The true meaning of philosophy

Philosophy is the combination of two greek words , philos, meaning love, and sophia, meaning wisdom. So philosophy is , or should be, the love of wisdom.

Therefore someone who is a philosopher is , by the nature of the name , one who loves wisdom.

philosophy is a thing which should only be used to help us live a beautiful and poetic life. Because this is wise!

If we are not harmonious & poetic, but jumbled , and disorganized, rude and impatient, we are not philosophers. We do not love wisdom.

If you do not eat well, and look after your body, or if you smoke too much, drink too much , take copious amounts of drugs, or have any other attachment or addiction to anything, you are not wise. And you do not love wisdom.

Neither do you love wisdom If you quarrel with a bad temper for no good reason, allow yourself to be taken by impulses, take advantage of people in business or sexually, behave dishonestly or anything else like it.

To get along, we people must know diplomacy, patience, honor, tenacity , rectitude, nobility, magnanamity, reserve, self control.

All of the qualities that make us great.

This is the real meaning of being a philosopher. One who has imbued his spirit, by the power of his hopes and ambitions , with virues. Not vices.

If you want to know , does someone truly love wisdom, is he or she a real philosopher, first of all find out how they live their lives. It is the only real way to know a true philosopher.

Therefore it is compulsary that a philosopher knows how to tame the wild instincts and passions he has in him. The very impulses that lead to so much devastation and uproar in the life.

But we need to know how to do this. And for that we need special knowledge. Knowledge of the self, mans true self.

Not the type of knowledge that is passed off as revolutionary , when in fact it has not really covered much ground in terms of making the world a better place. In terms of helping humanity understand themselves better.

Evolutionary psychology is interesting, Darwinist ideas are interesting, as is functionalism, as is much of the information modern psychologists and those others who study the mind are putting about.

But if these things did answer the questions that really mattered then things would be better than they are.

We must all re learn the old ways in order to find a real universal solution. We need something new.

If you read though the forum then you might find this interesting: … p?t=145026

Compare: The term “lunatic” derives from the belief that people who were crazy were influenced by the phases of the moon. Therefore, lunatic asylums are filled with people whe act that way because they are under the influence of the moon.

I beleive you have just commited the genetic fallacy, friend.

I just love absolutes!

Wise is nothing but to obtain as much pleasure in life as possible. Thats all thats wise! Dont take this as an absolute statement. I just think its true.

You know what this reminds me of? No offense guy, but it really did…

I drove by a guy on the street the other day holding a sign: “Jesus or Hell”

It made me laugh… I do love those absolutes!

I don’t think so. I was only pointing out that the meanings of words change over time, so that the etymology of a term need not be the standard for what the term now means. “Lunatic” used to mean, “influenced by the moon.” it no longer does. “Philosophy” was derived from “philo” and “sophia”, but it does not follow that it means love of wisdom now. (Anyway, “sophia” is not very well translated by “wisdom” The better translation is “understanding.” There are interesting reasons why “sophia” has been translated by “wisdom” which have to do with 19th century Victorian England, and, in particular, with the Master of Balliol College in Oxford, Jowett. But that is a different story.)


Anyway, “sophia” is not very well translated by “wisdom” The better translation is “understanding.”

As usual, you are poorly educated on an issue. Sophos means many things, but certainly “wisdom” is among them, as is “cleverness”. Understanding is usually denoted by other words:


A. skilled in any handicraft or art, clever; of a sculptor; even of hedgers and ditchers; but in this sense mostly of poets and musicians

  1. clever in practical matters, wise, prudent; esp. statesmanlike, in which sense the seven Sages; hence, shrewd, worldly-wise: even of animals, my little trick; your clever notion, my tears, all the resources that I have, better than all craft

b. more generally, learned, wise; universally and ideally wise: later as a title, esp. of lawyers or professors

  1. subtle, ingenious

II. of things, cleverly devised, wise, all wise sayings

III. Adv. cleverly, wisely[/i]

Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon


(Sigh!) I just fascinate you! I am flattered in a gooney sort of way. Do you like girls too?
By the way, I did not say that one use of “Sophos” was not “wisdom”. I said that “Sophos” is poorly translated as “wisdom” in the context. Understand the difference?
In any case, my main argument was that even if that were a good translation, which it is not, then even if the etymology (that means “word origin”) of “philosophy” were “love of wisdom” it would not follow that “philosophy” means “love of wisdom” now. (By the way, that’s an argument. You’ve heard of those, haven’t you?)

“By the way, I did not say that one use of “Sophos” was not “wisdom”. I said that “Sophos” is poorly translated as “wisdom” in the context. Understand the difference?”

What context? The only context I see is: “Sophia means wisdom.” A very informative context I must say!

You all seem to quarrel over the irrelevant details. But dont you agree with what I say?

not you kenny, him.

And Iron Dog, I think a true understanding of Philosophy starts with the realization that the detials are never irellivent.

Every other disipline from art to science to history and back agian have some margin of error that’s allowed. Philosophy, to me, means having methods of the strictest kind for stuff that other people are very loosey goosey about.

You seem to be more describing the virtrous person- which is a related but not synonomous concept in my view.

The context is the practice of philosophy, and whether what philosophers do can easily or simply described as the “love of wisdom”. Or whether “love of wisdom” is at all an appropriate description. Is it really that which tells us what is common to what Socrates, and Descartes, and Kant, and Leibniz, and Quine, and Davidson, and Wittgenstein, and G.E. Moore, do?

It is perhaps in that light that we ought to rethink the slap-dash translation of “sophos” as what it is that philosophers are supposed to love. After all, it is you (and your colleagues) who are always admonishing others to look beyond the obvious.

The trouble is that wisdom itself, is something we associate with sayings like, “A penny saved is a penny earned”. So that we might infer that Benjamin Franklin was the truest of philosopher.


It is perhaps in that light that we ought to rethink the slap-dash translation of “sophos” as what it is that philosophers are supposed to love.

Slap-dash? I too am confused which “context” you mean when you insist that love of “wisdom” is an incorrect translation of the word philosophia. Notice we are speaking of a translation, not the use of a contemporary term, which you may argue has deviated from its original meaning, if you wish. Here are three different and specific texts in which it seems rather that love of “wisdom” is better a translation than “understanding”:

The same dream came to me often in my past life, sometimes in one form and sometimes in another, but always saying the same thing: ‘Socrates,’ it said, ‘make music and work at it.’ And I formerly thought it was urging and encouraging me [61a] to do what I was doing already and that just as people encourage runners by cheering, so the dream was encouraging me to do what I was doing, that is, to make music, because philosophy was the greatest kind of music and I was working at that. Plato, Phaedo, 61a

Here Socrates specifically equates ‘philosophy’ with music making in the context of a telling dream. Wisdom more closely aligns itself with the arts and beauty.

[485d] But when I see an elderly man still going on with philosophy and not getting rid of it, that is the gentleman, Socrates, whom I think in need of a whipping. For as I said just now, this person, however well endowed he may be, is bound to become unmanly through shunning the centers and marts of the city, in which, as the poet said, “men get them note and glory”; he must cower down and spend the rest of his days whispering in a corner with three or four lads, and never utter anything free or high or spirited. Plato, Gorgias 485d

Here Callicles is ridiculing ‘philosophy’ for its detachment from the world, its impractical nature, something much more closely suggestive of wisdom in the negative sense, rather than understanding.

And the priests, because they enjoyed such conditions of life, discovered for the body the aid which the medical art affords, not that which uses dangerous drugs, but drugs of such a nature that they are as harmless as daily food, yet in their effects are so beneficial that all men agree the Egyptians are the healthiest and most long of life among men; and then for the soul they introduced philosophy’s training, a pursuit which has the power, not only to establish laws, but also to investigate the nature of the universe. Isocrates, Speeches and Letters 11.20

Here Isocrates speaks of the ‘philosophy’ of the Egyptians, and places it in the context of the knowledge of the priests and their use of drugs (really pharmakon which is ‘potion’, with connotations of magic). Wisdom more accurately translates the ‘sophos’ of the Egyptians.

The trouble is that wisdom itself, is something we associate with sayings like, “A penny saved is a penny earned”.

Perhaps the trouble is that you associate wisdom with these kinds of sayings, that you do not understand what wisdom means.


The fact remains that however you stretch the meaning of “wisdom” most of the philosophy that has been written by philosophers Leibniz, or Descartes, let alone J.L. Austin, or W.V. Quine or Saul Kripke, can be called “wisdom”. So, are they philosophers?


“So, are they philosophers?”

I suppose this means you have given up the slap-dash opinion that the love of wisdom is an improper translation of the Greek word philosophia. Beyond that though, it is a very good question, and certainly up for debate. Has a fundamental shift occurred that has turned philosophia into philosophy, and if so, has philosophy suffered or gained by it? I honestly don’t know the definitive answer to that question. It is a profound one. (My personal suspicion is that they are, we all are philosophers to the degree that we question our antecedents, our inherited beliefs, the world-we-are-thrown-into, and fashion through our contemplation an understanding, that in some way reveals the world anew and more powerfully conceived.)

But it would be a mistake I think to reduce the efforts of early philosophy to the love of simple “understanding”, as we would mean the term.


By no means have I gone back on my skepticism that is the right translation. Indeed, what I am asking is how anyone can hold that philosophy is “love of wisdom” and in any recognizable sense of wisdom, maintain that Quine’s discussion of the indeterminacy of meaning, or that Austin’s essay, “Ifs and Cans” fits into that definition. As a consequence you are faced with deciding whether the view that philosophy is the love of wisdom is correct, or whether J. L. Austin and Quine are philosophers.


“By no means have I gone back on my skepticism that is the right translation.”

Do you read Greek? Should we treat the expertise with which you hold matters of translation, the same as we treat your expertise with which you hold matters of philosophical theory?