which means to love and “sophia” which means wisdom. There are three fundamental
questions in the field of philosophy which are referred to as the Existential Concerns.
“What can I know?”, “What ought I to do?”, “What is the meaning of life and my place in
the universe?” These complex questions are discussed in the basic areas of philosophy.
Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. The major question in this area is, what
is truth? There are various theories about the correct answer. One explanation is the
Correspondence Theory of Truth. This theorem puts forth the idea that the only real truth
has tangible evidence to back it up. For example, a witness to a crime. That person was
the only one, other then the direct people involved who know what happened. However,
religion and science are two forms that go against this theorem. Another theory is nothing
is truth. This consists of the idea that we cannot know anything with certainty. The
followers of this theorem are usually classified as being “skeptical”. Another explanation
for truth is considered Sense Perception. Sense Perception is subjective and relative,
therefore it is not a tangible form of knowledge. There is still one more form of
determining the truth, mathematics or Intellectual Knowledge. For example, if I were to
ask you to add two and three, the only true answer you could give me would be five. The
is not a subjective or relative example. Many people consider math to be a universal truth.
There are various questions associated with the area of ethics. Each of them deal
with morals. Morals are defined as the right conduct or duties of a man. The first
question is, are there any universal moral values? Moral relativists will either deny or be in
favor of the existent of universal values. One instance where I can explain this idea, is
with the Nuremberg trials of 1946. Post World War II, several top officials of the Nazi
regiment were put on trial for the “crimes they committed against humanities”. However,
they didn’t plead guilty. Their defense was that they were simply following orders and the
laws presented by the state. Do you believe that is a suitable reason for their actions? If
so, you believe that universal moral values do not exist. That each country and/or group
of people have separate rights and wrongs associated with their culture. On the other
hand if you feel that the Axis Powers were correct in putting these officers on trial, then
you believe that there are basic moral values, that should be obeyed. The term for this is
Equal Dignity. Therefore you believe in a Universal Justice also known as Cicero Natural
The second question that is discussed, when speaking of ethics, is “What principles
should guide my actions or choices?” In other words, what do I base my decisions on?
Most people judge their behavior by what is good, fair or just. Others by what will bring
them pleasure. These people believe in hedonism. There are individuals that determine
their actions by fear, self-preservation or instinct. Furthermore another question is, what
makes a society a just one? There are two sides to this question. A major issue concerned
with this argument is the imprisonment of convicted criminals. On one hand, some people
believe in retributive justice. They understand that one should repay their debt to society,
if necessary. They believe in rehabilitation. On the other hand, those who believe in
distributive justice are under the concept, that equal wealth is the answer to making a
society just. These people believe that everyone should be treated the same.
Finally, the last question dealing with ethics is, what is the relationship between
laws and morality? Laws are the rules established by an authority. Many people think that
laws should be written with the pure intent of creating and therefore, keeping a society in
order. Others feel that laws should be written with moral rights in mind. For instance the
topic of abortion. Although the law was passed that it is legal for a woman to get an
abortion, many believe the law in morally wrong. These people believe that, a child is a
life from conception and should have the right to live. Whether they are correct or not, is
the law a moral one? Then, the question should be asked who decides what is moral and
Metaphysics is the third area of philosophy. It is the study of “the way the world
really is”. Once again there are questions about this topic. An important question is, what
is the ultimate nature of reality? The first answer is that nature is purely physical or
material. Therefore everything is simply made of matter and nothing more. An example
of this, is the brain, simply a part of our body. There is no soul present. Another answer
is that nature is spiritual, being non-material. It means that we will experience reality is
completely spiritual terms, with our soul, an example is the mind. The mind is an
intellectual faculty that is in charge of our understanding, memories and opinions.
Dualism is the combination of both materialism and spiritualism. It suggests nature is
made up of physical and spiritual elements. Accordingly, it also suggests that the brain
and mind act as a team. Another question concerned with metaphysics is, does the
universe have rational or moral order? Or is it simply absurd? If our universe was absurd,
then there would be no goals to set, no purpose in your life. Basically, if it was true our
existence would just be a bad joke.
God is also a topic up for discussion when related to metaphysics. The question
arises of whether or not God created the world. Many cultures have a vast number of
answers to this question, most deal with religion. The Roman Catholic and Jewish
religions+ believe a single male God created the world in seven days. Ancient Greeks and
Romans believed that several female goddesses and male gods created the universe. With
this question, the meaning of life is also pondered. Cosmology is the study of the
universe. Various philosophers contemplate the ultimate nature of reality and the origins
of the universe.
The three fundamental questions in the field of philosophy, will never be answered
fully. If they were, the world would be neglected of great thinkers, philosophers, such as
Plato, Socrates and Amaxander.