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Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. The word "philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom"
Philosophy is divided into branches. Some of the ones that interest us are
- Metaphysics is the study of the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and body, substance and accident, events and causation. Traditional branches are cosmology and ontology.
- Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge, and whether knowledge is possible. Among its central concerns has been the challenge posed by skepticism and the relationships between truth, belief, and justification.
- Ethics, or "moral philosophy", is concerned primarily with the question of the best way to live, and secondarily, concerning the question of whether this question can be answered. The main branches of ethics are meta-ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Meta-ethics concerns the nature of ethical thought, comparison of various ethical systems, whether there are absolute ethical truths, and how such truths could be known. Ethics is also associated with the idea of morality.
- Political philosophy is the normative study of government and the relationship of individuals (or families and clans) to communities including the state. It, depending on the philosopher, includes questions about justice, law, property, and the rights and obligations of the citizen. Political philosophy and ethics are traditionally inter-linked subjects, as both discuss the question of what is good and how people should live, although there were philosophers that believed that government should not have anything to do with ethics.
- Logic is the study of valid argument forms. Today the subject of logic has two broad divisions: mathematical logic (formal symbolic logic) and what is now called philosophical logic.
- Philosophy of mind deals with the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body, and is typified by disputes between dualism and materialism. In recent years there has been increasing similarity between this branch of philosophy and cognitive science.
- Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy that asks questions about religion.
- Philosophy of language is the philosophical study of the nature of language. Fundamental questions in philosophy of language involve the nature of linguistic meaning, the relation between meaning and truth, and the ways in which language is used in communication. It is distinct from linguistics, although the two disciplines overlap significantly.
 Regional and cultural traditions
Due to the enormous distances in space and time that exist between human cultures, different philosophical traditions (not to be confused 'schools', which share basic views of the world) have arisen. There is much discussion about which traditions existed and which not, but as due to the fact that only a few peoples have ever been completely isolated from the world traditions mostly flow into each other at any given time, so that any given tradition and its characterization is more or less constructed by outsiders and descendants.
 Western Philosophy
Western Philosophy, which is the philosophy of Europe, Arabia and, through colonization, the Americas identifies as analytic (going from the smallest to the largest), descriptive/normative and objective. Therefor many philosophers of this tradition write in an nearly scientific style. Although there were some like Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and many communitarists that stated that everything is in context to each other - so that there own thoughts and ideas are just products of their time. The schools of western philosophy vary through the branches, only some schools represent a whole worldview. This tradition of philosophy inspired modern science and rationalism (both analytic in nature).
 Eastern Philosophy
Eastern philosophy is structured by a holistic (going from the largest to the smallest) worldview and a teacheresque or poetic style of writing. The documentation of its philosophers is of questionable historical accuracy, so it is unknown if Confucius and Laozi ever actually existed, or if their ideas are simply the canonized ideas of hundreds of other unknown people. Eastern philosophy cannot be clearly separated from Eastern religions, as this tradition isn't analytic. Such a thought did not occur to its main adherents, so it consists of mostly universal schools of thought, which penetrate into every branch of philosophy.
 Indian Philosophy
Indian (the subcontinent, not the American natives) philosophy is nearly indistinguishable from religion, being mostly inspired by hinduism and buddhism. Its style swings back and forth between holistic and analytic argumentation. Actual writing of texts was seldom for a long time, as writing in general had a bad reputation for thousands of years. Instead, the philosophical and religious texts have been memorized word for word, to make it easier they mostly rhyme. Ironically this has lead to the texts being better preseverd then the writings of western philosophers, as western scribes often used heavy abrevation and leaving out whole passages of a text - or simply edited to fit better into the christian worldview of the middle ages.
 Other regions
Native Americans did not have a distinct philosophy, but much of thought that could be called philosophic orginiated of its religions. Africa as a continent did for a long time not have a specific tradition, but some philosophers are claimed to be African philosophers even if they stood in the tradition of western philosophy in gerneral, but being ethnically Arabic or African. The claim that Africa has a philosophic tradition is rooted in the attempt to construct an African national identity. Many other regions have a mixture of different tradition being regionally and politically influenced by two different traditions.
 Modern and contemporary philosophy
Due to the effects of colonization, imperialism and globalization the mentioned traditions fuse more and more into a single tradition. Eastern philospher picked up ideas of Western philosphers and vice versa as soon as by the 18th century. The style of these modern works is orientated along the lines of Western philosophy, but some still argument for ideas of other traditions.