The field of philosophy offers a great multitude of interesting essay and research paper topics. This list of philosophy topics has been constructed to assist students who wish to explore a number of ideas in a specific time period or in a distinct subfield of philosophy. Defining philosophy is itself a philosophical problem. Perhaps a great many philosophers would agree that whatever else philosophy is, it is the critical, normally systematic study of an unlimited range of ideas and issues.
The best way to clarify these broad characterizations of philosophy is to describe its principal subfields. It is appropriate to start with what might be called traditional subfields of philosophy, most commonly taken to be epistemology, ethics, logic, metaphysics, and the history of philosophy.
Philosophy Topics in Five Central Subfields
Philosophy Topics in Other Major Subfields
- Philosophy of Education
- Philosophy of History
- Philosophy of International Relations
- Philosophy of Language
- Philosophy of Law
- Philosophy of Mind
- Philosophy of Religion
- Philosophy of Science
- Philosophy of Sexuality
Philosophy is the systematic and critical study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and much more. Every domain of human existence raises questions to which its techniques and theories apply, and its methods are applicable in the study of any subject or the pursuit of any vocation. Its inquiries encompass the critical study of knowledge and reality, of value and obligation, of religion and science, of language and literature, of art and the professions. In the academy, philosophical studies enhance the capacity for problem solving, the ability to understand and express ideas, and the power to frame cogent arguments. In the culture in which it is practiced, philosophy can be a critical voice, a defender of ideals, a creator of visions.
Philosophy also develops understanding and enjoyment of things whose absence impoverishes many lives: aesthetic experience, communication with many different kinds of people, discussion of current issues, the discerning observation of human behavior, and intellectual zest in the pursuit of knowledge. For individuals in or outside the academy, the study of philosophy provides a major route to developing a well-reasoned vision of the good life and an ability to communicate this vision, defend it, and where necessary modify it. A well-reasoned vision of what human life ought to be yields an ordered set of long-term goals and a sense of the significance of life; it provides, often, the steady intellectual stimulation of comparing a theory of human experience with the constantly changing, ever-surprising panorama that our experience is; and it anchors our relations with others in a framework that enables us to conceive human conduct with some measure of clarity and understanding.
Philosophy begins with wonder, and the West has no monopoly on wonder. Human beings from diverse cultures have wondered about such things as truth, knowledge, logic, morality, and the nature of the human and also the transcendent. While the way questions are posed and answers are given may vary significantly from culture to culture, the topics of philosophy are truly multicultural. Dividing human development into distinct periods has an element of unavoidable arbitrariness. The point to be emphasized by utilizing such divisions, however, is that philosophical thinking is a growing concern and that stages of growth are usually recognizable. The topics covering diverse philosophical traditions will, it is hoped, display that growth and also the commonality of human wonder.