Philosophy of life

There are at least two senses in which the term philosophy is used: a formal and an informal sense. In the formal sense, philosophy is an academic study of the fields of aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, as well as social and political philosophy. One's "philosophy of life" is philosophy in the informal sense, as a personal philosophy, whose focus is resolving the existential questions about the human condition.[1]

The term also refers to a specific conception of philosophizing as a way of life,[2] endorsed by the German Lebensphilosophie movement whose main representative is Wilhelm Dilthey[3] and several other Continental philosophers such as Henri Bergson[4] and Pierre Hadot.[2]

The human situation

The human situation appears to be a struggle between what is (existence) and what ought (essence) to be.

Main answers to the existential question

There are at least three prevailing theories on how to respond to the existential question.

Denial of essence

Denial of existence

Affirmation of life

Religion as an attempt to overcome the existential predicament

There are two basic forms of existentialism:

Religious existentialism

Religious existentialism is best exemplified by St. Augustine, Blaise Pascal, Paul Tillich, and the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. Religious existentialism holds that there are two levels of reality, essence, which is the ground of being, and existence. Religion is the ultimate concern in this view.

Atheistic existentialism

Atheistic existentialism is best exemplified by Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. It holds that there is one level of reality, existence. In this view, each person constructs his own unique and temporary essence.

See also



  1. ^ Timothy Fetler, Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion Charts, Sun Press, 1968.
  2. ^ a b Pierre Hadot (1922-2010) by Matthew Sharpe in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  3. ^ Scott Campbell, Paul W. Bruno (eds.), The Science, Politics, and Ontology of Life-Philosophy, Bloomsbury, 2013, p. 8.
  4. ^ Michael Chase, Stephen R. L. Clark, Michael McGhee (eds.), Philosophy as a Way of Life: Ancients and Moderns – Essays in Honor of Pierre Hadot, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, p. 107.

Further reading

External links

Academic journals

Egoism is an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality.


Egotism is the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself, and generally features an inflated opinion of one's personal features and importance. It often includes intellectual, physical, social and other overestimations.The egotist has an overwhelming sense of the centrality of the 'Me', that is to say of their personal qualities. Egotism means placing oneself at the centre of one's world with no concern for others, including those "loved" or considered as "close", in any other terms except those subjectively set by the egotist.


In philosophy, essence is the property or set of properties that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the entity or substance has contingently, without which the substance can still retain its identity. The concept originates rigorously with Aristotle (although it can also be found in Plato), who used the Greek expression to ti ên einai (τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι, literally meaning "the what it was to be" and corresponding to the scholastic term quiddity) or sometimes the shorter phrase to ti esti (τὸ τί ἐστι, literally meaning "the what it is" and corresponding to the scholastic term haecceity) for the same idea. This phrase presented such difficulties for its Latin translators that they coined the word essentia (English "essence") to represent the whole expression. For Aristotle and his scholastic followers, the notion of essence is closely linked to that of definition (ὁρισμός horismos).In the history of western thought, essence has often served as a vehicle for doctrines that tend to individuate different forms of existence as well as different identity conditions for objects and properties; in this logical meaning, the concept has given a strong theoretical and common-sense basis to the whole family of logical theories based on the "possible worlds" analogy set up by Leibniz and developed in the intensional logic from Carnap to Kripke, which was later challenged by "extensionalist" philosophers such as Quine.

Everyday life

Everyday life, daily life or routine life comprises the ways in which people typically act, think, and feel on a daily basis. Everyday life may be described as mundane, routine, natural, habitual, or normal.

Human diurnality means most people sleep at least part of the night and are active in daytime. Most eat two or three meals in a day. Working time (apart from shift work) mostly involves a daily schedule, beginning in the morning. This produces the daily rush hours experienced by many millions, and the drive time focused on by radio broadcasters. Evening is often leisure time. Bathing every day is a custom for many.

Beyond these broad similarities, lifestyles vary and different people spend their days differently. Nomadic life differs from sedentism, and among the sedentary, urban people live differently from rural folk. Differences in the lives of the rich and the poor, or between factory workers and intellectuals, may go beyond their working hours. Many women spend their day in activities greatly different from those of men, and everywhere children do different things than adults.

Existential crisis

An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions if their life has meaning, purpose, or value. It may be commonly, but not necessarily, tied to depression or inevitably negative speculations on purpose in life (e.g., "if one day I will be forgotten, what is the point of all of my work?"). This issue of the meaning and purpose of human existence is a major focus of the philosophical tradition of existentialism.

Human condition

The human condition is "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality". This is a very broad topic which has been and continues to be pondered and analyzed from many perspectives, including those of religion, philosophy, history, art, literature, anthropology, psychology, and biology.

As a literary term, "the human condition" is typically used in the context of ambiguous subjects such as the meaning of life or moral concerns.

Ideal (ethics)

An ideal is a principle or value that one actively pursues as a goal, usually in the context of ethics, and one's prioritization of ideals can serve to indicate the extent of one's dedication to each. For example, someone who espouses the ideal of honesty, but is willing to lie to protect a friend, demonstrates not only devotion to friendship, but also belief in its supersedence of honesty in importance.

The belief in ideals is called ethical idealism.


Intellectualism denotes the use, development, and exercise of the intellect; the practice of being an intellectual; and the Life of the Mind. In the field of philosophy, “intellectualism” occasionally is synonymous with “rationalism”, that is, knowledge mostly derived from reason and ratiocination. Socially, “intellectualism” negatively connotes: single-mindedness of purpose (“too much attention to thinking”) and emotional coldness (“the absence of affection and feeling”).

Lifestyle (sociology)

Lifestyle is the interests, opinions, behaviours, and behavioural orientations of an individual, group, or culture. The term was introduced by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler with the meaning of "a person's basic character as established early in childhood", for example in his 1929 book "The Case of Miss R.". The broader sense of lifestyle as a "way or style of living" has been documented since 1961. Lifestyle is a combination of determining intangible or tangible factors. Tangible factors relate specifically to demographic variables, i.e. an individual's demographic profile, whereas intangible factors concern the psychological aspects of an individual such as personal values, preferences, and outlooks.

A rural environment has different lifestyles compared to an urban metropolis. Location is important even within an urban scope. The nature of the neighborhood in which a person resides affects the set of lifestyles available to that person due to differences between various neighborhoods' degrees of affluence and proximity to natural and cultural environments. For example, in areas within a close proximity to the sea, a surf culture or lifestyle can often be present.


Misanthropy is the general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word's origin is from the Greek words μῖσος (misos, "hatred") and ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, "man, human"). The condition is often confused with asociality.

Normative ethics

Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking.

Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts; and it is distinct from applied ethics in that the former is more concerned with 'who ought one be' rather than the ethics of a specific issue (such as if, or when, abortion is acceptable).

Normative ethics is also distinct from descriptive ethics, as the latter is an empirical investigation of people’s moral beliefs. In this context normative ethics is sometimes called prescriptive, rather than descriptive ethics. However, on certain versions of the meta-ethical view called moral realism, moral facts are both descriptive and prescriptive at the same time.

Most traditional moral theories rest on principles that determine whether an action is right or wrong. Classical theories in this vein include utilitarianism, Kantianism, and some forms of contractarianism. These theories mainly offered the use of overarching moral principles to resolve difficult moral decisions.


An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether legal or moral. There are also obligations in other normative contexts, such as obligations of etiquette, social obligations, religious and possibly in terms of politics, where obligations are requirements which must be fulfilled. These are generally legal obligations, which can incur a penalty for non-fulfilment, although certain people are obliged to carry out certain actions for other reasons as well, whether as a tradition or for social reasons.

Obligations vary from person to person: for example, a person holding a political office will generally have far more obligations than an average adult citizen, who themselves will have more obligations than a child. Obligations are generally granted in return for an increase in an individual's rights or power. For example, obligations for health and safety in a workplace from employer to employee maybe to ensure the fire exit is not blocked or ensure that the plugs are put in firmly.

The word "obligation" can also designate a written obligation, or such things as bank notes, coins, checks, bonds, stamps, or securities.

Philosophy of biology

The philosophy of biology is a subfield of philosophy of science, which deals with epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues in the biological and biomedical sciences. Although philosophers of science and philosophers generally have long been interested in biology (e.g., Aristotle, Descartes, and even Kant), philosophy of biology only emerged as an independent field of philosophy in the 1960s and 1970s. Philosophers of science then began paying increasing attention to biology, from the rise of Neodarwinism in the 1930s and 1940s to the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953 to more recent advances in genetic engineering.

Other key ideas include the reduction of all life processes to biochemical reactions, and the incorporation of psychology into a broader neuroscience.


Pyrrhonism was a school of skepticism founded by Pyrrho in the fourth century BC. It is best known through the surviving works of Sextus Empiricus, writing in the late second century or early third century AD.

Quality of life

Quality of life (QOL) is an overarching term for the quality of the various domains in life. It is a standard level that consists of the expectations of an individual or society for a good life. These expectations are guided by the values, goals and socio-cultural context in which an individual lives. It is a subjective, multidimensional concept that defines a standard level for emotional, physical, material and social well-being such as freedom from pain, freedom from worry and freedom from sickness. It serves as a reference against which an individual or society can measure the different domains of one’s own life. The extent to which one's own life coincides with this desired standard level, put differently, the degree to which these domains give satisfaction and as such contribute to one's subjective well-being, is called life satisfaction.


Human self-reflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence.

The earliest historical records demonstrate the great interest which humanity has had in itself. “Know thyself" was inscribed on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi over 3,000 years ago.

Human self-reflection is related to the philosophy of consciousness, the topic of awareness, consciousness in general and the philosophy of mind.


Selfishness is being concerned excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one's own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others.Selfishness is the opposite of altruism or selflessness; and has also been contrasted (as by C. S. Lewis) with self-centeredness.


Sentientism is an ethical philosophy that grants degrees of moral consideration to all sentient beings. Sentientism extends humanism by showing compassion for non-human animals as well as potential artificial and alien intelligences. In common with humanism, sentientism rejects supernatural beliefs in favour of critical, evidence-based thinking. Sentientism proposes that sentience, primarily the ability to experience suffering or flourishing, should determine whether we grant moral consideration to an entity. Non-sentient entities do not warrant direct moral consideration because they cannot experience the implications of our decisions.

Sentientist thinking has a long history, from Jeremy Bentham's An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation through to contemporary philosophers such as Richard D. Ryder and Peter Singer.

Sentientism differs from speciesism in that it uses degrees of sentience, rather than species boundaries, to grant degrees of moral consideration.

Sentientism differs from painism in that it acknowledges the full range of experience, not just that of pain, in warranting moral consideration.

Sentientism agrees with animalism that humans are animals so both warrant moral consideration. However, sentientism argues that non-animal sentient beings, such as potential artificial or alien intelligences, would also warrant moral consideration.

The Secret (book)

The Secret is a best-selling 2006 self-help book by Rhonda Byrne, based on the earlier film of the same name. It is based on the belief of the law of attraction, which claims that thoughts can change a person's life directly. The book has sold 30 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 50 languages.

Critics have claimed that books such as this promote political complacency and a failure to engage with reality, and that "it isn’t new, and it isn’t a secret". Scientific claims made in the book have been rejected by a range of critics, pointing out that the book has no scientific foundation.

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