A History of Western Philosophy | Study Guide

Bertrand Russell

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A History of Western Philosophy | Glossary


a posteriori: (adj) derived from observation or experience; refers to knowledge arrived at through contact of the senses with external reality

a priori: (adj) derived by reasoning or through self-evident propositions and not from experience; refers to knowledge preexisting in the mind before experience

analytic: (n) a statement whose predicate is contained in the subject. Example: "Adjunct professors are teachers," or "a triangle has three angles."

Arian: (adj) pertaining to the followers of Arianism, who believed that Jesus Christ was not equal to God the Father (the first person of the Trinity)

empiricism: (n) doctrine that all ideas originate in experience and the world is knowable only through the senses

epistemology: (n) a theory of knowledge; the study of how human beings know what they know

essence: (n) the key feature of an object or concept establishing its nature

idealism: (n) an ontological (related to the nature of being) idea that everything can be boiled down to a spiritual, mental, or otherwise nonphysical reality

logic: (n) a branch of philosophy that studies the structure of valid inferences

mathematics: (n) the science of numbers and their operations, which includes the study of space, structure, and change; or as pure mathematics, the study of mathematics itself

metaphysics: (n) the study of being, first causes, or things that do not change, which includes such "religious" ideas as God, the soul, substance

nominalism: (n) doctrine that distinguishes names from reality, claiming that "universals" and other named ideas are merely names and do not correspond with any reality, as opposed to real objects in space and time

ontology: (n) a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being

predicate: (n) the characteristics of the subject or thing under discussion

Pythagoreanism: (n) the philosophy of Pythagoras and his followers, which involved metaphysical beliefs such as transmigration of the soul; more generically, a term used to indicate philosophy based on metaphysical ideas

rationalism: (n) the view that true knowledge is derived primarily from reason, not the senses

reason: (n) in conjunction with rationalism, the working of the mind on material provided by the mind itself in the form of innate ideas

subject: (n) the thing under discussion

substance: (n) the name in philosophy for the most basic, independent reality

synthetic: (n) a statement whose predicate makes a factual claim about the subject, which can be verified or refuted through observation. Example: "Adjunct professors are underpaid."

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