noun, plural phi·los·o·phies.

the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.
any of the three branches, namely natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy, that are accepted as composing this study.
a particular system of thought based on such study or investigation: the philosophy of Spinoza.
the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a particular branch of knowledge, especially with a view to improving or reconstituting them: the philosophy of science.
a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs.
an attitude of rationality, patience, composure, and calm in the presence of troubles or annoyances.

Origin of philosophy

1250–1300; Middle English philosophie < Latin philosophia < Greek philosophía. See philo-, -sophy
Related formsan·ti·phi·los·o·phy, adjective, noun, plural an·ti·phi·los·o·phies.non·phi·los·o·phy, noun, plural non·phi·los·o·phies. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for philosophies

Contemporary Examples of philosophies

Historical Examples of philosophies

  • The philosophies of Epicurus or Hume give no adequate or dignified conception of the mind.

  • The latest phases of all philosophies were fathered upon the founder of the school.

  • Another of Mr. Caryll's philosophies was that, when all is said, man is little of a free agent.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • But your theologies have been almost as false as the philosophies.

  • From Germany have come the arts, the sciences, the philosophies of the world, and not from there.


    E. F. Benson

British Dictionary definitions for philosophies


noun plural -phies

the academic discipline concerned with making explicit the nature and significance of ordinary and scientific beliefs and investigating the intelligibility of concepts by means of rational argument concerning their presuppositions, implications, and interrelationships; in particular, the rational investigation of the nature and structure of reality (metaphysics), the resources and limits of knowledge (epistemology), the principles and import of moral judgment (ethics), and the relationship between language and reality (semantics)
the particular doctrines relating to these issues of some specific individual or schoolthe philosophy of Descartes
the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a disciplinethe philosophy of law
archaic, or literary the investigation of natural phenomena, esp alchemy, astrology, and astronomy
any system of belief, values, or tenets
a personal outlook or viewpoint
serenity of temper

Word Origin for philosophy

C13: from Old French filosofie, from Latin philosophia, from Greek, from philosophos lover of wisdom
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for philosophies



c.1300, "knowledge, body of knowledge," from Old French filosofie "philosophy, knowledge" (12c., Modern French philosophie) and directly from Latin philosophia and from Greek philosophia "love of knowledge, pursuit of wisdom; systematic investigation," from philo- "loving" (see philo-) + sophia "knowledge, wisdom," from sophis "wise, learned;" of unknown origin.

Nec quicquam aliud est philosophia, si interpretari velis, praeter studium sapientiae; sapientia autem est rerum divinarum et humanarum causarumque quibus eae res continentur scientia. [Cicero, "De Officiis"]

[Philosophical problems] are, of course, not empirical problems; but they are solved through an insight into the workings of our language, and that in such a way that these workings are recognized -- despite an urge to misunderstand them. The problems are solved, not through the contribution of new knowledge, rather through the arrangement of things long familiar. Philosophy is a struggle against the bewitchment (Verhexung) of our understanding by the resources of our language. [Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Philosophical Investigations," 1953]

Meaning "system a person forms for conduct of life" is attested from 1771.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

philosophies in Culture


A study that attempts to discover the fundamental principles of the sciences, the arts, and the world that the sciences and arts deal with; the word philosophy is from the Greek for “love of wisdom.” Philosophy has many branches that explore principles of specific areas, such as knowledge (epistemology), reasoning (logic), being in general (metaphysics), beauty (aesthetics), and human conduct (ethics).

Different approaches to philosophy are also called philosophies. (See also epicureanism, existentialism, idealism, materialism, nihilism, pragmatism, stoicism, and utilitarianism.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.