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Metaphilosophy, also called philosophy of philosophy, is the study of the nature, aims, and methods of philosophy. The term is derived from Greek word meta μετά ("after", "beyond", "with") and philosophía φιλοσοφία ("love of wisdom").


The nature of philosophy

The use and meaning of the word "philosophy" has changed throughout history: in Antiquity it encompassed almost any inquiry; for Descartes it was supposed to be the Queen of the Sciences, a sort of ultimate justification; in the time of David Hume "metaphysics" and "morals" could be roughly translated as the human sciences; and contemporary analytic philosophy likes to define itself roughly as inquiry into concepts.

Some authors say that philosophy is fundamentally about critical thinking[1], examining the beliefs we take for granted.[2] Wilfrid Hodges wrote:

Some authors say that that philosophical enquiry is second-order, having concepts, theories and presupposition as its subject matter. It is "thinking about thinking", of a "generally second-order character".[1] Philosophers study, rather than use, the concepts that structure our thinking. However, the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy warns that "the borderline between such 'second-order' reflection, and ways of practising the first-order discipline itself, is not always clear: philosophical problems may be tamed by the advance of a discipline, and the conduct of a discipline may be swayed by philosophical reflection".[4]


The word philosophy is of Ancient Greek origin: φιλοσοφία (philosophía), meaning "love of wisdom."[5][6][7] However, few sources[8] give "love of wisdom" as a possible meaning of the term, and others[2] say the etymology is "not much help".

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