JACOB'S LADDER: Recorded in the Hebrew book of Genesis, this is the dream of Jacob of a ladder stretching to the heavens upon which the angels of God ascended and descended. The image has become a modern symbol of the link between the human and the divine and has been popularized in spiritual song.
JAINISM: A 6th century B.C.E. protest against the Hinduism of India that developed into a separate religious system. Its holy text is the Acarangasutra. Jainists generally follow a path of moderation, charity and respect for all animals and tend to stress ascetic principles.
JANSENISM: A doctrine of morality as the determinant of salvation closely associated with 17th and 18th century Christianity in Western Europe. Condemned by Rome as heretical in the 18th century, Jansenism had many defendants among reformers at the time. Named after Charles Jansen. Used colloquially at times as a synonym of Puritanism or any strict moral interpretation of sexual purity or an interpretation of sexuality as evil.
JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES: A denomination loosely classified as Protestant that believes it worships God as revealed in the Holy Bible as JEHOVAH, rejecting the notion of God revealed as a Trinity. Founded in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1872 by a former Congregationalist layman, Charles Taze Russell, Jehovah's Witnesses are sometimes called Russellites. Witnesses are pacifists and do not take part in government proceedings. They refuse allegiance to any government, and often refuse medical assistance, especially in the form of blood transfusions. The denomination is organized under three legal corporations: The Watch Tower and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc., and the International Bible Students Association of England. Jehovah's Witnesses are known for their door-to-door solicitation of inquirers and their sales of Witness literature, in particular copies of The Watchtower. The Jehovah's Witnesses use only the World Version of The Holy Bible. See versions of the Bible .
JESUITS: A religious order founded by Ignatius of Loyola and technically known as the Society of Jesus. Often controversial in their theological and social doctrines. Many Roman Catholic Universities in the United States are operated under the auspices of the Jesuits.
JESUS (OF NAZARETH) OR JESUS CHRIST: The annointed Son of God who visited humanity through the incarnation, a literal becoming of flesh by God, according to Christian doctrine. Jesus is considered the second member of the Christian TRINITY, with the Father and the HOLY SPIRIT, who is worshipped and revered by Christians as the exclusive pathway to salvation for believers. Many Christians hold that to become one with Christ is to be born again spiritually. The life of Jesus is recorded in the GOSPELs of the HOLY BIBLE. Born of a Jewish mother, Mary, Jesus is believed by many Christians to have been conceived by the spirit of God and adopted as a son by Mary's betrothed husband, Joseph. Born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, Jesus became an itinerant preacher and reformer of the synagogue, gathering to himself a small band of disciples who accompanied him in his proclamation of the coming of the kingdom of God. Christians believe Jesus of Nazareth is the prophesied MESSIAH. He was accused of blasphemy, tried and convicted. Romans put him to death by crucifixion. Christians believe that three days after being crucified, Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to many of his disciples. His birth is celebrated on CHRISTMAS Day, his death on Good Friday, his resurrection on EASTER. MUSLIMS revere Jesus as a prophet during a time prior to Mohammed.
JIHAD: Arabic term for "holy war." Militant Muslims believe they are engaged in a holy war that pits right against wrong, justice against injustice, and Allah against Satan. They engage in jihad in order to usher in khilafa, the state that will unite all Muslims.
JUDAISM: The religion of the Jews as recorded in the Torah and the Hebrew books of history and the prophets. Judaism developed a monotheistic religion with a God of compassion, justice and mercy. It traces its covenantal relationship with the living God to Abraham and through Moses, Israel, David and others to modern Jewish religion.
JUDGMENT - The activity of the mind that describes or interprets reality, including, but not limited to, concepts, true and false empirical evidence, and valid and invalid logical arguments.
KAMI: Japanese word for gods or spirits, especially associated with traditional Shinto ceremonies and festivals. Shinto recognizes many spirits in nature and in the family. Christianity in Japan has translated the word kami as God or Lord when used in Christian context. English-speaking people may recognize the term in the Japanese word kamikaze that describes the suicide fighter planes of World War II named for the literal "wind of the Gods."
KARMA: The Sanskrit word for fate or work. In Buddhism and Hinduism, karma, which is often capitalized, refers to a force that determines a person's life in the next existence; it is often based on highly ethical principles. Because karma is related to a person's actions, it has close affinities with the notion of vibrations.
KNOWLEDGE - A statement that can be affirmed both by empirical facts and by valid logic; Sometimes a statement that by its nature can be and is affirmed by valid logic, not necessarily by empirical observation (one's own existence, for example).
KNOWLEDGE AS INITIATED IN AN EXPERIENCE: Knowledge can only be initiated by an experience (or phenomena) and that the mind is unable to know the real source or ground of experience. Kant's phenomenalism is an example of this type of skepticism. Kant maintained that the best we could do was describe the surface appearance of things (phenomena: the object of perception; that which appears; that which is perceived) because the real nature of things, the way things really are (noumena: according to Kant: that which transcends experience and all rational knowledge; but according to Plato: that which is apprehended by our reason alone, without any involvement of our senses, intuition, or other levels of apprehension; Plato was not a skeptic) is not accessible to us.
KNOWLEDGE: As classically construed knowledge is justified true belief. Recent worries about the sufficiency of justification currently inspire attempts to appeal to "external relations" such as causation in justification's stead. (See my handout Knowledge as Justified True Belief for further brief discussion).
KORAN ORQU'RAN: The holy writings of Islam believed to have been revealed through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad by Allah during the month of RAMADAN. Many Muslims say the correct translation from Arabic is Qu'ran, but the style of most Western writers is Koran. See also Sunnah. See also hadith. Muhammad could not read or write, but his followers memorized the teachings and wrote them. [The AP Style Book advises following the spelling usage of a group in question.]
KRISHNA: A popular deity in Hinduism who represents the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. Lord Krishna is a key figure in the epic poem of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita, depicted as one who imparts wisdom that reinvigorates a life of love, selflessness, and devotion.
LATTER DAY SAINTS, LATTER-DAY SAINTS: Often abbreviated LDS, this phrase refers to the church founded by Joseph Smith in the 18th Century and known popularly as the church of Mormon. The official name of the church is the Church of Latter-Day Saints. The words come from the book of Mormon, which Smith claimed to have discovered and translated as a modern message from God meant to augment the Christian scriptures.
LAW OF NON-CONTRADICTION - The law of non-contradiction is one of the most important principles in the realm of logic. Essentially, "two contradictory propositions cannot both be true at the same time in the same sense." For instance, Christians believe that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone, and Muslims believe that salvation is through Mohammed and Allah alone. Yet pluralists contend that both religions are true; however, the law of non-contradiction states that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time. Therefore, one of the propositions must be false.
LITURGY: A term derived from the Latin and Greek words referring to public service and words related to the people; thus, it is often defined as "the work or service of the people." Formally, liturgy refers to the rituals, ideas and activities including musical activities -- associated with public worship. When capitalized, the word specifically refers to a Christian rite often labeled The DIVINE LITURGY. In many Christian denominations, liturgy is a formal study for seminarians and others interested in the worship practices of the church. Many Christian denominations de-emphasize formal ritual and are labeled as "non-liturgical" churches.
LOGIC - A study of the principles of thought by which one may distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. Deductive logic argues from the general to the specific; it focuses on the correct form of an argument, deducing the validity of propositions and conclusions. Inductive logic argues from the specific to the general; it focuses on (usually) empirical evidence and/or information and the subsequent certainty or probability of the conclusion. Logic, properly applied in conjunction with sufficient evidence and/or information, should enable one to obtain knowledge of reality, truth in a given instance. Correct reasoning; The study of the principles of correct reasoning. The study of arguments and argument forms. ( logos = argument, word) The study of the most general truths - those truths which are independent of any particular subject matter.
LOGICAL EMPIRICIST: A term for those 20th century philosophers who maintain that empiricism is right on purely logical (not psychological) grounds. Empiricism becomes a theory about the meaning of synthetic propositions: namely, that their meaning can be given entirely in experiential, or phenomenal terms.
LOGICAL In everyday speech, people often use the word "logical" like this: "John's attitude to smoking just isn't logical," or: "Spock is incapable of emotion because he tries to be so logical." You should not speak this way in philosophical discussions. In philosophy, the word "logic" has a special technical meaning. (If you want to know what it is, you'll have to take some courses in logic.) You should say instead: John's attitude to smoking is unreasonable. Also, don't say such things as: "That was a logical point," or "That was a logical objection," or "This is a logical argument." Say instead: That was a fair or convincing point. or: That is a reasonable objection. or: This is a valid or persuasive argument.
LOGICAL POSITIVISM - Positivism was a school of thought which originated in the 1920s and 1930s which essentially held that all propositions, whether metaphysical or physical, are meaningless unless they can be empirically verified (the verification principle). However, the idea was a self-refuting proposition since it could not be empirically verified itself - i.e. logical positivism, like other propositions, could not pass the test of empirical verification.
LOGICAL POSITIVISM - see empiricism.
LOGOS - This Greek term, meaning "word" (but much more) was first introduced into the stream of human thought by the philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (d. 475 BC). Though, Heraclitus stressed that "change" was the one constant in the universe, He also began to develop the idea that God, in a monistic sense, was the unifying principle and underlying Reason (logoV) behind the universe ; thus, he recognized change and diversity, on the one hand, yet a coherent, unchangeable unity, on the other. "Reason" (logoV), then, was the governing principle of the universe according to Heraclitus. In later centuries, the Stoic philosophers (300 BC-150 AD) would borrow this conception from Heraclitus and integrate it into their cosmology as well.
It is perhaps most interesting, though, that the Apostle John, writing his gospel from Ephesus (the home of the famous Heraclitus) about AD 90, uses the term "logos" in his prologue to refer to the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, we can infer from John's usage of this technical philosophical term that he was entirely aware that he was making a connection between the abstract Heraclitean conception of universal "Reason" and the true " logos " who is Jesus Christ. In sum, that which the Greek philosophers could only speculate about was actually realized in the person of Jesus Christ. The fact that the Johannine gospel was written twenty years after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 while the Jews were in exile in Hellenic lands further strengthens this argument, since Greek philosophical ideas (such as "the logos") were well known by learned people everywhere. At the same time, however, it must be noted that the Apsotle John drew from the idea of "dabar YHWH" (Heb. = "word of YHWH"), and brought together both the Hellenistic and Judaic ideas of "the word" into a higher unity - something which is not exclusively Greek nor Jewish, but rather, something which is an entirely new creation - something which is entirely Christian.
LUTHER, MARTIN: German priest who reformed Christianity in the 16th century by posting 95 theses (arguments) on the door of the cathedral at Worms, mostly opposing the practice of indulgences, the payment of fees for prayers aimed at effecting the salvation of souls. Luther's provincial debate became a regional and national--and eventually worldwide--revolt in the church and led to the establishment of many PROTESTANT churches throughout Europe. Luther's followers eventually established the LUTHERAN Church. A similar challenge led by a French reformer, John CALVIN, in Switzerland, brought about the Reformed Church that can be traced to modern Presbyterian and Reformed theology, often characterized as CALVINISM. Protestant Reformers also rose in France, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, and eventually in England. Luther, however, is often referred to as the "father" of the REFORMATION.
LYCEUM - The Athenian gardens where Aristotle founded his philosophical school in 335 BC. Even as Plato called his school The Academy , Aristotle called his school The Lyceum. It was the custom of Aristotle to teach while he walked with his students through the gardens, hence the term peripatetic (which means "to walk with")..
MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI: Master of TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION (T.M.) who introduced the practice to the Western world in 1959 through the popular music group, The Beatles. Guitarist George Harrison became a devotee of the Maharishi at that time.
MAHAYANA: A major branch of Buddhism that emphasizes the need to help all living things achieve liberation and venerates the enlightened one who postpones entrance into NIRVANA to aid others. See BODDHISATTVA; THERAVADA.
MATERIAL FALSITY: occurs when ideas represent non-things.
MATERIALISM - A philosophical term denoting that whatever exists is either composed of matter or is dependent upon matter for its composition. An atheist, for example, would consider himself a materialist. The metaphysical theory that views reality as only matter and its determinations; naturalism; physicalism. The view that all substance is material in nature; the view that all of reality is material.
MATERIALISM: The theory that holds that matter is the only fundamental substance. Spirits or minds either do not exist or are really, at bottom, manifestations of matter. Contrast: idealism, dualism. Compare: monism.
MATERIALIST (OR: PHYSICALISM) the position that reality consists of matter: that all existing substances (including minds) are really material. Materialism is therefore associated with realism and (in so far as matter is the basis of the order of nature) with naturalism.
MATTER - That which occupies space; that which has extension; that which can be discovered or discerned empirically, or with the senses.
MAXIM: An action guiding principle or policy, e.g., the carpenter's maxim, "Measure twice, cut once." For Kant, all human actions are undertaken under the color of maxims, and the moral character of the act - whether it's right or wrong - depends on the universalizability or nonuniversalizability of the maxim under color of which it is undertaken. See categorical imperative.
MEAN: a type of average; the result of a sum of a group of numbers being divided by the number of members in the group.
MEANINGLESS Something is meaningless if it is nonsense, like "XH$%^IE". Don't say that a claim is meaningless if all you mean is that it is false.
MEANS: An object (such as money) or activity (such as medical treatment) sought or pursued, not for it's own sake, but for the sake of something else (as money is sought for the things it can buy, and medical treatment undergone for the sake of health). Contrast: end.
MECCA: The holy place of ISLAM into which non-Muslims are forbidden to enter. Located in Western Saudi Arabia, Mecca is the birthplace of MUHAMMAD and the focal point of Muslim prayers, toward which every Muslim faces and prays five times each day. At the city's center is the Great Mosque, the HARAM, which encloses the KAABA, the most sacred Islamic sanctuary and the goal of Muslim pilgrimage, called the HAJJ.
MECHANISM: the view that reality is matter in motion. Typically, matter is seen as bits, called atoms, and there is space (void) to facilitate the motion of the atoms. Philosophical theory that denies "action at a distance" and holds, that natural systems, including living organisms, are complex machines. Descartes famously held this to be true of all nonhuman animals but not of human minds and their freely willed actions.
MEDIAN: a type of average; in a group of numbers, there are as many numbers in the group that are larger as are smaller than the median.
MENORAH: Typically, a seven-stick candelabra used by Jews. However, during the celebration of Hanukkah, the less-typical nine-candle menorah is used.
MENTALISM: The view that psychology must concern itself with abstract mental processes that are only distantly related to observed behavior. See behaviorism.
MESSIAH, MESSIAH: A Hebrew term meaning "the annointed one." Often an appelation given to the anointed king who was viewed as a savior of the people. Jews await the coming of the new messiah as deliverer. For Christians, the one and final Messiah is Jesus Christ.
METAPHYSICAL DUALISM: is the belief in two separate, distinct substances. Descartes believed that humans had a two-fold composition, those of soul substance (or mind) and body substance.
METAPHYSICS - Literally, "beyond physics" - in sum, metaphysics is the religio-philosophico pursuit of ultimate reality, i.e. that which underlies the unseen or noumenal realm. see noumena. Used to describe Aristotle's work by the Greek philosopher Andronicus of Rhodes (~ 70 BC) as the Greek ta meta ta physika, meaning "the things after the physics." It is generally considered to be synonymous with ontology, and is concerned with the study of the nature and structure of "being," or reality. The branch of philosophy which deals with the ultimate nature or conditions of things in a sense which goes beyond the empirical study of things undertaken in natural science ('meta-physics': beyond physics). Metaphysics therefore contrasts with epistemology – which deals with how we know things, not with how things are – but it is harder to distinguish metaphysics from ontology.
METEMPSYCHOSIS - Simply, this word is the Greek philosophical term for reincarnation or the transmigration of souls. If one is speaking of reincarnation in the context of Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.), then it would be more appropriate and erudite to use the phrase "the transmigration of souls. " If one is speaking of reincarnation within the context of Greek philosophy, then it would be more appropriate to use the term " metempsychosis."
METHOD OF DOUBT: Method of doubting everything conceivably doubtful, proposed by Descartes, with the aim of discovering what - if anything - can be known indubitably, with absolute certainty. Descartes concludes that the "Archimedian point" of certainty he seeks can be found in his unshakable assurance of his own existence as a thinker. See also: cogitio argument.
MILESIAN (OR IONIAN) SCHOOL - The Milesian school of philosophy refers to that group of pre-Socratic philosophers who lived on the coast of what is now western Turkey (the Ionian coast). The term Milesian comes from the name of the city Miletus, about thirty miles south of the city of Ephesus. ( Miletus is where the Apostle Paul met the Ephesian elders on his journey back to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey (Acts 20:17)). Thus, it was from this region, where eventually the seven cities of Revelation would be born, that the great pre-Socratic philosophers like Thales, Anaximander, Anaximanes, and Heraclitus would launch one of the greatest intellectual movements in history.
MIND - That which knows, perceives, understands, thinks, imagines, conceives, reasons, and wills. To a materialist, mind is either synonymous with brain, or is produced by brain. To a critical realist, mind is an immaterial entity or substance with personal consciousness.
MIND-BODY PROBLEM: A central problem of modern philosophy that originates with Descartes. It concerns how the mind and the body are related; especially, how they are able to causally interact as they would seem to do in perception and voluntary action. See also: dualism, idealism, materialism.
MODE: a type of average; in a group of numbers, the mode is the number that occurs most frequently.
MODERNITY a term currently much in vogue, used to refer not simply to the modern period in world or European history, i.e. roughly 1500 to the present, but to certain specific social, historical, cultural and intellectual developments which took place within that period, in particular industrialisation, urbanisation, technological development, the growth of capitalism and bourgeois society, the movement towards liberal democracy, individualism, and the advent of a new kind of awareness of history as an open-ended process of transformation. Pre-modern thus refers to characteristics of societies that have not undergone these transformations: traditional societies, as they are standardly referred to. MODERNISATION thus refers to the transition from traditional or pre-modern society to modern society. The term MODERNISM is used sometimes to refer to ideologies and philosophies that underpin, reflect, advocate or seek to justify the beliefs and social processes that constitute modernity, but it also has a narrower usage, to refer to developments in the arts and literature in the late C19 and early C20.
MONAD means unity or unit, and Leibniz argued in Monadology that only units can be substances. According to Leibniz, monads are the ultimate indivisible units or "true atoms" of all existence . Monads are not material: each monad is a self-activating, unique, center of "purpose" and "perception." Monads cannot interact, but are in a "preestablished harmony" with each other, by the grace of God.
MONISM - (1) The theory that all reality is one, or of one substance; that there is no qualitative difference between the stuff of the universe, the stuff of humans, or the stuff of reality. (2) One principle or nature is all that it takes to explain everything in reality. Primary monisms are idealism and materialism. (3) In epistemology, the theory that the idea and the object known are one in the cognitive act. The philosophical or religious view that ultimate reality is One. "All is One, and One is All." Monism resembles pantheism in the sense that, in pantheistic systems, "the All" (i.e. ultimate reality) is identified with God. A metaphysics, such as Spinoza's or Hegel's, which maintains that reality is composed of one fundamental kind of entity. Opposed to dualism.
MONISM: The theory that everything in the universe is composed of, or can be explained by or reduced to, one fundamental (type of) substance, energy, or force. In the modern era materialists take this one thing to be matter; idealists take the one fundamental (type of) thing to be mind. Compare: mechanism. Contrast: pluralism, dualism.
MONIST: one who believes that there is one kind of basic stuff or substance to the universe, from which everything is composed.
MONOTHEISM: the view that there is only one God
MORAL EVIL: evil that results from personal depravity. (murder, torture, evils caused by man upon another man)
MORMON CHURCH: Church built around book of Mormon, which is named after an ancient compiler and assembler who revealed himself to Joseph Smith in a revelation. Official title of the Mormon Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of LATTER DAY SAINTS. There are other breakaway churches that call themselves Mormon. Sociologically, Mormonism is considered a branch of Christianity, but recent theological studies by Christians have distanced historic Christianity from many doctrines adhered to by Mormons.
MOSQUE: A building in which MUSLIMs gather for prayer and worship. Technically, a mosque is not a "church" but architecturally and socially mosques perform a similar function as gathering places and symbols of the community of faith. Interestingly, the word mosque is rooted in the Arabic word for prostrating oneself, which is the primary form of worship and prayer for Muslims (men, at least). The tower of a mosque, known as a MINARET, is from where worshippers are called to prayer.
MYSTICISM - The belief that direct knowledge of God may be achieved by the human apart from both empirical experience and logical revelation; such knowledge generally is incommunicable.
MYSTICISM: Multiple meanings attach to the term, depending on the religious background. Generally, mysticism refers to some form of direct, subjective communication with or connectedness to the divine. Those who claim such experience are referred to as mystics; almost all biographies of great religious leaders are tinged with mysticism. An extremely valuable Web site devoted to mysticism in six major religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism) is compiled by a Christian laywoman and former computer programmer, Deb Platt. Platt's site also contains a glossary of mysticism containing many terms not handled in this glossary.