What do we know?" before asking "How do we know?" The term appears in Roderick Chisholm’s "The Problem of the Criterion", and in the work of his student, Ernest Sosa ("The Raft and the Pyramid: Coherence versus Foundations in the Theory of Knowledge"). Particularism is contrasted with methodism, which answers the latter question before the former. Since the question "What do we know" implies that we know, it is fundamentally anti-skeptical.

Pelagianism - The belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid.

Semipelagianism - A Christian theological understanding about salvation, derived from the earlier Pelagian teachings about salvation. It teaches that it is necessary for humans to make the first step toward God and then God will complete salvation.

Perfectionism - Perfection, in this sense, is a goal to which one strives, even though the goal may be impossible to realize; the striving itself may be part of the good.

Personalism - School of thought that consists of three main principles: 1) only people are real (in the ontological sense), 2) only people have value, and 3) only people have free will. Personalism flourished in the early 20th century at Boston University in a movement known as Boston Personalism and led by theologian Borden Parker Bowne.

Perspectivism - Philosophical view developed by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that all perception and ideation takes place from a particular perspective in terms of inner drives as elucidated by the will to power.

Pessimism - A belief that the experienced world is the worst possible. It describes a general belief that things are bad, and tend to become worse; or that looks to the eventual triumph of evil over good; it contrasts with optimism, the contrary belief in the goodness and betterment of things generally. A common conundrum illustrates optimism versus pessimism with the question - does one regard a given glass of water as: "Is the glass half empty or half full?" Conventional wisdom expects optimists to reply with half full and pessimists to respond with half empty, but this is not always the case.

Phenomenal conservatism - In epistemology, phenomenal conservatism (PC) holds that it is reasonable to assume that things are as they appear, unless there are positive grounds for doubting this. (The term derives from the Greek word "phainomenon", meaning "appearance".)

Phenomenalism - In epistemology and the philosophy of perception, phenomenalism is the view that physical objects do not exist as things in themselves but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli (e.g. redness, hardness, softness, sweetness, etc.) situated in time and in space. In particular, phenomenalism reduces talk about physical objects in the external world to talk about bundles of sense-data.

Physicalism - The metaphysical position asserting that everything which exists has a physical property; that is, that there are no kinds of things other than physical things. In contemporary philosophy physicalism is most frequently associated with philosophy of mind, in particular the mind/body problem, in which it holds that the mind is a physical thing in some sense. Physicalism is also called "materialism", but the term "physicalism" is preferable because it has evolved with the physical sciences to incorporate far more sophisticated notions of physicality than matter, for example wave/particle relationships and unseen, non-material forces.

Platonism - The school of philosophy founded by Plato. Often used to refer to Platonic idealism, the belief that the entities of the phenomenal world are imperfect reflections of an ideal truth. In metaphysics sometimes used to mean the claim that universals exist independent of particulars. Predecessor and precursor of Aristotelianism.

Neo-Platonism - Was a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century A.D. Though based on the teachings of Plato and Platonists, it interpreted Plato in many new ways, so that Neoplatonism was quite different from what Plato had written, though many Neoplatonists would prefer to say that what they advocated had been previously taught by Plato.

Pluralism - In the area of philosophy of the mind, distinguishes a position where one believes there to be ultimately many kinds of substances in the world, as opposed to monism and dualism. (See also cosmotheism).

Polylogism - Is a fallacy often associated with social philosophy according to which persons of different races, social classes or time periods use different kinds of logic. Marxism, Nazism, and some other political and social philosophies allegedly make this mistake. For example, Marxists have contrasted "proletarian logic" with "bourgeois logic", and Nazis have contrasted "Aryan logic" with "Jewish logic", etc.

Polytheism - See its entry under theism, below.

Positivism - Philosophical position that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge. It is an approach to the philosophy of science, deriving from Enlightenment thinkers like Pierre-Simon Laplace (and many others). See also logical positivism.

Legal positivism - School of thought in the philosophy of law which claims that laws are made (deliberately or unintentionally) by human beings, and that there is no inherent or necessary connection between the validity of law and what is ethical or moral.

Postmodernism - Philosophical movement characterized by the postmodern criticism and analysis of Western philosophy. Beginning as a critique of Continental philosophy, it was heavily influenced by phenomenology, structuralism and existentialism, and by the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. It was also influenced to some degree by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later criticisms of analytic philosophy. Within postmodern philosophy, there are numerous interrelated fields, including deconstruction and several fields beginning with the prefix "post-", such as post-structuralism, post-Marxism, and post-feminism. In particular postmodern philosophy has spawned a huge literature of critical theory.

Pragmatism - Philosophy which originated in the United States in the late 1800s. Pragmatism is characterized by the insistence on consequences, utility and practicality as vital components of meaning and truth. Pragmatism objects to the view that human concepts and intellect represent reality, and therefore stands in opposition to both formalist and rationalist schools of philosophy. Rather, pragmatism holds that it is only in the struggle of intelligent organisms with the surrounding environment that theories acquire significance, and only with a theory’s success in this struggle that it becomes true.

Prescriptivism (philosophy) - Meta-ethical theory about the semantical content of moral statements, introduced by the philosopher R. M. Hare in his book The Language of Morals. It holds that moral statements functions similarly to imperatives. For example, according to prescriptivism, the statement "Killing is wrong" means something like "You shouldn’t kill". What it expresses is an imperative.

Probabilism - Practical doctrine which gives assistance in ordinary matters to one who is skeptical in respect of the possibility of real knowledge: it supposes that though knowledge is impossible, a man may rely on strong beliefs in practical affairs. This view was held by the skeptics of the New Academy (see skepticism and Carneades). Opposed to "probabilism" is "probabiliorism" (Latin probabilior, "more likely"), which holds that when there is a preponderance of evidence on one side of a controversy that side is presumably right. Academic skeptics accept probabilism, while Pyrrhonian skeptics do not.

Psychological egoism - Is the view that humans are always motivated by rational self-interest, even in what seem to be acts of altruism. It can be contrasted both with ethical egoism, which is the view that the individual always ought to be motivated by self-interest and disregard the interests of the community, and rational egoism, which asserts that the rational thing to do in all situations is that which furthers the actor’s interests the most. It claims that when sane people choose to help others, it is because of the personal benefits they themselves obtain or expect to obtain, directly or indirectly, from doing so. Psychological egoism is controversial; some see it as an over-simplified interpretation of behavior, others argue that there exists evidence of altruistic behavior.

Psychologism - Is a generic type of position in philosophy according to which psychology plays a central role in grounding or explaining some other, non-psychological type of fact or law. The most common types of psychologism are logical psychologism and mathematical psychologism. Logical psychologism is a position in logic (or the philosophy of logic) according to which logical laws and mathematical laws are grounded in, derived from or explained by psychological facts (or laws). Psychologism in the philosophy of mathematics is the position that mathematical concepts and/or truths are grounded in, derived from or explained by psychological facts (or laws).

Pyrrhonism - Was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BCE and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century CE. It was named after Pyrrho, a philosopher who lived from c. 360 to c. 270 BCE, although the relationship between the philosophy of the school and of the historical figure is murky. Pyrrhonism became influential during the past few centuries when the modern scientific worldview was born. Whereas ‘academic’ skepticism, with as its most famous adherent Carneades, claims that "Nothing can be known, not even this", Pyrrhonian skeptics withhold any assent with regard to non-evident propositions and remain in a state of perpetual inquiry. According to them, even the statement that nothing can be known is dogmatic. For example, Pyrrhonians might assert that a lack of proof cannot constitute disproof, and that a lack of belief is vastly different from a state of active disbelief. Rather than disbelieving in God, psychic powers, etc. for instance, based on the lack of evidence of such things, Pyrrhonians recognize that we cannot be certain that new evidence won’t turn up in the future, and so they intentionally remain tentative and continue their inquiry. Pyrrhonians also question accepted knowledge, and view dogmatism as a disease of the mind. A brief period in western history is referred to by philosophers as the Pyrrhonic Crisis, during the birth of modernity. In Feudal society absolute truth was provided by divine authority. However, as this fell from legitimacy, there was a brief lag before the enlightenment produced the nation-state and science as the new sources of absolute truth. Relativist views similar to those held in Pyrrhonism were popular among thinkers of the time. Pyrrhonian skepticism is similar to the form of skepticism called Zeteticism promoted by Marcello Truzzi.

Pythagoreanism - The esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers the Pythagoreans, much influenced by mathematics and probably a main inspiration source to Plato and platonism. Pythagoreanism includes musica universalis, the music of the spheres.


Quasi-realism - A non-cognitivist, expressivist meta-ethical and epistemological theory developed by professor Simon Blackburn. It holds that although propositions supervene on states of mind, they have many realist characteristics, such as only being able to change slowly or in response to changes in natural properties.


Randianism - The individualist movement founded by Ayn Rand, known by its adherents as Objectivism.

Rationalism - An approach to philosophy based on the thesis that human reason can in principle be the source of all knowledge. In the modern period, rationalism was initially championed by Rene Descartes and spread during the 17th and 18th centuries, primarily in continental Europe. In contrast, the modern approach known as British Empiricism held that all ideas come to us through experience, and thus that knowledge (with the possible exception of mathematics) is essentially empirical. At issue is the fundamental source of human knowledge, and the proper techniques for verifying what we think we know (see Epistemology).

Critical rationalism - Holds that scientific theories, and any other claims to knowledge, can and should be rationally criticized, and (if they have empirical content) can and should be subjected to tests which may falsify them. Thus claims to knowledge may be contrastively, normatively evaluated. They are either falsifiable and thus empirical (in a very broad sense), or not falsifiable and thus non-empirical. Those claims to knowledge that are potentially falsifiable can then be admitted to the body of empirical science, and then further differentiated according to whether they are (so far) retained or indeed are actually falsified. If retained, yet further differentiation may be made on the basis of how much subjection to criticism they have received, and how severe such criticism has been.

Pancritical rationalism - (PCR), also called Comprehensively Critical Rationalism (CCR), is a development of critical rationalism and panrationalism originated by William Warren Bartley in his book The Retreat to Commitment. PCR attempts to work around the problem of ultimate commitment or infinite regress by decoupling criticism and justification. A pancritical rationalist holds all positions open to criticism, including PCR, and never resorts to authority for justification.

Rationalist movement - A contemporary philosophical doctrine that asserts that the truth can best be discovered by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching. Rationalism has some similarities in ideology and intent to humanism and atheism, in that it aims to provide a framework for social and philosophical discourse outside of religious or supernatural beliefs.

Realism - The belief that properties, usually called Universals, exist independently of the things that manifest them. Thus a realist would hold that even if one were to destroy all of the manifestations of the color red the universal red would still exist.

Moral realism - The philosophical view that there are objective moral values. Moral realists argue that moral judgments describe moral facts. This combines a cognitivist view about moral judgments (they are belief-like mental states that describe the state of the world), a view about the existence of moral facts (they do in fact exist), and a view about the nature of moral facts (they are objective: independent of our cognizing them, or our stance towards them). It contrasts with expressivist or non-cognitivist theories of moral judgment, error theories of moral judgments, fictionalist theories of moral judgment, and constructivist or relativist theories of the nature of moral facts.

Platonic realism - Is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals after the Greek philosopher Plato who lived between c. 427-c. 347 BC, student of Socrates, and the teacher of Aristotle. As universals were by Plato considered ideal forms this stance is confusingly also called Platonic idealism.

Reductionism - A number of related, contentious theories that hold, very roughly, that the nature of complex things can always be reduced to (be explained by) simpler or more fundamental things. This is said of objects, phenomena, explanations, theories, and meanings. In short, it is philosophical materialism taken to its logical consequences.

Ontological reductionism - The idea that everything that exists is made from a small number of basic substances that behave in regular ways. Compare to monism.

Methodological reductionism - The idea that explanations of things, such as scientific explanations, ought to be continually reduced to the very simplest entities possible (but no simpler). Occam’s Razor forms the basis of this type of reductionism.

Theoretical reductionism - The idea that older theories or explanations are not generally replaced outright by new ones, but that new theories are refinements or reductions of the old theory in greater detail.

Scientific reductionism - Has been used to describe all of the above ideas as they relate to science, but is most often used to describe the idea that all phenomena can be reduced to scientific explanations.

Linguistic reductionism - The idea that everything can be described in a language with a limited number of core concepts, and combinations of those concepts. (See Basic English and the constructed language Toki Pona).

Greedy reductionism - This term was coined by Daniel Dennett to condemn those forms of reductionism that try to explain too much with too little.

Analytical reductionism - As used in "Is Reductionism A Good Approach In Science?" "is the underlying a priori of ontological reductionism".

Relationalism - The great debate between defining notions of space and time as real objects themselves (absolute), or whether they are merely orderings upon actual objects (relational), began between physicists Isaac Newton (via his spokesman, Samuel Clarke) and Gottfried Leibniz in the papers of the Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence. Arguing against the absolutist position, Leibniz offers a number of thought experiments with the purpose of showing that there is contradiction in assuming the existence of facts such as absolute location and velocity. These arguments trade heavily on two principles central to his philosophy: the principle of sufficient reason and the identity of indiscernibles. The principle of sufficient reason holds that for every fact there is a reason that is sufficient to explain what and why it is the way it is and not otherwise. The identity of indiscernibles states that if there is no way of telling two entities apart then they are one and the same thing.

Relativism - The view that the meaning and value of human beliefs and behaviors have no absolute reference. Relativists claim that humans understand and evaluate beliefs and behaviors only in terms of, for example, their historical and cultural context. Philosophers identify many different kinds of relativism depending upon what allegedly depends on something and what something depends on.

Moral relativism - The belief that there is no one universal set of morals; i.e., that each individual has his or her own moral beliefs, usually based on personal experience or perception, and that those morals are valid and true for those individuals.

Linguistic relativism - Is the idea that differences in language are related to differences in cognition of the language users. It is an idea inferred from Linguistic determinism, and subject in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

Methodological relativism - Refers to a practice, by Anthropologists who are concerned with describing actual human behavior, in which the researcher suspends or brackets his or her own cultural biases while attempting to understand beliefs and behaviors in their local contexts. Relativism of this kind is intended as a methodological antidote to ethnocentric distortions in science, and should not be confused either with cognitive relativism or moral relativism. The need for methodological relativism is implied by the principle of cultural relativism, which states that an individual human’s beliefs and activities are best interpreted in terms of his or her own culture.

Reliabilism - In epistemology, the claim that the status of a belief as knowledge should be judged by whether it was arrived upon through a reliable method. For instance, scientific experiment may be considered a more reliable method than intuition or guesswork.

Representationalism - Representative Theory of Perception, also known as Indirect realism, epistemological dualism, and The veil of perception, is a philosophical concept. It states that we do not (and can not) perceive the external world directly; instead we know only our ideas or interpretations of objects in the world. Thus, a barrier or a veil of perception prevents first-hand knowledge of anything beyond it. The "veil" exists between the mind and the existing world. The debate then occurs about where our ideas come from, and what this place is like. An indirect realist believes our ideas come from sense data of a real, material, external world (unlike idealists). The doctrine states that in any act of perception, the immediate (direct) object of perception is only a sense-datum that represents an external object. Aristotle was the first to provide an in-depth description of Indirect realism. In On the Soul he describes how the eye must be affected by changes in an intervening medium rather than by objects themselves. He then speculates on how these sense impressions can form our experience of seeing and reasons that an endless regress would occur unless the sense itself were self aware. He concludes by proposing that the mind is the things it thinks. He calls the images in the mind "ideas". The way that indirect realism involves intermediate stages between objects and perceptions immediately raises a question: How well do sense-data represent external objects, properties, and events? Indirect realism creates deep epistemological problems, such as solipsism and the problem of the external world. Nonetheless, Indirect realism has been popular in the history of philosophy and has been developed by many philosophers including Bertrand Russell, Spinoza, René Descartes, and John Locke. Representationalism is one of the key assumptions of cognitivism in psychology.

Romanticism - Is an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated around the middle of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution.


Scholasticism - School of philosophy taught by the academics (or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100?1500. Scholasticism attempted to reconcile the philosophy of the ancient classical philosophers with medieval Christian theology. The primary purpose of scholasticism was to find the answer to a question or resolve a contradiction. It is most well known in its application in medieval theology but was applied to classical philosophy and other fields of study. It is not a philosophy or theology on its own, but a tool and method for learning which puts emphasis on dialectical reasoning.

Scientism - The belief that science has primacy over other ways of obtaining knowledge. This term is often used in a derogatory manner, to refer to a level of trust or reliance upon scientific progress which the speaker deems excessive.

Scotism - The philosophical school and theological system named after John Duns Scotus. It heavily criticized the Old Franciscan School and Thomism.

Secularism - In politics, the notion of the independence of the state from religion; the advocacy of a state which is neutral on matters of religious belief. Secularism, or religious freedom, is usually considered to go both ways: the state should not compel the people to follow (or not follow) a religion; and likewise religious doctrines should not control the actions of the state.

Sikhism - A monotheistic dharmic religion based on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.

Sensualism - Philosophical theory in which sensations and perception are the basic and most important form of true cognition. This opposes realism. The base principle of sensualism is "there is not anything in mind, which hasn’t been in feelings". Philosophers of sensualism include John Locke and ?ienne Bonnot de Condillac.

Singularitarianism - A moral philosophy based upon the belief that a technological singularity - the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence - is possible, advocating deliberate action to effect and ensure its safety. While some futurologists and transhumanists speculate on the possibility and nature of this supposed singularity (often referred to as the Singularity), a Singularitarian believes it is not only possible, but that it can also be guided, and acts in ways that he/she believes will contribute to its safety and early arrival.

Situationalism - Another name for Situation Ethics, which is a Christian ethical theory that was principally developed in the 1960s by the Episcopal priest Joseph Fletcher. It basically states that sometimes other moral principles can be cast aside in certain situations if love is best served; as Paul Tillich once put it: ‘Love is the ultimate law’. The moral principles Fletcher is specifically referring to are the moral codes of Christianity and the type of love he is specifically referring to is ‘Agape’ love.

Skepticism - In classical philosophy, skepticism refers to the teachings and the traits of the Skeptikoi, a school of philosophers of whom it was said that they "asserted nothing but only opined" (Liddell and Scott). In this sense, philosophical skepticism, or pyrrhonism, is the philosophical position that one should avoid the postulation of final truths. Turned on itself, skepticism would question that skepticism is a valid perspective at all.

Pyrrhonian skepticism - Was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BCE and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century CE. It was named after Pyrrho, a philosopher who lived from c. 360 to c. 270 BCE, although the relationship between the philosophy of the school and of the historical figure is murky. Pyrrhonism became influential during the past few centuries when the modern scientific worldview was born. Whereas ‘academic’ skepticism, with as its most famous adherent Carneades, claims that "Nothing can be known, not even this", Pyrrhonian skeptics withhold any assent with regard to non-evident propositions and remain in a state of perpetual inquiry. According to them, even the statement that nothing can be known is dogmatic.

Social Darwinism - A 19th century political philosophy which attempted to explain differences in social status (particularly class and racial differences) on the basis of evolutionary fitness. Social Darwinism is generally considered unscientific by modern philosophers of science.

Socialism - Ideology with the core belief that a society should exist in which popular collectives control the means of power, and therefore the means of production. Though the de facto meaning of socialism has changed over time, it remains strongly-related to the establishment of an organized working class; created through either revolution or by social evolution, with the purpose of building a classless society. Socialism had its origins in the ideals of The Enlightenment, during the Industrial Age/Age of Industrialization, amid yearnings for a more egalitarian society. It has also increasingly become concentrated on social reforms within modern democracies.

Solipsism - (Latin: solus, alone + ipse, self) is the philosophical idea that "My mind is the only thing that I know exists". Solipsism is an epistemological or metaphysical position that knowledge of anything outside the mind is unjustified. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist. In the history of philosophy, solipsism has served as a skeptical hypothesis. Denial of the materialist existence, in itself, is not enough to be a Solipsist. Possibly the most controversial feature of the solipsistic world view is the denial of the existence of other minds. We can never directly know another’s mental stability. Qualia, or personal experience, is private and incorrigible. Another person’s experience can be known only by analogy. Solipsism, like other skeptical hypotheses, is likely impossible to refute. Likewise, the core assertion of materialism - that there is an external universe - is also impossible to refute. Solipsism refers to several world views whose common element is some form of denial of the existence of a universe independent from the mind of the agent. The reference to Solipsism as a singular belief is no more correct than the principle that "Christian" is a single belief. However, like Christianity, Solipsism is often used in speech as though it refers to a singular concept.

Sophism - Can mean two very different things: In the modern definition, a sophism is a confusing or illogical argument used for deceiving someone. In Ancient Greece, the sophists were a group of teachers of philosophy and rhetoric. The term sophism originated from Greek sophistes, meaning "wise-ist", one who "does" wisdom, one who makes a business out of wisdom (sophós means "wise man").

Speciesism - Belief that rights, and moral standing and/or moral personhood ought to be assigned on the basis of species membership. Usually involves the belief that humans have greater value or worth than other animal species.

Spiritualism - A religious movement, prominent from the 1840s to the 1920s, found primarily in English-speaking countries. The movement’s distinguishing feature is the belief that the spirits of the dead can be contacted by adepts. These spirits are believed to lie on a higher spiritual plane than humans, and are therefore capable of providing guidance in both worldly and spiritual matters.

Statism - The term can be used loosely in a derogative sense to describe an instance in which a country or other political entity is more Statist than the user of the term believes is desirable (in the case of anarchists, this may include all of the world’s countries)[citation needed]. More rigorously, a specific area of policy within a country may be described as Statist, which would allow comparison with another country in which that area of policy is completely non-Statist.

Stoicism - Is a school of Hellenistic philosophy, founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early third century BC. It proved to be a popular and durable philosophy, with a following throughout Greece and the Roman Empire from its founding until all the schools of philosophy were ordered closed in AD 529 by the Emperor Justinian I, who perceived their pagan character to be at odds with his Christian faith. The core doctrine of Stoicism concerns cosmic Determinism and human freedom, and the belief that virtue is to maintain a Will that is in accord with nature. In the life of the individual man, virtue is the sole good; such things as health, happiness, possessions, are of no account. Since virtue resides in the will, everything really good or bad in a man’s life depends only upon himself. He may become poor, but what of it? He can still be virtuous. A tyrant may put him in prison, but he can still persevere in living in harmony with Nature. He may be sentenced to death, but he can die nobly, like Socrates. Therefore every man has perfect freedom, provided he emancipates himself from mundane desires.

Structuralism - As a term refers to various theories across the humanities, social sciences and economics many of which share the assumption that structural relationships between concepts vary between different cultures/languages and that these relationships can be usefully exposed and explored. More accurately it could be described as an approach in academic disciplines in general that explores the relationships between fundamental principal elements in language, literature, and other fields upon which some higher mental, linguistic, social, or cultural "structures" and "structural networks" are built. Through these networks meaning is produced within a particular person, system, or culture. This meaning then frames and motivates the actions of individuals and groups. In its most recent manifestation, structuralism as a field of academic interest began around 1958 and peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Post-structuralism - Encompasses the intellectual developments of continental philosophers and critical theorists that wrote with tendencies of twentieth-century French philosophy. The prefix "post" refers to the fact that many contributors such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Julia Kristeva rejected structuralism and became quite critical of it. In direct contrast to structuralism’s claims of an independent signifier, superior to the signified, post-structuralism views the signifier and signified as inseparable but not united. While post-structuralism is difficult to define or summarize, it can be broadly understood as a body of distinct reactions to structuralism. There are two main reasons for this difficulty. First, it rejects definitions that claim to have discovered absolute ‘truths’ or facts about the world. Second, very few people have willingly accepted the label ‘post-structuralist’; rather, they have been labeled as such by others. Therefore, no one has felt compelled to construct a ‘manifesto’ of post-structuralism.

Subjectivism - The converse of objectivism.

Substance monotheism - See its entry under theism, below.

Surrealism - Is a cultural movement that began in the early-1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members. The works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur, however many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost with the works being an artifact, and leader Andre Breton was explicit in his assertion that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement. From the Dada activities of World War I Surrealism was formed with the most important center of the movement in Paris and from the 1920s spreading around the globe, eventually affecting films such as the Angel’s Egg and El Topo, amongst others. (Later the idiosyncratic Salvador Dali explained it as: "There is only one diference between a madman and me, I am not mad").

Symbolism - Applied use of any iconic representations which carry particular conventional meanings. "Symbolism" may refer to a way of choosing representative symbols abstractly rather than literally, allowing broader interpretation of their meaning than more literal concept-representations allow.

Syncretism - The attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. It is especially associated with the attempt to merge and analogize several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, and thus assert an underlying unity.


Taoism - A group of Chinese religious and philosophical traditions. Philosophical Taoism emphasizes various themes found in the Daodejing and Zhuangzi such as "nonaction" (wu wei), emptiness, detachment, receptiveness, spontaneity, the strength of softness, the relativism of human values, and the search for a long life. Religious Taoism is not clearly separated from philosophy, but incorporates a number of supernatural beliefs in gods, ghosts, ancestral spirits, and practices such as Taoist alchemy and qigong.

Teleologism - The supposition that there is design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in the works and processes of nature, and the philosophical study of that purpose. Teleology stands in contrast to philosophical naturalism, and both ask questions separate from the questions of science. While science investigates natural laws and phenomena, Philosophical naturalism and teleology investigate the existence or non-existence of an organizing principle behind those natural laws and phenonema. Philosophical naturalism asserts that there are no such principles. Teleology asserts that there are.

Theism - The belief in one or more gods or goddesses. More specifically, it may also mean the belief in God, a god, or gods, who is/are actively involved in maintaining the Universe. A theist can also take the position that he does not have sufficient evidence to "know" whether God or gods exist, although he believes it through faith.

Monotheism - The belief in a single, universal, all-encompassing deity. Zoroastrianism and the Abrahamic religions are considered Monotheist.

Classical theism - refers to traditional ideas of the monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Classical theism holds that God is an absolute, eternal, all-knowing (omniscient), all-powerful (omnipotent), and perfect being. God is related to the world as its cause, but is unaffected by the world (immutable) . He is transcendent over the world which exists relative to him as a temporal effect.

Deism - A form of monotheism in which it is believed that one god exists. However, a deist rejects the idea that this god intervenes in the world. Hence any notion of special revelation is impossible, and the nature of god can only be known through reason and observation from nature. A deist thus rejects the miraculous, and the claim to knowledge made for religious groups and texts.

Cosmotheism - Synonym for pantheism (see below).

Monistic theism - The type of monotheism found in Hinduism. This type of theism is different from the Semitic religions as it encompasses panentheism, monism, and at the same time includes the concept of a personal God as an universal, omnipotent supreme being. The other types of monotheism are qualified monism, the school of Ramanuja or Vishishtadvaita, which admits that the universe is part of God, or Narayana, a type of panentheism, but there is a plurality of souls within this supreme Being and Dvaita, which differs in that it is dualistic, as God is separate and not panentheistic.

Pantheism - The view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence and/or the universe (the sum total of all that is was and shall be) is represented or personified in the theological principle of ‘God’. The existence of a transcendent supreme extraneous to nature is denied. Depending on how this is understood, such a view may be presented as tantamount to atheism, deism or theism.

Pandeism - A type of pantheism that combines the pantheistic belief of God being identical to the Universe with the idea from deism (above) that God is revealed by rational examination and does not intervene in the Universe.

Panentheism - The theological position that God is immanent within the Universe, but also transcends it. It is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe. In panentheism, God is viewed as creator and/or animating force behind the universe, and the source of universal morality. The term is closely associated with the Logos of Greek philosophy in the works of Herakleitos, which pervades the cosmos and whereby all things were made.

Substance Monotheism - found e.g. in some indigenous African religions, holds that the many gods are different forms of a single underlying substance, and that this underlying substance is God. This view has some similarities to the Christian trinitarian view of three persons sharing one nature.

Transtheism - Assumes the existence of God as an absent Deity and the ultimate concept of God?s existence is transcendent and external to all other forms of existence, which implies an impersonal, non-anthropomorphic, non-universemorphic or even non-cosmosmorphic being and view of God. In transtheism, God has one primary attribute, transcendence.

Nontheism - The absence of belief in both the existence and non-existence of a deity (or deities, or other numinous phenomena). The word is often employed as a blanket term for all belief systems that are not theistic, including atheism (both strong and weak) and agnosticism, as well as certain Eastern religions like Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism.

Polytheism - Belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. Most ancient religions were polytheistic, holding to pantheons of traditional deities, often accumulated over centuries of cultural interchange and experience. The belief in many gods does not contradict or preclude also believing in an all-powerful all-knowing supreme being.

Henotheism - Devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of other gods. Coined by monotheism in principle and a polytheism in fact. Variations on the term have been inclusive monotheism and monarchial polytheism, designed to differentiate differing forms of the phenomenon.

Open theism - Also known as free will theism, is a theological movement that has developed within Evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas regarded by some as a synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology. Several ideas within Classical theism (a designation which is not to be taken as inclusive of all of orthodox theism) state that God is immutable, impassible, and timeless. Classical Theists also believed that God fully determines the future; thus, humanity does not have libertarian free will, or, if free, that its freedom must necessarily be compatible with God’s determining actions. Contrary to many of these ideas within classical theism, open theism is a foundational theology that attempts to explain the practical relationship between the free will of man and the sovereignty of God. Based on traditional Arminian theology, open theism expounds on the idea of free will. One of the key advocates for open theism, Dr. John E. Sanders, describes the view of God’s sovereignty: That God changes in some respects implies that God is temporal, working with us in time. God, at least since Creation, experiences duration. God is everlasting through time rather than timelessly eternal... We believe that God could have known every event of the future had God decided to create a fully determined universe. However, in our view, God decided to create beings with interdeterministic freedom which implies that God chose to create a universe in which the future is not entirely knowable, even for God. For many open theists, the "future" is not a present reality - it does not exist - and God knows reality as it is. Practically, open theism makes the case for a personal God who is able to be influenced through prayer, decisions, and actions of people. Although unknowing of the future, God has predictive (anticipatory) foreknowledge of the future through his intimate knowledge of each individual. As such, he is able to anticipate the future, yet remains fluid to respond and react to prayer and decisions made either contrary or advantageous to His plan or presuppositions.

Theological noncognitivism - The argument that religious language, and specifically words like "God" (capitalized), are not cognitively meaningful. It is cited as proof of the nonexistence of anything named "God", and therefore is a basis for atheism. There are two main arguments: Kai Nielsen used verifiability theory of meaning to conclude that religious language is meaningless because it is not verifiable, proving weak atheism. George H. Smith used an attribute-based approach to argue that the concept "god" has no meaningful attributes, only negatively defined or relational attributes, making it meaningless leading to the conclusion that "god does not exist", thus proving strong atheism.

Thomism - The philosophical school that followed in the legacy of Thomas Aquinas. The word comes from the name of its originator, whose summary work Summa Theologiae has arguably been second to only the Bible in importance to the Catholic Church.

Totalitarianism - A typology employed by political scientists to describe modern regimes in which the state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior. Totalitarian regimes mobilize entire populations in support of the state and a political ideology, and do not tolerate activities by individuals or groups such as labor unions, churches and political parties that are not directed toward the state’s goals. They maintain themselves in power by means of secret police, propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, and widespread use of terror tactics.

Transcendental idealism - The philosophy of Immanuel Kant and later Kantian and German Idealist philosophers; a view according to which our experience is not about the things as they are in themselves, but about the things as they appear to us. It differs from standard (empirical) idealism in that it does not claim that the objects of our experiences would be in any sense within our mind. The idea is that whenever we experience something, we experience it as it is for ourselves: the object is real as well as mind-independent, but is in a sense corrupted by our cognition (by the categories and the forms of sensibility, space and time). Transcendental idealism denies that we could have knowledge of the thing in itself. A view that holds the opposite is called transcendental realism.

Transcendentalism - A group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that advocates that there is an ideal spiritual state that ‘transcends’ the physical and empirical and is only realized through a knowledgeable intuitive awareness that is conditional upon the individual. The concept emerged in New England in the early-to mid-nineteenth century. It is sometimes called "American Transcendentalism" to distinguish it from other uses of the word transcendental. It began as a protest against the general state of culture and society at the time, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard and the doctrine of the Unitarian church which was taught at Harvard Divinity School. The term transcendentalism sometimes serves as shorthand for "transcendental idealism". Another alternative meaning for transcendentalism is the classical philosophy that God transcends the manifest world. As John Scotus Erigena put it to Frankish king Charles the Bald in the year 840 A.D., "We do not know what God is. God himself doesn’t know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being."

Transtheism - See its entry under theism, above.


Universalism - Synonym for moral universalism, as a compromise between moral relativism and moral absolutism.

Utilitarianism - Theory of ethics based on quantitative maximization of total welfare for a population (usually all humans, though other formulations have been proposed, including all sentient life). It is a form of consequentialism. Welfare is generally described hedonistically. Utilitarianism is sometimes incorrectly summarized as "The greatest happiness for the greatest number." As the distribution of happiness is irrelevant to utilitarian calculations, the greatest number component of this common phrase is misleading. An accurate summary would be, "One ought act so that the consequences of one’s act will produce the greatest possible total welfare across all members of the population."

Utopianism - The many various social and political movements, and a significant body of religious and secular literature, based upon the idea of paradise on earth. See Utopia.


Value pluralism - The idea that two or more moral values may be equally ultimate (true), yet in conflict. In addition, it postulates that in many cases, such incompatible values, may be rationally incommensurable. As such, value-pluralism is a theory in metaethics, rather than an ethical theory or a set of values in itself. The Oxford historian of ideas, Isaiah Berlin, is accredited with having done the first substantial work on value-pluralism, bringing it to the attention of general academia.

Verificationism - An epistemic theory of truth based on the idea that the mind engages in a certain kind of activity: "verifying" a proposition. The distinctive claim of verificationism is that the result of such verifications is, by definition, truth. That is, truth is reducible to this process of verification.

Vitalism - The doctrine that "vital forces" are active in living organisms, so that life cannot be explained solely by mechanism. That element is often referred to as the "vital spark" or "energy" which some equate with the "soul".

Voluntarism - School of thought which regards the will as superior to the intellect and to emotion. Introduced into philosophical literature by Ferdinand T?es and developed further in the writings of Wilhelm Wundt and Friedrich Paulsen.

Voluntaryism - Theory advocated by Auberon Herbert, stressing "voluntary taxation" and the boycott of electoral politics. The original sources for voluntaryism can be found in Herbert’s book "The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State." Some, such as Benjamin Tucker view Herbert’s philosophy as anarchism, however he never called himself an anarchist as he considered anarchism to be a philosophy that does not provide for defense of person and property.


Youthism - Theory that youth are equal to adults.


Zen Buddhism - A fusion of Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism, practiced chiefly in China and Japan. It places great importance on moment-by-moment awareness and ‘seeing deeply into the nature of things’ by direct experience. The name derives from the Sanskrit word dhyana referring to a particular meditative state.

Zoroastrianism - The religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht).

See also
List of basic philosophy topics 
List of belief systems 
List of philosophies 
Lists of philosophy topics 
List of thought processes 
Wikipedia Portal: thinking