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Types of philosophy and main currents of thought

Types of philosophy and main currents of thought

July 13, 2024

Philosophy is something difficult to define , so it is also very complicated to classify the different types of Philosophical currents that exist. However, it is not impossible

Then you can see the main types of philosophy and ways of thinking that have driven the work of many of the most important thinking minds of humanity. Although they do not serve to fully describe the work of philosophers, it helps to understand the ideas from which they have departed and the purposes they pursued.

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Types of philosophy according to their content

The philosophy can be classified according to its branches , that is, from the issues and problems that are addressed from it. In this sense, the classification is as follows:

Moral philosophy

Moral philosophy is responsible for examining the problem of What is the good and the evil and what kind of actions are considered good and bad, and it also reflects on whether there is a single criterion to determine the latter. It is a type of philosophy concerned with the direction our lives should take, either in a general sense (without taking into account the personal characteristics of each one) or more individual (differentiating according to different types of individuals).

For example, Aristotle was one of the most prominent philosophers of morality, and opposed the moral relativism of the sophists because he believed that good and evil were absolute principles.


Ontology is the branch of philosophy that is responsible for answering this question: What does it exist and in what way? For example, Plato believed that the material world of what we can see, touch and hear exists only as a shadow of another world situated above it, the world of ideas.

It is not a branch of philosophy so concerned about morality as for what, beyond good and evil, exists and shapes reality.


Epistemology is the part of philosophy that is responsible for examining what is what we can get to know and in what way we can know it. It is a very important philosophical branch for the philosophy of science, which is in charge of controlling that the affirmations that are based on scientific research are well founded, in addition to the scientific research methods themselves.

However, the philosophy of science is not the same as epistemology. In fact, the first focuses on knowledge systems that appear through scientific methods, while epistemology deals with all processes of knowledge extraction in general, whether scientific or not.

Types of philosophy according to their description of reality

Different kinds of philosophers think in reality differently: some are monist and others are dualistic .

Dualistic philosophy

In the dualist philosophy it is considered that the ideas and consciousness of the human mind is part of an independent reality of the material world. That is, there is a spiritual plane that does not depend on the physical world. The philosopher René Descartes is an example of a dualist philosopher, although he also recognized a third fundamental substance: that of the divine.

Monistic Philosophy

The monistic philosophers believe that all reality is composed of one substance . Thomas Hobbes, for example, captured this idea through the assertion that man is a machine, implying that even mental processes are the fruit of the interaction between components of the material.

However, monism does not have to be materialistic and consider that everything that exists is matter. For example, George Berkeley was idealistic monist, since he considered that everything is formed by the divided component of the Christian god.

In any case, in practice monism has been it has historically been closely related to mechanism and materialism in general, since it is a way of cornering issues that many thinkers thought too abstract and not significant because they are pure metaphysics.

Types of philosophy according to their emphasis on ideas

Historically, certain philosophers have emphasized the importance of ideas over and above what influences the material context , while another have shown the opposite trend.

Idealist philosophy

Idealistic philosophers believe that the changes of what happens in reality appear in the minds of people , and then spread out modifying the material environment. Plato For example, he was an idealist philosopher, because he believed that intellectual work appeared in the mind "remembering" absolute truths found in the world of ideas.

Materialist philosophy

The materialist philosophy emphasizes the role of the material context and objective when explaining the appearance of new ways of thinking. For example, Karl Marx claimed that ideas are the fruit of the historical context in which they are born and of the stage of technological progress associated with it, and BF Skinner accused the idealists of being "creationists of the mind" by thinking that ideas They are born spontaneously regardless of the context in which individuals live.

Types of philosophy according to their conception of knowledge

Historically, two blocks have stood out in this context: the rationalist philosophers and the empiricist philosophers .

Rationalist philosophy

For rationalists, there are truths to which the human mind has access regardless of what they can learn about the environment, and these truths allow knowledge to be constructed from them. Again, René Descartes is an example in this case, because he believed that we gain knowledge "remembering" truths that are already incorporated in our mind and that are self-evident, like mathematical truths.

In a sense, researchers like Steven Pinker or Noam Chomsky, who have defended the idea that the human being has innate ways of managing information that comes from outside, could be seen as defenders of some of these ideas.

Empiricist philosophy

The empiricists denied the existence of innate knowledge in humans, and believed that everything we know about the world arises through interaction with our environment. David Hume was a radical empiricist, arguing that there are no absolute truths beyond the beliefs and assumptions we have learned that are useful to us without necessarily being true.

PHILOSOPHY - Plato (July 2024).

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