Explore list of project topics and research ideas in Philosophy for undergraduate student in Nigeria
Philosophy is the systematic study of the foundations of human knowledge with an emphasis on the conditions of its validity and finding answers to ultimate questions. While every other science aims at investigating a specific area of knowledge, such as physics or psychology, philosophy has been defined as “thinking about thinking.” At the same time, as expressed by its Greek etymology, philosophy is the love of wisdom. Traditionally at least, it is not the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but rather the attempt to discover the meaning and purpose of existence, including through intellectual means, but including also self-reflection, discipline, and religious practice and inquiry. Though the term philosophy is of Western origin and implies a kind of investigation typical of western culture, it has its equivalents in the various other cultures of the world, notably India, China and the Middle East.
The Nature of Philosophy
Methods and definitions
Philosophy has almost as many definitions as there have been philosophers, both as a subject matter and an activity. The word is derived from the ancient Greek word “Φιλοσοφία” (philo-sophia), which means “love of wisdom.” Though no single definition of philosophy is uncontroversial, and the field has historically expanded and changed depending upon what kinds of questions were interesting or relevant in a given era, it is generally agreed that philosophy is a method, rather than a set of claims, propositions, or theories. Its investigations are based upon rational thinking, striving to make no unexamined assumptions and no leaps based on faith or pure analogy. Different philosophers have had varied ideas about the nature of reason, and there is also disagreement about the subject matter of philosophy. Some think that philosophy examines the process of inquiry itself. Others, that there are essentially philosophical propositions which it is the task of philosophy to prove. The issue of the definition of philosophy is nowadays tackled by Metaphilosophy (or the philosophy of philosophy). Modern usage of the term is extremely broad, covering reflection on every aspect of human knowledge and the means by which such knowledge can be acquired. In the contemporary English-speaking academic world, the term is often used implicitly to refer to analytic philosophy and, in non-English speaking countries, it often refers implicitly to a different, European strain, continental philosophy.
Until the Renaissance, ‘philosophy’ and ‘science’ were considered the same discipline. This earlier tradition remains today in the expression PhD, or “Philosophiae Doctor” (doctor of philosophy), which is by no means limited to graduates of philosophy proper, as one can have a PhD in biology, music, or nursing to name but a few areas of expertise. Similarly, German-speaking academia still knows the division between “Philosophy I” (philosophy and the humanities) and “Philosophy II” (the natural sciences).
Many ancient Greek philosophers distinguished the desire for wisdom from desires for material things, vices, and the satisfaction of bodily desires. The definition of wisdom for many ancient Greeks would have been about virtue and the desire for knowledge as opposed to false opinions. However, the term is notoriously difficult to define because of the diverse range of ideas that have been labeled as philosophy. The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy defines it as the study of “the most fundamental and general concepts and principles involved in thought, action, and reality.” The Penguin Encyclopedia says that philosophy differs from science in that philosophy’s questions cannot be answered empirically, and from religion in that philosophy allows no place for faith or revelation. However, these points are called into question by the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, which states: “the late 20th-century… prefers to see philosophical reflection as continuous with the best practice of any field of intellectual enquiry.” Indeed, many of the speculations of early philosophers in the field of natural philosophy eventually formed the basis for modern scientific explanations on a variety of subjects.
Philosophy as a Worldview
A “philosophy” may also refer to a general worldview or to a specific ethic or belief that can be utterly unrelated to academic philosophical considerations. This meaning of the term is perhaps as important as the classical definition, because it affects each human being. Virtually everyone, knowingly or unknowingly, lives and operates based upon a set of values and beliefs that are often unexpressed and even unconscious. As a result, the may easily be incompatible and contradictory, leaving those who maintain them with a sense of uneasiness. If a man professes that “only money counts in life,” this is a philosophical stance. However, it is most likely to be at odds with other convictions held by that same individual, such as a secret passion for art or love for his family.
Philosophy once competed with theology and mathematics for the title of “queen of the sciences.” Today, it is often considered empty and useless speculation, finding no place along practical and technical concerns and religious or ideological beliefs. However, efforts are being made to remove philosophy from its crumbling ivory tower and make it into a discipline, academic or other, that can lead to a clarification of one’s personal opinions and goals, as well as an informed evaluation of the many issues in public life.
Branches, schools and doctrines
The ancient Greeks organized the subject into five basic categories: metaphysics, epistemology and logic, ethics, politics and aesthetics. This organization of the subject is still partly in use in Western philosophy today, but the notion of philosophy has become more restricted to the key issues of being, knowledge, and ethics. At the same time, there has been an explosion of “philosophies of,” meaning a philosophical inquiry into just about any field, including politics and art, but also science (philosophy of science), religion (philosophy of religion) and many others. There are many places where these subjects overlap, and there are many philosophical ideas that cannot be placed neatly into only one of these categories.
Thus, philosophy involves asking questions such as whether God exists, what is the nature of reality, whether knowledge is possible, and what makes actions right or wrong. More specifically, each branch has its own particular questions. Logic asks: How do we distinguish arguments from premises to conclusions as valid or invalid? How can we know that a statement is true or false? Epistemology asks: Is knowledge possible? How do we know what we know? What kinds of questions can we answer? Ethics asks: Is there a difference between morally right and wrong actions, values, or institutions? Which actions are right and which are wrong? Are values absolute or relative? What is justice? What are natural laws? How is it best to live? What is happiness? Is there a normative value on which all other values depend? Are values ‘in’ the world (like tables and chairs) and if not, how should we understand their ontological status? Aesthetics asks: What is beauty? What is art? And metaphysics asks: What is reality? What exists? Do things exist independently of perception?
Schools, with each their specific set of doctrines, have originated, evolved, and sometimes disappeared centered on specific areas of interest. Thus, early (pre-Socratic Greek philosophy centered on the issue of cosmology, ontology, and generally questions on the origin and nature of reality, while Socrates redirected the focus of philosophy on ethics and epistemology. Generally, each era of human history and each area of the world has concentrated its attention on those fields and topics that were of greatest interest to its particular culture and society. Few systems, such as those of Plato and Aristotle, cover the majority of all possible philosophical endeavors.
The interaction between philosophical worldviews can be considered both vertically and horizontally. Horizontally, all thought originating in a particular period and area of the world will share common traits, even though individual thinkers may oppose each other vehemently. Thus, the middle ages was a time of interest in God and religious questions, while the modern era emphasized issues related to epistemology. African thought has a natural interest in spiritual issues and spiritualism, while Eastern philosophy emphasizes the harmony and complementarity of humans and nature.
Vertically, certain trends, largely associates with specifics areas of interest (e.g., ethics or epistemology), have evolved over the centuries, with early thinkers directly and indirectly influencing much later thinkers through a complex web of interaction. This has given rise to doctrines like idealism and realism, the first insisting on the spiritual or ideal essence of reality, the second generally insisting on the practical and often material nature of things. But such overall doctrinal characterizations can be very misleading: Plato, the foremost idealist, was a realist when it cam to his belief in the “reality” of ideas. Thus, there have been an immense variety of forms and combinations of these two major trends, resulting in a complexity that defies any attempt at a fixed classification.
More specific trends or doctrines, within a certain area of philosophy, such as deontology in ethics, can be followed with somewhat greater ease and accuracy. Nevertheless, a clear-cut and generally accepted articulation can hardly ever emerge.
Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline. We have researched and reviewed the best research project topics in Philosophy.
Philosophers on Philosophy
What is philosophy? Some would respond by listing its major subfields such as logic, ethics, and epistemology; on the other hand, it has also been said that “philosophy is the study of its own history” (i.e., its own literature). However, some noted philosophers have attempted to address these issues central to philosophy’s subject matter and how it is treated:
… [philosophy] is the acquisition of knowledge.—Plato, Euthydemus, 288d.
… [that] philosophy only is the true one which reproduces most faithfully the statements of nature, and is written down, as it were, from nature’s dictation, so that it is nothing but a copy and a reflection of nature, and adds nothing of its own, but is merely a repetition and echo.Francis Bacon, The Enlargement of Science, 1. 2, ch. 3
To repeat abstractly, universally, and distinctly in concepts the whole inner nature of the world, and thus to deposit it as a reflected image in permanent concepts always ready for the faculty of reason, this and nothing else is philosophy.Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. I, §68
Philosophy is the science by which the natural light of reason studies the first causes or highest principles of all things – is, in other words, the science of things in their first causes, in so far as these belong to the natural order…Jacques Maritain, An Introduction to Philosophy, 69
The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a theory but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. The result of philosophy is not a number of ‘philosophical propositions’, but to make propositions clear. Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 4.112
… [philosophers] are not honest enough in their work, although they make a lot of virtuous noise when the problem of truthfulness is touched even remotely. They all pose as if they had discovered and reached their real opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic… ; while at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed a kind of “inspiration”—most often a desire of the heart that has been filtered and made abstract—that they defend with reasons they have sought after the fact. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Part One: On the Prejudices of Philosophers, §5
In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e., he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e., he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.
Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs it, Chapter One: Philosophy: Who Needs it
“The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.”Bertrand Russell, (From The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, Lecture II)
List Of Philosophy Project Topics and Research Ideas
|1.||The Thanos Question: The overpopulation of the Earth; are there humane ways to prevent it?|
|2.||What should be done about Global Mass Extinction: Flight or Allow Nature Decide?|
|3.||Are We Already Experiencing the Third World War?|
|4.||Secret Societies in History and Present Day|
|5.||Was Mother Teresa good for the world?|
|6.||Has the Gender Gap been closed or has Gender Bias been Rebranded?|
|7.||Will the Global Class System ever be Eliminated?|
|8.||The Connection between Religion and Global Ethnical Conflicts|
|9.||Is a Universal Religion Possible?|
|10.||Should there be a Relationship Between Sexual orientation and gender?|
|11.||The Relationship Between Sports and War Fare|
|12.||Are we experiencing too much Football and will a one-year break help or ruin it?|
|13.||What Can Be done about global poverty?|
|14.||Does the power over the globe now belongs to corporations, not governments?|
|15.||Civil wars: are they internal affairs or the symptoms of global events?|