terms in western philosophy


proposition - a statement that affirms or denies something

predicate - that part of a proposition that is affirmed or denied about the subject

postulate - to assume or assert the truth, reality, or necessity of a claim, the basis of an argument

premise - a proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn

thesis - a proposition that is maintained by argument

axiom - a self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the basis for an argument, a postulate

supposition - assumption, a minor premise

conclusion - the proposition concluded from one or more premises; a deduction

distribution - the property of standing for every individual designated by a term, theory of reference, universal quantifier,

deduction - the process of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the stated premises

syllogism - reasoning deductively from the general to the specific

sorite - an argument consisting of categorical propositions that can be represented as a sequence of categorical syllogisms such that the conclusion of each syllogism except the last one is a premise of the next syllogism in the sequence

enthymeme - a deductive argument (especially a categorical syllogism) from whose ordinary-language expression one or more propositions have been omitted or left unstated

dialectic - a method of argument or exposition that systematically weighs contradictory facts or ideas with a view to the resolution of their real or apparent contradictions

scholastic - adhering rigidly to scholarly methods; pedantic

proof - the evidence or argument that compels the mind to accept an assertion as true

eristic - the art of logical disputation

induction - the process of deriving general principles from particular facts or instances

inference - the act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true

disjunction - a proposition that presents two or more alternative terms, with the assertion that only one (or at least one) is true

definition - a statement conveying fundamental character

justification - a concept of broad scope that has as special cases the concepts of apt belief and right action

cause - the producer of an effect, result, or consequence

explanation - a mutual clarification of misunderstandings; a reconciliation

analytic - following necessarily; tautologous

synthetic - a proposition that attributes to a subject a predicate not inherent in the subject and that does not result in a contradiction if negated

a priori - before experience, from reason,

a posteriori - known by experience

a fortiori - taken as proofed

contingent - true only under certain conditions; not necessarily or universally true

conception - the ability to form or understand mental concepts and abstractions

perception - recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli

emotion - the part of the consciousness that involves feeling; sensibility

passion - a powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger

reason - the capacity for logical, rational, and analytic thought; intelligence

understanding - comprehension

judgment - the formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation

enlightenment - movement of the 18th century that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions and that brought about many humanitarian reforms

idealism - the theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas

deism - belief in a God who created and is now absent, theological rationalism

theism - belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world

agnosticism - the view that absolute truth is unattainable, there can be neither a proof of God's existence or of God's nonexistence

homoousios - the creed that God the Son is one and the same being or substance as the Father

henotheism - the teaching that there are many gods but that only one of them must be honored and worshipped

fideism - the view that truth in religion is ultimately based on faith rather than on reasoning or evidence

hermetism - human salvation depends on revealed knowledge (gnosis) of God

jansenism - the Roman Catholic doctrine of Cornelis Jansen and his disciples; salvation is limited to those who are subject to supernatural determinism and the rest are assigned to perdition

monergism - the Christian teaching that God alone is the one who saves. It is opposed to synergism which teaches that God and man work together in salvation.

soteriology - the section of Christian theology dealing with the doctrine of salvation

theosophy - philosophical mysticism

tritheism - the heretical belief that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate gods

metempsychosis - the belief that after death the soul begins a new cycle of existence in another human body

alchemy - searches for the philosophers stone that when mixed with alcohol produces immortality

cabala - jewish mysticism

catechesis - oral religious instruction

theurgy - magic performed with the help of beneficent spirits

traducianism - the belief that the soul is inherited from the parents along with the body

rationalism - the doctrine that knowledge is acquired by reason without resort to experience

empiricism - the doctrine that knowledge derives from experience

humanism - a system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth

monism - reality is a unified whole and that all existing things can be ascribed to or described by a single concept or system

dualism - the view that the world consists of or is explicable as two fundamental entities, such as mind and matter, good and evil

solipsism - the theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified

consciousness - alertness to or concern for a particular issue or situation, special awareness, sensitivity

cognition - the mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, intuition knowledge and judgment

reality - the totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence, that which exists objectively and in fact

spirit - the vital principle or animating force within living beings, incorporeal consciousness

idea - something, such as a thought or conception, that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity

empathy - identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives

coherence - the quality or state of cohering, especially a logical, orderly, and aesthetically consistent relationship of parts

attribute - a quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something

substance - that which has mass and occupies space; matter

matter - that which is in itself undifferentiated and formless and which, as the subject of change and development, receives form and becomes substance

energy - ambitious drive, the capacity of a physical system to do work

category - modes of subjective understanding, such as singularity, universality, or particularity, that organize perceptions into knowledge, classification

mode - the particular appearance, form, or manner in which an underlying substance, or a permanent aspect or attribute of it, is manifested

nature - the material world and its phenomena

mind - the human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination

action - the causation of change by the exertion of power or a natural process

happiness - being especially well-adapted, felicitous, cheerful, content

thought - consideration, attention,

pleasure - amusement, diversion, or worldly enjoyment

essence - the intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something

existence - the fact or state of continued being, life

didactic - instruction

semantic - meaning in language

hermeneutics - the science of interpretation and explanation

heuristic - speculative formulation serving as a guide in the investigation or solution of a problem

imagination - the formation of a mental image of something that is neither perceived as real nor present to the senses

merit - demonstrated ability or achievement, credit

dichotomy - division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions

sufficiency - an adequate amount or quantity

condition - a proposition on which another proposition depends; the antecedent of a conditional proposition, prerequisite

notion - a mental image or representation; an idea or conception

significance - a meaning that is not expressly stated but can be inferred

righteousness - adhering to moral principles

compassion - deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it

wisdom - the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight

justice - conformity to moral rightness in action or attitude, truth, fact, or sound reason

relevance - pertinence to the matter at hand

pertinence - having logical precise relevance to the matter at hand

concept - a general idea derived or inferred from specific instances or occurrences

sagacity - the quality of being discerning, sound in judgment, and farsighted; wisdom

implication - a suggestion, an inference

entailment - to have, impose, or require as a necessary accompaniment or consequence

fact - knowledge or information based on real occurrences

schema - a diagrammatic representation; an outline or model

subsumption - incorporating something under a more general category, or rule

will - the mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action

ethics - the philosophical study of moral values and rules

casuistry - the case analysis approach to the interpretation of general moral rules, starting with a paradigm reasoning to less obvious cases

virtue - moral excellence and righteousness; goodness

chiliastic - pertaining to the doctrine that when men are perfected the Messiah will appear on the Earth to rule over a happy and glorious kingdom for 1,000 years

angelism - the human aspiration to an angelic status

axiology - value theory

modality - the classification of propositions on the basis of whether they assert or deny the possibility, impossibility, contingency, or necessity of their content

grace - seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion

independence - liberty, the condition of being free from restriction or control

function - assigned duty or activity, something closely related to another thing and dependent on it for its existence, value, or significance

tautology - an empty, circular or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false

beauty - the quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality

sublimity - characterized by nobility, majestic, of high spiritual, moral, or intellectual worth, not to be excelled, supreme, inspiring awe, impressive

universal - of, relating to, extending to, or affecting the entire world or all within the world

necessary - absolutely essential, indispensable, logically inevitable,

absolute - something regarded as the ultimate basis of all thought and being, complete, total,

apparent - readily understood, clear or obvious

logical - reasoning in a clear and consistent manner

natural - conforming to the usual or ordinary course of nature,

total - a whole quantity, an entirety

whole - containing all components, complete, in one unit, constituting the full amount, extent, or duration

ultimate - being last in a series, process, or progression, fundamental, elemental

entire - whole, complete, sole, exclusive

complete - having all necessary or normal parts, components, or steps, entire, concluded

general - concerned with, applicable to, or affecting the whole or every member of a class or category

certain - definite, dependable, inevitable

sustainable - capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment

immediate - instant, direct, near

effective - existing in fact, actual,

inevitable - predictable, impossible to avoid or prevent

sufficient - being as much as is needed

thorough - absolute, utter

simple - having or composed of only one thing, element, or part, being without additions or modifications, mere

most - being one of a large indefinite number; numerous

highest - being at or near the peak or culminating stage,

only - alone in kind or class, sole,

perspicuous - clearly expressed or presented; easy to understand

unconditional - without conditions or limitations, absolute

implicit - implied or understood though not directly expressed

categorical - being without exception or qualification; absolute

ambiguous - open to more than one interpretation, doubtful or uncertain

objection - a ground, reason, or cause for expressing opposition

putative - generally regarded as such, supposed

significance - a meaning that is expressed

criterion - a standard, rule, or test on which a judgment or decision can be based

verifiability - possibility of proving the correctness of a claim or thesis

correctness - free from error or fault, true or accurate, conforming to standards, proper

literal - being in accordance with, conforming to, or upholding the exact or primary meaning of a word or words

plausibile - seemingly or apparently valid, likely, or acceptable; credible

confute - to prove to be wrong or in error, refute decisively

conjunction - a compound proposition that has components joined by the word and or its symbol and is true only if both or all the components are true

substantiate - to support with proof or evidence; verify

realism - the modern philosophical doctrine, opposed to idealism, that physical objects exist independently of their being perceived

taxonomy - division into ordered groups or categories

antagonism - hostility that results in active resistance, opposition, or contentiousness

contention - an assertion put forward in argument

complacency - a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble, or controversy

testimony - an assertion offering firsthand authentication of a fact

qualia - as distinct from properties, the mode perceived, the redness of the tomato

verbatim - word for word

anthropomorphism - the tendency to ascribe human features or other human characteristics to God

anthroposophy - knowledge of the nature of man

apocatastasis - the doctrine which teaches that a time will come when all free creatures will share in the grace of salvation

axiomatization - the process of defining the basic axiomatic systems from which mathematical theories can be derived

bona fide - in good faith, without fraud

epiphenomenalism - the view that matter is primary and that the mind is a secondary phenomenon accompanying some bodily processes

diallelon - a circular definition

eschatological - pertaining to the end of the world, life after death

etiology - the philosophical study of causation

foundationalism - the view that knowledge and epistemic justification have a two tier structure: some instances of knowledge are non-inferential or foundational; and all other instances are inferential in that they derive form foundational knowledge

haecceity - this-ness, a scholastic term to express individuality or singleness

heuristics - strategies that people use to solve problems

holism - the idea that ``the whole is greater than the sum of the parts

hylomorphism - the doctrine that the natural material units of the world we live in are substances composed of substantial form and prime matter

hylozoism - the doctrine that matter possesses a species of life and sensation, or that matter and life are inseparable

hypostatization - regarding something abstract as a material thing

hypothetico deductive method - comparing the explanatory value of competing hypotheses by looking to see how well they are sustained by their predictions

iatromechanism - cartesian mechanicism, reduced the body to a simple machine and explained health and sickness in terms of particulate matter in motion

iconoclastic - an attack on established beliefs or institutions

iconography - the study of representative art in general

idea - whatever is immediately before the mind when one thinks

in nuce - in a nutshell

ipso facto - by the fact itself

isomorphism - a one-to-one correspondence between a perceived object and its internal representation

leisign - a sign with the nature of a general type

lemma - proposition

logicism - the philosophical theory that all of mathematics can be derived from formal logic

meliorism - the belief that the world can be made better by human effort

mereology - study of part-whole relationships

meritocracy - a society in which political power is proportionate to merit

neustics - indicates the mood of a sentence

noema - the intended object of awareness

noosphere - the sum total of all human knowledge and experience

nomological - lawlike generalization

nomothetic - relating to or involving the search for abstract universal principles

parsing - the analysis of the syntax of a sentence

phrastics - content of a sentence

postmodern - the late 20th-century tendency (in art, thought, and society) to distrust objectivity, authority, universality, and moral and ideological absolutes

praxiology - the science or study of behaviour

proprium - a nonessential peculiarity of a species

psychologism - the theory that psychological analysis may be used as a method of resolving philosophical problems

qualisign - a sign with the nature of an appearance

reification - to regard or treat an abstraction as if it had concrete or material existence

reism - also called concretism, the theory that the basic elements are concrete objects

retributivism - the theory that punishment is justified by the moral desert of the offender

rhemes - a sub-class of phemes

semiology - the science or art of signs

semiotics - refers to theories regarding symbolism and how people glean meaning from words, sounds, and picture

seraph - an angel of the first order; usually portrayed as the winged head of a child

sinsign - a sign as an individual object or event

syncreticism - relating to a historical tendency for a language to reduce its use of inflections

synechism - the general theory that the essential feature in philosophic speculation is continuity

telishment - non retributive punishment

trope - an abstract particular, an instance of a property occuring at a particular place and time

tychism - any theory which conceives chance as an objective reality; esp., a theory of evolution which considers that variation may be purely fortuitous

zetetic - the method used for finding the value of unknown quantities by direct search, in the solution of problems

behaviorism - the view that behaviour is fundamental in understanding mental phenomena

compatibilism - the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism, when we take free will to merely to be a hypothetical ability to have chosen differently if one had been differently psychologically disposed by some different beliefs or desires

determinism - every physical event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences

materialism - the only thing that exists is matter; if anything else, such as mental events, exists, then it is reducible to matter

functionalism - mental states can be accounted for without taking into account the underlying physical substrate (the neurons), instead attending to higher-level functions such as beliefs, desires, and emotions

instumentalism - the sanction of truth is its utility, or truth is genuine only in so far as it is a valuable instrument

cognitivism - the view that ethical sentences express propositions

naturalism - rejects the validity of explanations or theories making use of entities inaccessible to natural science

nominalism - there exist no universals outside of the mind

pluralism - a framework of interaction in which groups show sufficient respect and tolerance of each other, that they fruitfully coexist and interact without conflict or assimilation

realism - holds that universals really exist, independently and somehow prior to the world

reductionism - describes a number of related theories that hold that the nature of complex things can always be reduced to simpler things

accident - an occurence

assent - agreement with a statement or proposal to do something

canon - a body of rules established as valid and fundamental in a field or art or philosophy

salience - strikingness

dogma - a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof

enigma - something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained

involution - (in integral thought) is the process by which the Divine manifests the cosmos. Involution prepares the universe for the Big Bang; evolution continues from that point forward



greek terms


sumbebękos - accident, properties or characteristics predicated of substances

logos - account, formula

energeia - actuality

entelecheia - actualization

alloiôsis - alteration

kataphatikos - affirmative

apophansis - assertion, sentence with a truth value, declarative sentence

hupothesis - assumption

pathos - attribute

axioma - axiom

on, onta - being(s)

huparchein - belong

katęgoria - category

aition, aitia - cause, material cause, or the elements out of which an object is created, efficient cause, or the means by which it is created, formal cause, or the expression of what it is, final cause, or the end for which it is

kinęsis - change

metabolę - change

gignesthai - come to be

genesis - coming to be

antiphanai - contradict

antiphasis - contradiction

enantion - contrary

horos, horismos - definition

apodeixis - demonstration

apophasis - denial (of a proposition)

dialectic - dialektikę,

diaphora - differentia

eidopoios diaphora - specific difference

telos - end

to ti ęn einai, to ti esti - essence

en tôi ti esti - essential

einai - exist

aition, aitia - explanation

eidos - form

morphę - form

ergon - function

genos - genus

homônumon - homonymous

amesos - immediate

adunaton - impossible

kath' hauto - in respect of itself

individual - atomon, tode ti

induction - epagôgę

infinite - apeiron

kind - genos, eidos

knowledge - epistęmę

hulę - matter

kinęsis - movement

phusis - nature

apophasis - negation (of a term)

en merei, epi meros - particular

idios, idion - peculiar, distinctive

kath' hauto - per se

aisthęsis - perception

aporia - perplexity

dunaton - possible

endechomenon -

dunamei - potentially

dunamis - potentiality

katęgorein - to predicate

katęegoroumenon - "what is predicated"

katęgoria - predication, act or instance of predicating, type of predication

peripatetics - students of Aristotle

archę - principle, starting point of a demonstration

hęi - qua

poion - quality

poson - quantity

elenchein - refute

elenchos - refutation

chôriston - separate

epistęmę - science

psuchę - soul, the internal principle of unity of a thing

eidos - species

eidopoios - specific

hupokeimenon - subject

ousia - substance, the bearer of properties or characteristics

horos - term

katholou - universal

sophia - wisdom





eastern philosophy


chi - (chinese) ether, air, vital energy

kundalini - (sanskrit) inner path, passage for the life force

yoga - (sanskrit) a means of becoming (re)united with the supreme being, or with the universal soul

ashtanga yoga - (sanskrit) the eightfold path

yamas - (sanskrit) moral discipline

niyamas - (sanskirt) austerities

asanas - (sanskrit) steady poses

pranayama - (sanskrit) control of vital energy through breath regulation

pratyahana - (sanskrit) withdrawl of the senses

dharana - (sanskrit) concentration

dhyana - (sanskrit) meditation

laja samadhi - (sanskrit) is a latent ("laja"), potential level of samadhi. It begins in deep meditation or trance

savikalpa - (sanskrit) mind freed from desire, yet dualism remains

nirvikalpa - (sanskrit) samadhi

samadhi - (sanskrit) a blessed state in which the individual transcends desire and suffering and attains nirvana

bhava-samadhi - (sanskrit) ecstasy in which the devotee retains his ego and enjoys communion with the Personal God

nirvana - (sanskrit) blowing out, buddhist term for the 'extinction' of the ego leading to enlightenment and bliss

moksha - (sanskrit) liberation

satori - (japanese) glimpse of samadhi

chakras - (sanskrit) literally wheel, circle, denotes energy centers

sahasrara - (sanskrit) brain

ajna - (sanskrit) thrid eye

vishuddha - (sanskrit) throat

anahata - (sanskrit) heart

manipura - (sanskrit) navel

swadhisthana- (sanskrit) genetalia

muladhara - (sanskrit) coccyx

agni - (sanskrit) the god of fire

ajana - (sanskrit) heaven, dwelling place of the gods

maya - (sanskrit) ignorance

akasa - (sanskrit) ether

prana - (sanskrit) breath of life, cosmic energy,

bhagvan - (sanskrit) epithet of God

rajas - (sanskrit) impurity, dust, the darkening quality of passion,

purusha - (sanskrit) soul, the indwelling self

guna - (sanskrit) quality, attribute,

soma - (sanskrit) fermented liquid drunk by the priests,

sannyasin - (sanskrit) a renouncer, an ascetic,

arhat - (chinese) monk having attained nirvana

bodhisattva - (sanskrit) a person who has generated spontaneous bodhichitta but who has not yet become a Buddha

bodhichitta - (sanskrit) the quality of mind of a Bodhisattva, one who does spiritual practice for the benefit of all beings

atman - (sanskrit) the individual in hindu thought, dependent on worship of brahman,

brahman - (sanskrit) lit. growth, means the ulimate reality, possessed of being, consciousness and bliss and dependent on nothing else for existence

advaita - (sanskrit) non dualistic form on vedanta

vedanta - (sanskrit) the most influential of the schools of hinduism,

adhyatman - (sanskrit) belonging to the self, or supreme spirit

vipassana - (pali) insight, buddhist term to describe mediation and its effect

agma - (sanskrit) what has come down, authorative religious text,

ahamkara - (sanskrit) the ego

ahanta - (sanskrit) eternal

buddhi - (sanskrit) intellect

ahimsa - (sanskrit) nonviloence,

mana - (pali) perception

vedas - (sanskrit) the earliest hindu sacred texts, passed down orally and then composed over a millenium beginning 1400bc

satchitananda - (sanskrit) being, consciousness, bliss

anattavada - buddhist doctrine of no-soul

wu wei - (chinese) non doing

aradhya - (sanskrit) object of worship

avatara - (sanskrit) descents of the supreme being into the physical world

avidya - (sanskrit) ignorance,

bhakti - (sanskrit) devotion, love of God

sangha - (pali) monastery,

dharma - (sanskrit) duty, right, justice, virtue, religion

dhamma - (pali) The Doctrine, The Teaching of the Buddha, The Law, nature, the Truth, Ultimate Reality

samana - (pali) contemplative, literally, a person who abandons the conventional obligations of social life

karma - (sanskrit) fruits of action, duty, universal justice,

sutra - (sanskrit) lit. rope or thread, refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such

sunya - (sanskrit) emptiness

samsara - (sanskrit) wheel of rebirth

bodhipakkhiya dhamma - (pali) the 37 qualities contributing to enlightenment

sammasamadhi - (pali) right meditation, being all one,

anapansatiyoga - (pali) mindfulness of breath coming in and breath going out

dukkha - (pali) all existence is unsatisfactory

anicca - (pali) all existence is impermanent

anatta - (pali) there is no permanent self

mahayana - (sanskrit) greater vehicle

hinayana - (sanskrit) lesser vehicle

theravada - (sanskrit) doctrine of the elders, form of hinayana

zen - (japanese) form of mahayana that developed in china in 600ad

tathagata - (sanskrit) a synonym of Buddha, to refer to the historical Buddha, or to the office of Buddha

chittopad - (pali) decision, determination,

yatha bhutam - (pali) that which is

shraddha - (pali) self confidence

karuna - (sanskrit) compassion

tathata - (pali) suchness

upeksha - (sanskrit) indifference

shunyata - (sanskrit) zero

tantra - (sanskrit) lit. loom, philosophy in which the ultimate reality is conceived of siva-sakti,

samkhya - (sanskrit) knowledge,

shirshasan - (sanskrit) headstand

siddhasan - (sanskrit) sitting yogic posture

samsar - (sanskrit) the world

mudras - (sanskrit) visions, outward expressions of psychic transformation

upanishads - (sanskrit) are part of the Hindu Shruti scriptures which primarily discuss meditation and philosophy, literally it means sitting down near

om - (sanskrit) yes, verily, so be it,

adhitthana - (pali) decision, resolution, self determination, will

anatta - (pali) not self, egolessness

atta - (pali) self, ego

bhavana - (sanskrit) mental culture

dukkha - (pali) suffering

dana - (sanskrit) generosity, giving

citta - (sanskrit) thought

deva - (sanskrit) god, diety

siddhi - (sanskrit) psychic power

magga - (pali) the path, the way

tanha - (pali) craving, desire, thirst

nama - (pali) mind, name, mental factors, mentality

iddhipada - (pali) the four paths of accomplishment

jhana - (sanskrit) meditation, trance, ecstasy, absorption, a state of serene contemplation attained by meditation

kamma - (pali) a volitional action

kammatthana - (pali) the act of meditation or contemplation, subjects of meditation exercises

kalpa (sanskrit) - an aeon, world cycle

tipitaka - (pali) the three baskets, the three divisions of the buddhist canon: vinaya, sutta and abhidhamma

upadana - (pali) attachment, clinging

sila - (pali) morality

parami - (pali) perfections, stages of spiritual perfection achieved by a boddhisattva on his path to buddhahood

panna - (pali) wisdom, insight

nibbana - (pali) the extinction of the fires of greed, of hatred and ignorance, the unconditioned, the supreme goal of buddhism,

satipatthana - (pali) the four foundations of mindfulness

karuna - (pali) compassion

puja - (pali) worship (external and mental, honor, veneration, homage, devotional offering)

majjima patipada - (pali) the middle way (the eightfold noble path)

saddha - (pali) faith, confidence

samudaya - (sanskrit) the cause of suffering: clinging to desire

mantra - (sanskrit) sacred or magical formula