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See also List of philosophical theories. This is a glossary of philosophy:

Philosophy articles
Index: (A–C) (D–H) (I–Q) (R–Z)
Philosophers: (A–C) (D–H) (I–Q) (R–Z)
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A

  • 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 (18th-century and early 19th-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.
  • Absurdismphilosophy 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, nor 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 19th 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-primitivism - an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. Primitivists argue that the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation. They advocate a return to non-"civilized" ways of life through deindustrialisation, abolition of division of labour or specialization, and abandonment of technology.
  • 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[1] – 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 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.
  • Ascriptivism [1]–"The view that human beings are to be held responsible for their actions even if determinism is true."
  • Associationalism – 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".[2] 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"[2]
  • 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 atomismBertrand 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.

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