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filia [philia]

Greek term for friendship or amiability. In the philosophy of Empedocles, the constructive principle counter-acting the destructive influence of neikoV [neikos]. Aristotle regarded friendship as a crucial component of the good life.

Recommended Reading: Eros, Agape and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love, ed. by Alan Soble (Paragon, 1999) {at}.

Also see Brian Mooney and PP.

Philo Judaeus (Philo of Alexandria) (20 B.C.E.-50 C.E.)

Alexandrian Jewish philosopher who tried to synthesize Greek philosophy with Judaism by means of an allegorical interpretation of scripture. According to Philo, the personal deity of scripture is identical with Form of the Good in Plato, and the logos [logos] is its mediating creative force.

Recommended Reading: The Works of Philo, ed. by David M. Scholer and C. D. Yonge (Hendrickson, 1993) {at}; Kenneth S. Guthrie, Message of Philo Judaeus of Alexandria (Kessinger, 1997) {at}; and Robert M. Berchman, From Philo to Origen: Middle Platonism in Transition (Brown, 1985) {at}.

Also see IEP, The Ecole Initiative, ColE, BIO, and Francesca Calabi.

philosophy {Gk. filosofia [philosophia]}

Literally, love of wisdom. Hence, careful thought about the fundamental nature of the world, the grounds for human knowledge, and the evaluation of human conduct. As an academic discipline, philosophy's chief branches include logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, and the appropriate aims and methods of each are the concern of metaphilosophy.

Recommended Reading: Nigel Warburton, Philosophy: The Basics (Routledge, 1999) {at}; Thomas Nagel, What Does It All Mean: A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford, 1987) {at}; Simon Blackburn, Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford, 1999) {at}; The Great Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy, ed. by Bryan Magee (Oxford, 2000) {at}; Pablo A. Iannone, Dictionary of World Philosophy (Routledge, 2001) {at}; Martin Cohen, 101 Philosophy Problems (Routledge, 1999) {at}; and Antony Flew, Introduction to Western Philosophy: Ideas and Argument from Plato to Popper (Thames & Hudson, 1989) {at}.

Also see Richard Hooker, Encéphi, ColE, CE, and PP.

fronhsiV [phrónêsis]

Greek term for practical wisdom or prudence, the application of good judgment to human conduct, in contrast with the more theoretical inquiry leading to sofia [sophía], or wisdom generally.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967) {at}; Practical Rationality and Preference: Essays for David Gauthier, ed. by Christopher W. Morris and Arthur Ripstein (Cambridge, 2001) {at}; Joseph Dunne, Back to the Rough Ground: 'Phronesis' and 'Techne' in Modern Philosophy and in Aristotle (Notre Dame, 1993) {at}.

Also see Damian G. Konkoly, Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, and PP.


Belief that all mental properties, states, and events can be wholly explained in terms of physical properties, states, and events. Versions of this position—usually focussed on type rather than token identity—predominate in contemporary application of materialist principles to the philosophy of mind.

Recommended Reading: Jeffrey Poland, Physicalism: The Philosophical Foundation (Clarendon, 1994) {at}; Physicalism and Its Discontents, ed. by Carl Gillett and Barry Loewer (Cambridge, 2001) {at}; Emergence or Reduction?: Essays on the Prospects of Nonreductive Physicalism, ed. by Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr, and Jaegwon Kim (De Gruyter, 1992) {at}; and Joseph E. Corbi, Minds, Causes and Mechanisms: A Case Against Physicalism (Blackwell, 1999) {at}.

Also see SEP, DPM, ISM, and Jim Hopkins.

fusiV [physis]

Greek term for nature, as opposed to tecnh [technê], or art. Thus, for Aristotle, the governing principle of all movement among inanimate things.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967) {at}.

Also see PP.

Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni (1463-1494)
Pico della Mirandola

Italian thinker who studied in Florence with Marsillio Ficino. Pico's De hominis dignitate (Oration on the Dignity of Man) (1486) {at} is an excellent statement of the principles of Renaissance humanism. He supposed it possible for an individual human being, as a microcosm of nature, to reconcile all philosophical positions in a single grand system of thought.

Recommended Reading: Pico Della Mirandola, A Platonic Discourse on Love (Holmes, 1994) {at} and S. A. Farmer, Syncretism in the West: Pico's 900 Theses (Medieval & Renaissance, 1998) {at}.

Also see ColE, ELC, and BIO.

pistiV [pístis]

Most general Greek term for belief or faith as a subjective state. According to Plato, this occupies a higher part of the lower portion of the divided line.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967) {at}.

Also see PP.

pity, appeal to (argumentum ad misericordiam)

The informal fallacy that tries to elicit feelings of mercy from an audience.

Recommended Reading: Douglas N. Walton, Appeal to Pity: Argumentum Ad Misericordiam (SUNY, 1997) {at}.

Also see GLF.

Planck, Max Karl Ernst Ludwig (1858-1947)

German physicist whose discovery of the constant rate at which energy can be radiated contributed significantly to Einstein's formulation of a wave/particle theory of light and the development of quantum mechanics. Planck won the Nobel Prize in 1918.

Recommended Reading: Max Planck, Eight Lectures on Theoretical Physics, tr. by A. P. Wills (Dover, 1998) {at}; Max Planck, Treatise on Thermodynamics (Dover, 1990) {at}; and J. L. Heilbron, Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck and the Fortunes of German Science (Harvard, 2000) {at}.

Also see MMT, ColE, BIO, and WSB.

Plato (427-347 BCE)

Greek philosopher who drew a strict distinction between appearance and reality, developed the theory of forms as an account of immutable truth, and argued that only the wisest members of a society should be trusted to rule.

For a discussion of his life and works, see Plato. Also see PP.

plenitude, principle of

Belief that everything that can be, is. Leibniz clearly maintained that every genuine possibility must be actualized in the best of all possible worlds, and A. O. Lovejoy supposed adherence to this notion a significant source for the notion of the great chain of being envisioned by such philosophers as Plato, Plotinus, and the Neoplatonics.

Recommended Reading: Arthur Oncken Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard, 1970) {at}.

Plotinus (205-270)

Egyptian philosopher. In the Enneads {at} (which were collected and published by his pupil Porphyry) Plotinus extrapolated from the writings of Plato a comprehensive view of reality in which everything flows in a series of emanations from the central unity outwards into ever less significant things. On this view, the chain of being extends from nouV [nous] through yuch [psychê] to fusiV [physis]. Although human beings are typically caught up in the lowest element of nature, Plotinus supposed each to be a microcosm of the universe as a whole, capable of contemplative awareness of the divine unity.

Recommended Reading: Dominic J. O'Meara, Plotinus: An Introduction to the Enneads (Oxford, 1995) {at}; , ed. by Lloyd P. Gerson (Cambridge, 1996) {at}; John N. Deck, Nature, Contemplation, and the One: A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus (Larson, 1991) {at}; and Lloyd P. Gerson, Plotinus (Routledge, 1998) {at}.

Also see SEP, Paul Harrison, IEP, The Ecole Initiative, ColE, ELC, BIO, and Douglas Hadley.


Belief that reality ultimately includes many different kinds of things. Thus, in ethics, the supposition that there are many independent sources of value and, in political life, acceptance of a multiplicity of groups with competing interests. Epistemological pluralism is a common feature in postmodernist thought.

Recommended Reading: Andrew L. Blais, On the Plurality of Actual Worlds (Massachusetts, 1997) {at}; John Kekes, Pluralism in Philosophy: Changing the Subject (Cornell, 2000) {at}; Michael P. Lynch, Truth in Context: An Essay on Pluralism and Objectivity (MIT, 1998) {at}; Nicholas Rescher, Pluralism: Against the Demand for Consensus (Clarendon, 1995) {at}; Byeong-Uk Yi, Understanding the Many (Routledge, 2002) {at}; Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (Basic, 1984) {at}; and Philosophy and Pluralism, ed. by David Archard (Cambridge, 1996) {at}.

Also see IEP, P. J. McGrath, ColE, Charles Ess, and ISM.

pneuma [pneuma]

Greek term for wind, breath, or spirit. Aristotle relied on the literal senses of the term, but the Stoics gave it a quasi-divine cosmological significance. Hence, pneumatology is the study of spiritual beings, the branch of Christian theology concerned with third person of the trinity.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967) {at} and Language and Thought in Early Greek Philosophy, ed. by Kevin Robb (Open Court, 1990) {at}.

Also see PP.

poihsiV [poiêsis]

Greek term for creation or production that is aimed at some end (teloV [télos]), unlike mere action (praxiV [praxis]) or doing. Excellence in poihsiV is achieved by skill tecnh [technê].

Also see PP.

Poincaré, Jules Henri (1854-1912)

French mathematician and philosopher of science. Although he granted the necessity of testing scientific propositions against observed facts about the natural world in La Science et l'hypothèse (Science and Hypothesis) (1902) {at}, Poincaré emphasized that scientific theories are conventional claims best supported by appeal to their simplicity and utility rather than to their truth. This philosophy of science provided a significant impetus for logical positivism, but Poincaré himself criticized the logicization of arithmetic in Dernières Pensées (Mathematics and Science: Last Essays) (1912).

Recommended Reading: The Value of Science: Essential Writings of Henri Poincare (Modern Library, 2001) {at}; Elie Zahar, Poincare's Philosophy: From Conventionalism to Phenomenology (Open Court, 2001) {at}; and Mathematical Heritage of Henri Poincare, ed. by Felix E. Browder (Am. Math. Soc., 1983) {at}.

Also see IEP, Dan Bucsescu, Andy Blunden, MMT, ColE, ELC, BIO, and WSB.


©1997-2006 Garth Kemerling.
Last modified 7 August 2002.
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