We all know what philosophy is by definition; it’s a set of ideas that undergird a society or way of life. In the case of contemporary Western society, it might be liberalism, capitalism, feminism, etc. However, few people ever ponder over the question: “What are the branches of philosophy?”
But that’s not to say there aren’t any branches: there are four major ones! They are logic and mathematics (with an additional branch in linguistics), metaphysics (i.e. epistemology, ontology, and cosmology), a branch that has been debated for centuries as to whether it’s really philosophy (Aesthetics!), and Ethics (i.e. political philosophy, bioethics, and normative ethics).
This is not to say that all branches are created equal; some branches are more popular and widely studied than others. This is due to the fact that they have been asked and answered questions which the others have not; in other words, their question has been settled. For example, while metaphysics and ethics are both branches of philosophy, metaphysics has been far more studied than ethics: the question of “Is existence merely physical?” is a popular and partially answered question that’s central to metaphysics, as opposed to ethics, where the question of “How do we define right and wrong?” is an old one.
Main Branches of Philosophy
Epistemology: this is the branch of philosophy that deals with how we gain knowledge. It asks questions such as what can we know? How do we know it? What helps us to learn? What are the limits to our knowledge?
Ethics: this is the branch of philosophy that deals with right and wrong, good and evil, people’s duty or obligation to do good or be moral. Ethics looks for a definition of moral terms and then tries to work out what is moral.
Aesthetics: this is the branch of Philosophy that concerns the nature of art and beauty. It also looks at how people respond to art. For example, do all people respond in the same way to art?
History of Philosophy: this is the branch of philosophy that deals with past philosophers and their ideas.
Philosophy Of Religion: This branch of philosophy deals with the question of God’s existence, nature and properties. It also looks at other religious beliefs such as the afterlife and heaven versus hell.
Logic: Logic is a powerful system for reasoning that has been used since ancient times. It’s the bedrock of mathematics, science, and computer programming. In other words, it’s a damn good thing to know!
Metaphysics: Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy. It has two main branches within it: metaphysics in the naturalistic tradition and transcendental metaphysics, which questions our natural perceptions of reality. Metaphysics, along with epistemology and other branches of philosophy, is concerned with the ultimate nature of reality. It asks questions such as: What is the Universe made of? How does it work? When we talk about reality, we have to be very clear about what we mean. We live in a three-dimensional world and, from our perspective at least, it seems that space is 3-dimensional.