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(from Gk. philein, “to love,” and sophia, “wisdom”). Search for wisdom, and the resulting body of knowledge of gen. principles explaining facts and existences, elements, powers or causes, and laws.

Philos. may be regarded as the science of the principles and methods that underlie all knowledge and existence. It tries to think methodically and clearly about notions that occur in thinking but are not solved by special sciences. It tries to present a harmonious and comprehensive world view.

Main divisions of philos.: 1. epistemology*; 2. metaphysics, dealing with principles at the basis of all phenomena; 3. natural philos., dealing with the origin and nature of the world; 4. psychology*; 5. ligic; 6. ethics*; 7. aesthetics.*

The term “philos.” has been used in a popular way for private wisdom or consolation. Philos. and religion have in common a concern with the nature of God and His relation to the world. Philos. of hist. tries to find meaning in the course of hist. Exponents of a philos. of hist. include Augustine* of Hippo, W. C. L. Dilthey,* J. G. Fichte,* G. W. F. Hegel,* J. G. v. Herder,* I. Kant,* G. E. Lessing,* Origen,* F. W. J. v. Schelling,* Tertullian,* G. B. Vico.* Philosophy* of religion tries to investigate religions generally and impartially.

Philos. may be divided into formal philos. (science of knowledge) and material philos., which tries to grasp the truth and essence of the universe. In this division, formal philos. includes logic (which deals with the science of the intellect or mind) and metaphysics (which deals with reason and the domain of ideas); material (or real) philos. tries to understand and explain the universe: nature, spirit, God. As regards the last 3: The philos. of nature deals with matter and energy as expressed in the organism; the philos. of spirit treats of the individual spirit in the science of psychol., organized community life in pol. science, and of beauty in its various forms in the science of art; the philos. of God takes up the idea and reality of religion in the philos. of religion, morality in the science of ethics, and the development and progress or retrogression of humanity in the philos. of hist.

We are here concerned mainly with philos. as it appears in the philos. of religion, in ethics, and in the philos. of hist. We want to know how near the intellect and reason of man has come to understand God and things divine and explain the relation bet. God and the universe.

The human mind can arrive at some knowledge of God (Ro 1:18–25). Philosophers even before Christ drew a picture of a Supreme Being, one in essence, Father of all, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal, holy, just, wise, truthful.

If the science of philos., esp. philos. of religion, had continued along lines of the last remnant of the natural knowledge of God (Ro 1–2), there would have been no need of debates bet. Paul and philosophers (Acts 17:18–34) or of such warnings as in Cl 2:8.

Pre-Christian Gk. philosophers performed a propaedeutic service to Christianity. They sought the I permanent element (Anaxagaras,* Anaximander,* Anaximenes* of Miletus, Democritus,* Thales*), the Being (Parmenides,* Xenophanes*), the law of change (Heraclitus*), the mathematics of the universe (Pythagoras; see Pythagoreanism) unsuccessfully. Sophists made man the measure of all things, gave language precision, and introd. skepticism.* Socrates* and Plato* introd. inductive reasoning and gen. definitions, developed the doctrines of ideas and recollections (which played a promin ent part in later struggles bet. realism* and nominalism*), and turned philos. into a study of ethics. After Aristotle* the followers of Pyrrho revived skepticism.* In a period of corruption the Epicureanism* and Stoicism* made happiness the goal.

Philo* Judaeus influenced Jewish philos.

The apostolic ch. opposed philosophy. Ro 12:2 was followed literally. The wisdom of this world was largely ignored. Christians considered themselves strangers and pilgrims who had no continuing city here (Heb 11:13; 13:14). For E speculation in the early ch. see, e.g., Gnosticism.

Change began with est. of catechetical schools (see Schools, Early Christian). Neoplatonism* left a lasting mark on the ch.

A. M. T. S. Boethius* was the last true philos., except J. S. Erigena,* before nominalism and realism. The theol. of the ch. in the Middle Ages was governed by the philos. of Aristotle; scholasticism* dominated (see, e.g., Abelard, Peter; Albertus Magnus; Alexander of Hales; Anselm of Canterbury; Duns Scotus, John; Gilbert de la Porré; Peter the Lombard; Roscellinus; Thomas Aquinas). As a result, theol. degenerated and ch. life decayed.

M. Luther was influenced in his youth by nominalist philos. He thought highly of W. of Ockham* because he saw traces of the influence of the Gospel in him. But he repudiated medieval philos. in its rejection of free grace and spoke harshly of Aristotle. His position may be summarized: he “maintained an ambivalent attitude toward the place of philosophy in the Church.… In general he regarded philosophy as dangerous; and yet, when the occasion seemed to demand it, he was not at all averse to philosophical speculation.… Luther saw … that philosophy and theology differ as to method, content, purpose, and result … [and that] the work of the theologian … is to describe the workings of faith, and to do so in faith's own terms.… Nevertheless [Luther] was competent in the use of Aristotelian logic and … acknowledged it as valid” (J. Pelikan, From Luther to Kierkegaard, pp. 10, 12, 13).

Through P. Melanchthon* the influence of ancient philosophies came to bear on construction of Luth. thought. His description of faith in mental or intellectual terms has been called “the Melanchthonian blight” (R. R. Caemmerer, “The Melanchthonian Blight,” CTM, XVIII [1947], 321–338); its influence has not entirely disappeared.

On the influence of philos. in theol. in the 18th–20th cents. see, e.g.,Deism; Doctrine, Christian, History of, 5; Dogmatics; Existentialism; Fichte, Johann Gottlieb; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich; Kant, Immanuel; Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von; Objectivism; Rationalism; Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von; Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst; Semler, Johann Salomo; Wolff, Christian von.

All movements against the pure and complete doctrine of the Bible are efforts of philos. in decay to replace the revealed truth of the Word. Proper philos. serves theol.

T. Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, vol. 1 tr. L. Magnus, vols. 2–4 tr. G. G. Berry (New York, 1901–12); H. O. Taylor, The Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages, 3d ed. (New York, 1925); T. Whittaker, The Neo-Platonists, 2d ed. (New York, 1928); M. M. C. J. de Wulf, History of Mediaeval Philosophy, 2 vols. (New York, 1925–26); J. Pelikan, From Luther to Kierkegaard (St. Louis, 1950); D. D. Runes, The Dictionary of Philosophy (New York, [1942]); V. Ferm, An Encyclopedia of Religion (New York, 1945); The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed.-in-chief P. Edwards, 8 vols. (New York, 1967).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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