The following are selections from various sources and authors, both Christian and non-Christian. They are random, as I have encountered them. Likely, more will be added, although I am not sure that anything substantive can be said about philosophy that has not already been cited here. I have quoted the famous and the unknown for sound opinions may be found where one least expects it, as well as from authorities.

From the new book, Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy, by Gundry and Gould, Eds.

“Simply the mind in operation, unaided by anything supernatural and unfettered by any human authority or any procedure for reaching some pre-given end.” Allen Wood

“It intends to ‘[teach] that unquestionned faith is a virtue?'” Richard Dawkins

“In Plato’s Theaetetus, Socrates asserts that philosophy begins in wonder.”

“Philosophy is … a domain of inquiry… an activity… the pursuit of knowledge or the pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge…. a way of life that accords primary importance to certain kinds of intellectual virtues…. a systematic body of doctrines concerning the nature of things and the proper conduct of life…. the discipline that addresses questions for which we do not yet know how to produce—agreed answers using the methods of other established disciplines…. many questions that are now clearly questions of physics were once questions of philosophy…. there are no agreed answers to the questions that are addressed in those subdisciplines, and there are no agreed methods for resolving disagreements about the answers to those questions. Graham Oppy

Rudolf Carnap holds that the role of philosophy is to analyze and clarify the language of science, and to formulate and recommend alternative languages. He holds that there are languages which differ in expressive power, not merely as notational variants. (The difference between intuitionistic logic and classical logic is an important example here, as is the difference between the language of Newtonian mechanics and the language of relativistic mechanics.) He also holds that there is no one correct language. Different languages may be useful for different purposes; it is no part of the philosopher’s job to prescribe this or that language, merely to analyze, to clarify, and to suggest alternatives. This idea has become known as the Principle of Tolerance; from the 1930s on, it is fundamental to Carnap’s view of what philosophy is and how it differs from science. (That there is such a difference is a point which Carnap never questions.)

Noah Webster, 1828 Dictionary

“(Philosophy is) literally, the love of wisdom. But in modern acceptation (19th century), philosophy is a general term denoting an explanation of the reasons of things; or an investigation of the causes of all phenomena both of mind and of matter. When applied to any particular department of knowledge, it denotes the collection of general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena or facts relating to that subject, are comprehended. Thus, that branch of philosophy which treats of God … is called theology; that which treats of nature, is called physics or natural philosophy; that which treats of man is called logic and ethics, or moral philosophy; that which treats of the mind is called intellectual or mental philosophy, or metaphysics.

The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness.

True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.

Hypothesis or system on which natural effects are explained. We shall in vain interpret their words by the notions of our philosophy and the doctrines in our schools. Reasoning; argumentation. Course of sciences read in the schools.”

Will Durant

“Philosophy … the synthetic interpretation of all experience…. a synthesis for wisdom.” (“To the Reader,” part of front matter without page number).

“Philosophy … (deals) with problems not yet open to the methods of science–problems like good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death…. (is) a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown (as in metaphysics), or of the inexactly known (as in ethics or political philosophy); it is the front trench in the siege of truth…. (is) the uncertain and the unexplored .… tell(s) us when to heal and when to kill…. to criticize and coordinate ends…. interpretation and synthesis of ideals and ends…. (gives) purpose and a whole…. gives us wisdom.” [Extracted from “To the Reader” and “Introduction” to The Story of Philosophy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1926.)]

“Philosophy begins when one learns to doubt—particularly to doubt one’s cherished beliefs, one’s dogmas and one’s axioms. Who knows how these cherished beliefs became certainties with us, and whether some secret wish did not furtively beget them, clothing desire in the dress of thought? There is no real philosophy until the mind turns round and examines itself. Gnothi seauton, said Socrates: Know thyself…. there is an infinitely worthier subject than all these trees and stones (of the ‘physical philosophers’), and even all those stars; there is the mind of man. What is man and what can he become.” (Ibid., page 9, comments on Socrates)

Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences…. aims at the logical clarification of thoughts…. is not a body of doctrine but an activity…. does not result in philosophical propositions, but rather in the clarification of propositions…. settles controversies about the limits of natural science.” (Quoted in Gordon Clark, Language and Theology (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1980), page 26.

Dr. Clark’s summary of these statements is: “These theses and others like them not only limit philosophy to a study of language, but limit knowledge to the results of the positive sciences. Other so-called philosophic or religious language is nonsense.” (Page 26)

Paul Graham (computer programmer, successful entrepreneur, student of philosophy)

The works (that philosophers) produced continued to attract new readers. Traditional philosophy occupies a kind of singularity in this respect. If you write in an unclear way about big ideas, you produce something that seems tantalizingly attractive to inexperienced but intellectually ambitious students. Til one knows better, it’s hard to distinguish something that’s hard to understand because the writer was unclear in his own mind from something like a mathematical proof that’s hard to understand because the ideas it represents are hard to understand. To someone who hasn’t learned the difference, traditional philosophy seems extremely attractive: as hard (and therefore impressive) as math, yet broader in scope.

Garrett J. DeWeese and J. P. Moreland

‘Philosophy is thinking critically about questions that really matter.’

‘At a more developed level, ‘philosophy’ refers to a body of knowledge, often the subject of college courses, which organizes and presents the thinking of major thinkers throughout the ages about such things as reality, values, and knowledge.’

‘At a still more refined level, ‘philosophy’ is the specialized activity engaged in by certain ‘professional thinkers’ who build on the thought of those who have gone before, utilizing certain tools and methods, with the goal of developing, presenting, and defending carefully examined conclusions about reality, values, and knowledge. Since philosophy is above all concerned with discerning the truth about these things, it is natural that philosophy has influenced every corner of life–both inside and outside academia–and that philosophical terms, tools, arguments, and conclusions can be found in almost any book pulled from the library shelf. (Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult, page 10)

P. Moreland and William Lane Craig

(Philosophy is) an exciting and fascination journey … the exploration of some of life’s most important ideas… about reality, God, the soul, knowledge and truth, goodness, and much, much more…. The ideas one really believes largely determine the kind of person one becomes …. (Philosophy helps determine whether one’s views are (rational or irrational, true or false, carefully formed and precise or conveniently formed and fuzzy. (Pages 11-12)

Scholars agree that there is no airtight definition that expresses a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for classifying some activity as philosophical, conditions which all and only philosophy satisfies.

Philosophy is the attempt to think hard about life, the world as a whole and the things that matter most in order to secure knowledge and wisdom about these matters…. (is) the attempt to think rationally and critically about life’s most important questions in order to obtain knowledge and wisdom about them…. can help someone form a rationally justified, true worldview, that is, an ordered set of propositions that one believes, especially propositions about life’s most important questions. (Page 13)

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003)

Gordon H. Clark

From a pedagogical viewpoint the history of philosophy enables the student to see the problems in their simplest forms. These problems have become exceedingly complex in modern times, too complex for first lessons…. Just as arithmetic and geometry are quite up to date in spite of their Greek origins, so too the problems of philosophy, whether in their extremely complex form of in their simpler Greek dress, are the same problems. To say that that the study of philosophy should be preferred to the study of the history of philosophy, is a false disjunction. The history of philosophy is philosophy.” Or, if reversed, philosophy is the study of the history of philosophy—Ed. Thales to Dewey (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1957), page 5.

Philosophizing is an act of worship. (Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things, page 19.

‘In times of war, poverty, famine, and anarchy, philosophy does not flourish.’ (Ibid, page 248)

Philosophy and religion are identical’ was the view of Saint Augustine. (Clark, Thales to Dewey, page 251)

Soren Kierkegaard

“In relation to Christianity, systematic philosophy is merely skilled in the use of all sorts of diplomatic phraseology, which deceives the unsuspicious. Christianity as understood by the speculative philosopher is something different from Christianity as expounded for the simple. For them it is a paradox; but the speculative philosopher knows how to abrogate the paradox. So that it is not Christianity that constitutes the truth; no, it is the philosopher’s understanding of Christianity that constitutes the truth of Christianity.” Concluding Unscientific Postscript, page 200, quoted in Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, (Waco, Texas: Word Publishers, 1976), page 183.

Rick Garlikov

‘Philosophy’ in ordinary language is perhaps most often meant to refer to a set of guidelines, precepts, or to an attitude, such as in comments like ‘Jones’ philosophy is not to worry about the future’ or ‘It is the philosophy of this company that everyone should be able to take over for anyone else in his/her department at a moment’s notice; thus it is imperative that you all learn each others’ work as well as your own.’ Or ‘Our philosophy is ‘all for one and one for all’.’  In the movie Wall Street the philosophy of the tycoon Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) is that ‘Greed is good.’  This use of the term philosophy is sometimes referred to as a ‘philosophy of life’ or a ‘philosophy of business’.  It is not related to philosophy in the sense of sustained, systematic, reflective analysis of any topic.

Excellent summary article with much more. How to summarize?

Alvin Plantinga

“Philosophy is just thinking hard about something.” (Quoted in Moreland, Philosophical Foundations…, page 28.)

“Philosophy is in large part a clarification, systematization, articulation, relating, and deepening of pre-philosophical opinion. We come to philosophy with a range of opinions about the world and humankind and the place of the latter in the former; and in philosophy we think about these matters, systematically articulate our views by finding unexpected interconnections and by discovering and answering unanticipated questions. Of course we may come to change our minds by virtue of philosophical endeavor; we may discover incompatibilities or other infelicities. But we come to philosophy with pre-philosophical opinions; we can do no other…. Philosophy is many things. I said earlier that it is a matter of systematizing, developing, and deepening one’s pre-philosophical opinions. It is that; but it is also an arena for the articulation and interplay of commitments and allegiances fundamentally religious in nature; it is an expression of deep and fundamental perspectives, ways of viewing ourselves and the world and God. Among its most important and pressing projects are systematizing, deepening, exploring, and articulating this perspective, and exploring its bearing on the rest of what we think and do.” (“Advice to Philosophers”)

Arthur F. Holmes

“There is no one philosophic method. Different philosophers at different junctures of history have developed the procedure which seemed most promising in view of their own purposes and of the current methods in other disciplines. The Socratic dialectic differs markedly from the Aristotelian syllogism, the Cartesian deduction, and the Hegelian dialectic. Contemporary phenomenology and analysis are different again. yet each method reflects a philosophical viewpoint, a larger epistemology and even metaphysical presuppositions.” (Nash, The Philosophy of Gordon Clark, 1968, page 202)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Realism

[While the following is more narrowly focused on one subject, “realism,” of philosophy, it demonstrates the wide variety of subjects that are included in this (only) topic of philosophy.]

Realism. “The question of the nature and plausibility of realism arises with respect to a large number of subject matters, including ethics, aesthetics, causation, modality, science, mathematics, semantics, and the everyday world of macroscopic material objects and their properties. Although it would be possible to accept (or reject) realism across the board, it is more common for philosophers to be selectively realist or non-realist about various topics: thus it would be perfectly possible to be a realist about the everyday world of macroscopic objects and their properties, but a non-realist about aesthetic and moral value. In addition, it is misleading to think that there is a straightforward and clear-cut choice between being a realist and a non-realist about a particular subject matter. It is rather the case that one can be more-or-less realist about a particular subject matter. Also, there are many different forms that realism and non-realism can take. The question of the nature and plausibility of realism is so controversial that no brief account of it will satisfy all those with a stake in the debates between realists and non-realists.


“Ordinary language philosophy is a philosophical school that approached traditional philosophical problems as rooted in misunderstandings philosophers develop by forgetting what words actually mean in a language. These approaches typically involve eschewing philosophical ‘theories’ in favour of close attention to the details of the use of everyday, ‘ordinary’ language.”

Greg Koukl

(Philosophy is) to understand the language of ideas…. and to understand ideas…. (The) discipline that has traditionally addressed those things (ideas) … is philosophy.

There is a difference between the tools of philosophy, which are the fundamental tools of thought… and the opinions of philosophers on different things.

J. Ayer

The traditional disputes of philosophers are, for the most part, as unwarranted as they are unfruitful. The surest way to end them is to establish beyond question what should be the Purpose and method of a philosophical enquiry. And this is by no means so difficult a task as the history of philosophy would lead one to suppose. For if there are any questions which science leaves it to philosophy to answer, a straightforward process of elimination must lead to their discovery. (Quoted in Titus et al from Language, Truth, and Logic, 2nd rev. ed., New York: Dover, 1946, page 33)

John Frame

“It is difficult for me to draw any sharp distinction between a Christian theology and a Christian philosophy. Philosophy generally is understood as an attempt to understand the world in it broadest, most general features. It includes metaphysics, or ontology (the study of being, of what “is”), epistemology (the study of knowing), and the theory of values (ethics, esthetics, etc.). If one seeks to develop a truly Christian philosophy, he will certainly be doing so under the authority of Scripture and thus will be applying Scripture to philosophical questions. As such, he would be doing theology, according to our definition. Christian philosophy, then, is a subdivision of theology. Furthermore, since philosophy is concerned with reality in a broad, comprehensive sense, it may well take it as its task to ‘apply the Word of God to all areas of life.’ That definition makes philosophy identical with, not a subdivision of, theology.

If there are any differences between the Christian theologian and the Christian philosopher, they would probably be (1) that the Christian philosopher spends more time studying natural revelation than the theologian, and the theologian spends more time studying Scripture, and (2) that the theologian seeks a formulation that is an application of Scripture and thus absolutely authoritative. His goal is a formulation before which he can utter, “Thus saith the Lord.” A Christian philosopher, however, may have a more modest goal—a wise human judgment that accords with what Scripture teaches, though it is not necessarily warranted by Scripture.

A Christian philosopher can be of great value in helping us to articulate in detail the biblical world view. We must beware, however, of “philosophical imperialism.” The comprehensiveness of philosophy has often led philosophers to seek to rule over all other disciplines, even over theology, over God’s Word. Even philosophers attempting to construct a Christian philosophy have been guilt of this, and some have even insisted that Scripture itself cannot be understood properly unless it is read in a way prescribed by the philosopher! Certainly, philosophy can help us to interpret Scripture; philosophers often have interesting insights about language, for example. But the line must be drawn: where a philosophical scheme contradicts Scripture or where it seeks to inhibit the freedom of exegesis without Scriptural warrant, it must be rejected.” (Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, page 85-86—Ed’s emphases)

James Jordan

“Philosophy… a word for non-religion, as least traditionally…. an icon of the mind… more subtle than (idolatrous) worship through images…. The development of ‘philosophy’ … which came about the same time as the prophetic movement was raised up by God among His people… Buddha … Confucius … Lao-Tse … Plato and Aristotle.

Virtually from the beginning, philosophy was political philosophy, designed to support the city of man. Philosophy was the religion of the state, the new form of the “court prophet” … (rejecting) personal gods and worship … (debating) what ‘ultimate being was like. Full-fledged philosophy arrived with Socrates and Plato, who sough to bring this horrible thinking into the city and persuade the people to stop worshipping personal spirits and refound their cities on the empty consolations of philosophy….

The differences between Confucius, Plato, and Buddha should not blind us to their fundamental sameness…. Lao-Tse, the Plato of China, advocated an inner contemplation. Plato advocated a new and more radically anti-God political order, wherein contemplated abstraction such as the Good would replace the worship of living gods. Buddha took a more anti-political position, leaving the city to do its business while advocating a kind of dropping our of society. But this position is still in the overall context of doing philosophy (religion) in political terms. Aristotle, heir of Plato, managed to reconcile Plato’s radical ideas with practical politics, as Confucius, heir of Lao-Tse, did in China.’

Carl F. H. Henry

In Augustine’s view, philosophy is serviceable to explicate the wisdom found in Scripture. Since the living God has spoken in special revelation known in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, the Christian philosopher should not hesitate to make full use of what the Greek philosophers did not know. The task of philosophy is to show men the way to blessedness, and Christianity exhibits this way as provided by Jesus Christ alone, Christianity can be considered a philosophy, the term being sufficiently broad to include theology. Although in his early works against skepticism, he defines certain normative principles without reference to Scripture, divine revelation and authority rather than human reasoning are for him the starting point of ‘Christian philosophy’; not philosophical speculation, but inspired Scripture constitutes the gateway to truth. (Henry, God, Revelation…, pages 183-184, Vol. 1)

Stephen Evans

Enlightenment critiques of the reasonableness of religious belief point to defects not so much in religious belief as in the conceptions of knowledge uncritically adopted as the basis of these critiques. Maybe religious knowledge looks dubious because we have the wrong idea about what it is to know something and how we know what we know. (Quoted in Moreland, Philosophical Foundations…, page 154)

William Shakespeare

“Adversity’s sweet milk, philosophy.”

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.

Herman Bavinck (1854-1921)

Philosophy always has a special character about it and can become the portion of only the few. These select ones, who can devote their whole lives to the discipline of learning, can traverse only a small part of its terrain, and they remain strangers to the rest. Whatever satisfaction knowledge can give, therefore, it can never, because of this special and limited character, satisfy the general deep needs which were planted in human nature at creation, and which therefore are present in everybody.

Philosophy, whenever after a period of decay … enters upon a period of revival again, always begins with an extraordinary and exaggerated expectation. At such a time it lives in the hope that by means of continued serious investigation it will solve the riddle of the world. But always after this young over-excitement the old disillusionment enters in. So far from decreasing, the problems increase as the study proceeds. What seemed to be self-evident proves to be a new mystery, and the end of all knowledge is then again the sad and sometimes despairing confession that man walks about on the earth in riddles, and that life and destiny are mysteries.

Philosophy … even though it could arrive at much more certainty that it is now able to achieve, would still leave the heart of man unsatisfied. For knowledge without virtue, without a moral basis, becomes an instrument in the hands of sin for conceiving and executing greater evil, and then the hear that is filled with knowledge enters into the service of a depraved heart. In this sense the Apostle writes: Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not love, I am nothing (I Corinthians 13:2). (Our Reasonable Faith, pages 20-21)

These modern movements are all alike seeking after religion, after the supreme good, abiding happiness, true being, absolute worth. Even though the word “religion” be avoided and the new-fashioned term “world-view” preferred, in point of fact the satisfaction of no other need is aimed at than that which used to be supplied by religion. As to the proper definition of such a worldview, there exists considerable divergence of opinion. But whether … we define philosophy as the theory of “the determination of values” … the science of “normal consciousness”, or … a mode of viewing the world and life “which shall satisfy both the demands of reason and the needs of the heart,” in any case it is plain that philosophy but seeks to vindicate the higher ideals of humanity, to satisfy its deepest needs. Philosophy wishes itself to serve as religion, and from an attitude of contempt for all theology has veered round to a profession of being itself a search after God. (Ibid, pages 31-32)

Scott Oliphint

‘There is no significant body of knowledge that is taken to be universally true with respect to the subject matter of philosophy…. a discipline such as philosophy has had a few millennia to define itself, and has thus far not been successful.’ (Reasons for Faith, page ix)

Greg Bahnsen (1948-1955)

“Just think of the Continental rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz), who began with supposedly clear and distinct, ‘self-evident’ ideas (notice their internal, subjective character), and yet derived from them radically and embarrassingly different conclusions about reality (dualism, monism, pluralism). Then consider the British empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume), who traced the mind’s ideas back to individual sensation (notice again the internal, subjective locus), only to render a ‘substance’ that unites properties inexplicable (Locke), to dispense with material substance (Berkeley), and then to lose altogether any mental substance or ‘self’ that unites perceptions (Hume). As Kant concluded, to the degree the mind knows its own inner contents (constituted by its own activity in forming the input of the senses), it still has no knowledge of things-in-themselves outside the mind. The predicament is that man as a knower can never ‘get outside’ the ideas formed within himself. When the unbeliever begins his philosophizing with himself at the center, he ends up unable to escape himself (subjectivism); and since every unbeliever faces the same dilemma, nobody can speak with authority about objective reality for anybody else (relativism).” (Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis, 315)

Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788)

“Philosophical genius expresses its power through striving, by means of abstraction, to make what is present absent; it disrobes actual objects into naked concepts and merely conceivable attributes, into pure appearances and phenomena.” Hamann was a contemporary of Kant, even to living in the same town (!), experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity, and was a strategic force in the Counter-Enlightenment known as Sturm and Drang.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

“We may note one peculiar feature of philosophy. If someone asks the question what is mathematics, we can give him a dictionary definition, let us say the science of number, for the sake of argument. As far as it goes this is an uncontroversial statement… Definitions may be given in this way of any field where a body of definite knowledge exists. But philosophy cannot be so defined. Any definition is controversial and already embodies a philosophic attitude. The only way to find out what philosophy is, is to do philosophy.” (The Wisdom of the West, page 7)

Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977)

“The intent of philosophy is to give us a theoretical coherence of meaning … It is a temporal coherence…. Within this temporal coherence reality displays a great diversity of modal aspects of number, space motion , energy … the economic, aesthetic, jural, moral, and faith aspects…. All these modal aspects are interwoven with one another in a cosmic order of time. (New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Volume I, page 24, quoted in Gordon H. Clark, The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark, page 97)

René Descartes (1596-1650)

Descartes, writing to Picot, who translated the Principia Philosophiae into French, observed: “Thus the whole of philosophy is like a tree: the roots are metaphysics, the trunk is physics, and the branches that issue from the trunk are all the other sciences . . .”

Friederich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Gradually it has become clear to me what every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir; also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy constituted the real germ of life from which the whole plant had grown.

Indeed, if one would explain how the most abstruse metaphysical claims of a philosopher really came about, it is always well (and wise) to ask first: at what morality does all this (does he) aim? Accordingly, I do not believe that a “drive to knowledge” is the father of philosophy; but rather that another drive has, here as elsewhere, employed understanding (and misunderstanding) as a mere instrument. But anyone who considers the basic drives of a man to see to what extent they may have been at play just here as inspiring spirits (or demons or kobolds) will find that all of them have done philosophy at some time—and that every single one of them would like only too well to represent just itself as the ultimate purpose of existence and the legitimate master of all the other drives. For every drive wants to be master—and it attempts to philosophize in that spirit.

To be sure: among scholars who are really scientific (systematic, thorough) men, things may be different—“better,” if you like—there you may really find something like a drive for knowledge, some small, independent clockwork that , once well wound, works on vigorously without any essential participation from all the other drives of the scholar. The real interests of the scholar, therefore lie usually somewhere else—say, in his family, in making money, or in politics. Indeed, it is almost a matter of total indifference whether his little machine is placed at this or that spot in science (19th century meaning), and whether the “promising” young worker turns himself into a good philologist or an expert on fungi or a chemist; it does not characterize him that he becomes this or that. In the philosopher, conversely, there is nothing whatever that is impersonal; and above all, his morality bears decided and decisive witness to who he is—that is, in what order of rank the innermost drives of his nature stand to each other. (Beyond Good and Evil, trans. by Walter Kaufmann, Vintage Books, 1966, I6)

Martin Heidegger (1889-1876)

Philosophy, in its radical self-positing questioningness, must be in principle atheistic. (Quoted in Hill and Rauser, Christian Philosophy A-Z, 83)

Merold Westphal on Hegel and Kant (by Peter Leithart)

For Hegel, Kantian philosophy is not in fact philosophy. Philosophy is about the knowing of the Absolute, in which all oppositions are overcome. Kantian “critique of knowing” is actually the death of philosophy, since it confines knowledge to finite reality, excluding the Absolute that is the object of philosophical investigation and contemplation. Hegel is hostile to the notion that knowledge is an “instrument,” a hostility that manifests itself in hostility to the notion that knowledge is designed for control. If the object of philosophical knowledge is the Absolute, then philosophical knowledge is not about power. He claims that utility, the equation of knowledge with manipulative or technical power, is a great idol of the modern age. When knowledge is conceived of as instrumental, moreover, there is necessarily a distance between the knower and the object of knowledge, rather than the object being involved with the knower. Leithart on Westphal on Hegel

Russ Bush

It is impossible to stop people from thinking It is, therefore, of some importance to lead people to think correctly in every area of their intellectual life. That is the basic task of all true philosophy. A philosopher is one who “thinks about thinking” and who tries to lead others to enhance and clarify their thoughts. The word “philosophy” is a combination of two Greek terms: (1)philos – love; (2) sophia – wisdom: and originally meant simply “the love of wisdom.” The word came into general use in the fifth century before Christ.

The specific meaning of the term has not been constant in the history of thought. Plato thought the philosopher was one who understood the essence of things as opposed to one who knew only the shadows of the material world. Aristotle considered philosophy to be the universal science, and all types of knowledge as branches of philosophy. Metaphysics was considered “first philosophy” because of its foundational importance as the study of the nature and structure of all reality and of the origin and general structure of the known universe. As knowledge increased, philosophy became the unifying factor of all specializations, and the term “philosophy” more and more ceased to be applied to the various sciences and became limited to metaphysics.

In modern times, the meaning has changed even more. In popular terms, philosophy is often used as a synonym for “theory” or for that which is abstract rather than practical. Scholars also attach special meanings to the word. Bertrand Russell tried to limit its current usage to “logic” and to questions of methodology. E. S. Brightman (a personalist of Boston University) proposed to define philosophy as the attempt to think coherently about the whole of experience.

A short definition in keeping with modern usage would be: “Philosophy is the critical evaluation of all kinds of data for the purpose of discovering and establishing valid (and true?) beliefs.” The most widely accepted meaning of the term would seem to be one which emphasizes philosophy as an intellectual discipline of critical examination and evaluation relating to the basis for “beliefs” about anything, as a part of humankind’s instinctive desire to search for the ultimate and true nature of reality….

To be valid a philosophical system or viewpoint must use sound and accurate procedures of reasoning and must be based on the whole range of human experience with the broadest possible inclusion of data. The goal is to provide an integrated, persuasive, believable worldview. Its method, then, is to build a synthesis of learning.

Many people have the impression that philosophy is necessar­ily profound and abstract. They think that only the very wise and scholarly can even comprehend the subject, but this is far from being necessarily true. Some philosophical writing, like that found in any other intellectual pursuit, will be more difficult to compre­hend than the rest. But everyone should be able to survey the main ideas and grasp the central issues.

The term “philosophy” also refers to the sum of a person’s ideas, convictions, and attitudes, whether justifiable or not. In this sense everyone has a philosophy, whether they articulate it or not.

As Christians we are interested in knowing all of God’s truth. Thus we seek to articulate our thoughts and submit them to serious examination and evaluation. This is at least part of the task of a Christian philosopher. A Handbook for Christian Philosophy, pp. 288-289.