Educational PhilosophyIntroduction to Education

Areas in Philosophy

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems such as those concerned with knowledge, values, reason and mind. Literally the word philosophy means the love of wisdom and so it is the in-depth scientific study of facts of the universe and it has three basic areas such as:

  • Epistemology
  • Ontology
  • Axiology


In philosophy, epistemology refers to the study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge. The field is sometimes referred to as the theory of knowledge. It concerns with every scientific discipline that contributes to the collective efforts of human beings. Epistemological theories seek to discover the nature, origins and limits of human knowledge. It is safe to say that every philosopher since the beginning of civilization has been concerned to some degree with epistemology. Philosophy is by definition the love of wisdom or the search for true knowledge. With careful scrutiny, philosophers attempt to differentiate truth from belief and appearances. Epistemology aims to provide a foundation for what we consider to be true knowledge.

Many of the most important philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, maintained that knowledge is possible. Their epistemology rested on the ability to clearly differentiate between appearance and reality. For Plato, this epistemology was famously illustrated through his theory of forms. Aristotle’s epistemology asserted that true knowledge could be attained through the examination of cause and effect, combined with the application of reason and logic.

Epistemology is important because it is fundamental to how we think. Without some means of understanding how we acquire knowledge, how we rely upon our senses, and how we develop concepts in our minds, we have no coherent path for our thinking. A sound epistemology is necessary for the existence of sound thinking and reasoning — this is why so much philosophical literature can involve seemingly arcane discussions about the nature of knowledge. Unfortunately, atheists who frequently debate questions that derive from differences in how people approach knowledge aren’t always familiar with this subject.

It is true that we know things. We know we are reading this. But what is the nature of what we know? Does it properly reflect reality (truth)? Is knowledge primarily gained through our sense experiences? Is knowledge primarily gained through reason? There is a priori knowledge, or knowledge that is automatically known apart from experience, and posteriori knowledge, or knowledge that is gained from experience.
Generally speaking, epistemology deals with the nature of knowledge and not the how-to of knowledge. It is also a speculative branch of philosophy and tries to answer such questions as: Is the world as people perceive it the basic reality, or do people perceive only appearances (or phenomena) that conceal basic reality? What are the boundaries between reason and knowledge, on the one hand, and what some thinkers call the illusions deriving from metaphysics? What is the basis for knowledge? Is it observation, experience, intuition, or inspiration? Or is there some other basis?

Knowledge may be regarded as having two parts. There is, first of all, what one sees, hears, touches, tastes, and smells. Next there is the way these perceptions are organized by the mind to form ideas or concepts. The problem of epistemology is based on how philosophers have understood the relationship of the mind to the rest of reality.


In philosophy, ontology, the most fundamental branch of metaphysics, is the study of the nature of being or existence as well as the basic categories thereof. A being is anything that can be said to ‘be’ in various senses of the word ‘be’. The verb to be has many different meanings and can therefore be rather ambiguous. Because “to be” has so many different meanings, there are, accordingly, many different ways of being.

Different societies, for example, perceive reality is quite different ways as do the individuals who constitute those societies, in medieval society, for example, it was accepted as real that the earth was flat but today we would regard that as nonsense. Similarly, one society may regard the use of chemical fertilizers as essential, while to another the reality consists of waste products of animals.

Thus what is real to the society is very important when constructing a curriculum that will perpetuate the sense of reality. Indeed, it may well be that some curriculum developers see their role as re-creating reality in society be using the school curriculum as a vehicle for change.

It is originally a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and the organization of reality. It tries to answer questions like “what is existence”, “what properties can explain the existence” etc. Aristotle defined ontology as the science of being as such. Unlike the special sciences, each of which investigates a class of beings and their determinations, ontology regards “all the species qua being and the attributes that belong to it qua being”. In this sense the philosophical ontology tries to answer the question “what is the being?” or, in a meaningful reformulation what are the features common to all beings?

Ontology as a discipline is a method or activity of enquiry into philosophical problems about the concept or facts of existence. Ontology as a domain is the outcome or subject matter of ontology as a discipline. Applied scientific ontology construed as an existence domain can be further subdivided as the theoretical commitment to a preferred choice of existent entities, or to the real existent entities themselves, including the actual world considered as a whole, also known as the extant domain. Ontology as a theoretical domain is thus a description or inventory of the things that are supposed to exist according to a particular theory, which might but need not be true. Ontology as the extant domain, in contrast, is the actual world of all real existent entities, whatever these turn out to be, identified by a true complete applied ontological theory.

In short, it is the area of philosophy which deals with the nature of reality. It asks questions what is real. What exists and what is the nature of human being and especially the word ‘ontology’ is used to refer to philosophical investigation of existence, or being. Such investigation may be directed towards the concept of being, asking what ‘being’ means, or what it is for something to exist; it may also (or instead) be concerned with the question ‘what exists?’, or ‘what general sorts of things are there?


It is the aspect of the knowledge that is concerned with the nature of values. Axiological questions are the fundamental aspect of our life in that the resulting decision has a profound effect on our behavior. Question as what is good? What is desirable to human beings are both fundamental to our existence and constantly present in our daily lives. Thus axiological considerations are important in one’s development of a curriculum for future generations.

Experts contend that axiological questions are usually divided into two main categories: ethics and aesthetics.

Ethics is the branch of philosophy concerned with human behavior, morality, and responsibilities of people to each other and to society. Because ethics plays such a large part in the way people live, it has always been a subject of great interest. Some thinkers have asserted that there are definite, knowable standards for human behavior. Others deny this and say that decisions should be based mostly on the situation in which one finds oneself. They are relativists–they say ethical decisions are related to specific circumstances.

This branch of philosophy is very close to religion. A large part of the Bible, for instance, is made up of wisdom literature, which is chiefly practical philosophy with a religious foundation. On the basis of ethics, Aristotle developed his ‘Politics’. He moved from explaining how individuals could have a good life to how a good society should be built.

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty, the arts, and taste (or appreciation). The term is derived from the Greek word meaning “sense perception.” The basic question for aesthetics is: How do humans judge what is beautiful? Is it a reasoned assessment, or is it merely an emotional preference?

Furthermore, do aesthetic judgments have any relationship to moral or scientific judgments? In conclusion then, aesthetics seeks to lay foundations for criticism in the arts, or it tries to show that such foundations are impossible.

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