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For the numerous German philosophers who derive their inspiration from his criticism -- Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, Schleiermacher, Schopenhauer, and the rest -- it is the general teaching of science (Wissenschaftslehre). All of them affirm the eminently synthetic character of philosophy.
Many contemporary authors regard it as the synthetic theory of the particular sciences : "Philosophy", says Herbert Spencer, "is completely unified knowledge " ( First Principles , #37). For Wundt, the object of philosophy is "the acquisition of such a general conception of the world and of life as will satisfy the exigencies of the reason and the needs of the heart" -- "Gewinnung einer allgemeinen Welt -- und Lebensanschauung, welche die Forderungen unserer Vernunft und die Bedurfnisse unseres Gemüths befriedigen soll" ( Einleit. In the opinion of the present writer, the most exact and comprehensive definition is that of Aristotle.
Thus philosophical knowledge leads to philosophical acquaintance with morality and logic.
And hence we have this more comprehensive definition of philosophy: "The profound knowledge of the universal order, of the duties which that order imposes upon man, and of the knowledge which man acquires from reality" -- "La connaissance approfondie de l'ordre universel, des devoirs qui en résultent pour l'homme et de la science que l'homme acquiert de la rémite" (Mercier, "Logique", 1904, p. -- The development of these same ideas under another aspect will be found in section VIII of this article.
Aristotle, mightier than his master at compressing ideas, writes: tên onomazomenên sophian peri ta procirc;ta aitia kai tas archas hupolambanousi pantes -- "All men consider philosophy as concerned with first causes and principles" ( Metaph. These notions were perpetuated in the post-Aristotelean schools (Stoicism, Epicureanism, neo-Platonism ), with this difference, that the Stoics and Epicureans accentuated the moral bearing of philosophy ("Philosophia studium summae virtutis", says Seneca in "Epist.", lxxxix, 7), and the neo-Platonists its mystical bearing (see section V below).
The Fathers of the Church and the first philosophers of the Middle Ages seem not to have had a very clear idea of philosophy for reasons which we will develop later on ( section IX ), but its conception emerges once more in all its purity among the Arabic philosophers at the end of the twelfth century and the masters of Scholasticism in the thirteenth. Thomas, adopting the Aristotelean idea, writes: "Sapientia est scientia quae considerat causas primas et universales causas; sapientia causas primas omnium causarum considerat" -- Wisdom [i.e. In general, modern philosophers may be said to have adopted this way of looking at it.
This sense appears again in sapientia , the word used in the Middle Ages to designate philosophy.
In the ninth century of our era, Alcuin, employing it in the same sense, says that philosophy is "naturarum inquisitio, rerum humanarum divinarumque cognitio quantum homini possibile est aestimare" -- investigation of nature, and such knowledge of things human and Divine as is possible for man ( P. Without here enumerating all the historic definitions of philosophy, some of the most significant may be given.
Plato calls it "the acquisition of knowledge ", ktêsis epistêmês (Euthydemus, 288 d).
Now man, on the one hand, is the responsible author of these relations, because he is free, but he is obliged by nature itself to reach an aim, which is his moral end.
On the other hand, he has the power of reflecting upon the knowledge which he acquires of all things, and this leads him to study the logical structure of science.
the study of being in its unchangeable and (whether naturally or by abstraction ) incorporeal determinations ( chôrista kau akinêt ).