(with some religious terms)

A-C | D-F | G-L | J-M | N-Q | R-T | U-Z

NATURAL EVIL: evil that results from natural causes (disease, deformity, natural disasters, etc.)

NATURAL LAW: The rationally knowable morality which is founded in God's will for His creatures. Moral law is not innate, but deduced from experience according to Aquinas and Locke.

NATURAL THEOLOGY - Natural theology is an inference drawn from nature that there must be a God. In many cases, it is an attempt to prove the existence of God from this inference. We find this in the proofs of Thomas Aquinas (1224-74) and William Paley (1743-1805) (e.g. "Paley's Watchmaker" argument). A perfect example of natural theology can be found in Rom 1. see teleological argument. Knowledge about God that can be obtained by natural means by the exercise of reason and sense perception.  Contrast: revealed theology.

NATURALISM - Contrasted with "supernatuarlism," naturalists insist that the universe is a "closed system," i.e. there is no God who intervenes in the universe and in human affairs. Naturalists presuppose "evolution," and believe that science is the only way to come to an understanding of truth. A philosophical position that maintains that man is fully and essentially part of nature (i.e. has no 'supernatural' aspects or components) and is to be studied as such. For some naturalists, this means that human beings can be explained fully by the human sciences (psychology, sociology, political science and history, etc). Other naturalists maintain that there is nothing about human beings which cannot be explained by the physical sciences. This stronger form of naturalism, which incorporates materialism, is also sometimes referred to as SCIENTIFIC REALISM, the position that all of reality, human existence included, is susceptible to scientific explanation. In ethics and politics, the view that ethical judgements are descriptive and objective when properly made: that ethical terms could be replaced by obviously descriptive terms, as utilitarianism replaces “good” by “tending to produce the greatest possible balance of pleasure over pain for all sentient beings.”

NATURALISTIC FALLACY: In a book written early in this centruy, Principia Ethica, G.E. Moore put forward the view that naturalism (which see) in any of its forms commits the naturalistic fallacy. Moore thought that “good” names a “non-natural” “simple” quality and is never equivalent in meaning to any combination of natural qualities. This was revealed, Moore thought, by the fact that, after listing any “natural” quality of something (pleasurable, for example), we can always raise the question “but is it good?”. The mistake (which is not universally agreed always is a mistake) of deducing conclusions about what ought to be from premises that state only what is the case; or the other way about. Moore was first to name the fallacy, but now everyone refers to a much better and characteristically ironic statement in Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature:

NECESSARY - (1) In logic, any statement whose denial would involve a contradiction. (2) In ontology, the quality of a being that is eternal and needs nothing else to exist or continue to exist. A sentence, proposition thought, or judgement is necessary if it is true of any possible world. Some philosophers (e.g. A.J. Ayer) maintain that the truths of logic and mathematics are necessary because they are a priori, and a priori simply because they are analytic; similarly maintaining that contigent, a posteriori, and asynthetic are equivalent. What must be the case, as opposed to the merely possible (what might be the case) and the merely actual (what is the case). On Leibniz's analysis, what's necessary is the case in all possible worlds: under this conception a statement or thought that describes such a necessary state of affairs is said to be "true in all possible worlds."

NECESSARY CONDITION: this is a necessary condition for that if and only if that cannot be without this. (i.e. Oxygen is a necessary for fire).

NECESSARY TRUTH: a proposition is said to be necessarily true if and only if the denial of that proposition would involve a self-contradiction.

NEO-DARWINISM: Natural selection + "mutations" = evolutive change It is important here to point out that the problem of discovering the mechanism for evolutive change has been ongoing in the various fields related to biological science. The ideas that Charles Darwin first put forth in his Origin of Species in 1859 have changed markedly since their inception; nevertheless, evolutionary scientists have worked without pause in trying to discover the mechanism for evolutive change.

NEO-ORTHODOX, NEO-ORTHODOXY: A Protestant Christian theological movement of the 20th Century, specifically that associated with the systemaric writings of Swiss theologian Karl Barth and several of his contemporaries. Barth's work is most fully presented in his multi-volumed Church Dogmatics. Moreso than Barth, many of his followers and contemporaries have been influenced, as was Barth, by the philosophy of existentialism and its theological implications. Thus, theologians such as Emil Brunner, Rudolf Bultmann, and others, while not Barthians, are often, and perhaps technically in error, lumped together as neo-orthodox theologians.

NEO-PAGANISM: A modern movement that seeks to recover ancient traditions involving the natural world, especially those ancient tribal practices that honor and revere Mother Earth from whom all life is believed to emerge. Many Neo-Pagan revived religions elevate goddess worship to a place of prominence. The natural cycles of the Sun and the Moon become particularly important in Neo-Paganism.

NEOPLATONISM - A philosophical school of thought founded by Plotinus (AD 205-270) in Alexandria, Egypt. Drawing significantly from Platonism and other schools of Greek philosophy, Neoplatonism emphasized that all "being" emanates (or "flows out") from The One, or The Good (i.e. God). Similar to Gnosticism in many repects, Neoplatonism would pose a challenge to Christianity during the early centuries of the faith. Perhaps the most influential Neoplatonist would be Porphyry (AD 232-305), who would also become a serious critic of Christianity. Interestingly, the influential church father Origen (185-254) embraced some platonic ideas similar to Neoplatonism , although these ideas would be condemned by the fifth ecumenical council (Constantinople III) in 553. see emanation.

NEORATIONALIST: A term for those 20th century philosophers who wish to revive aspects of rationalism. Specifically, maintaining mentalism, as opposed to behaviorism, in psychology, possibly insisting on innateness in learning theory and on intensional structures in a scientific description of the world.

NEW AGE MOVEMENT: A modern spirituality awareness that links elements of religion with psychology and parapsychology. Generally an eclectic and syncretistic movement that takes more of its impetus from human potential philosophies than from the world's religions. Often, but not exclusively, associated with young, spiritually rebellious, "Aquarian flower children."

NICENE CREED: An ancient Christian statement of beliefs framed during the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and used in Christian churches to this day as a summary of Trinitarian Christian faith. The Nicene Creed has clarified several doctrines, most notable the nature of Christ as being "one substance" with God the Father -- as a defense against the Arian heresy -- and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit "who procedes from the Father and the Son", which led to a cleavage between the Western (Roman) Church and the Eastern (Orthodox) Church.

NICHIREN BUDDHISM:  Closely related to Soka Gakkai International, this is a form of Buddhism derived from the teaching of a 13th Century Japanese priest, Nichiren Daishonin, whose philosophy elaborates the teachings of the Buddha known as Siddhartha Gautama. Nichiren's teaching is called Lotus Sutra, which sees in all living beings the potential to attain enlightenment.  Through Soka Gakkai, this form of Buddhism has become popular in the Western world.

NIHILISM - As a doctrine of negation, nihilism maintains that religious and moral truths are entirely irrational. It then follows, in the words of Ivan, from Dostoyevski's The Brothers Karamazov, "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted." Nihilism is a pessimistic view of reality which results from "God is dead" thinking. In the words of Nietzsche, since there is no God, "there is no one to command, no one to obey, no one to transgress." Often, nihilists deny that life is meaningful or purposeful in any way, resulting in a sort of anarchistic worldview. As the French atheistic nihilist once said, "It matters not whether a man is a drunkard or a ruler of empires; in the end, both men will suffer the same fate" (Sartre). In the works of Franz Kafka and Albert Camus, nihilism is reduced to this sort of abusurdism as well, as they explore the themes of meaningless, despair, hopelessness, and the trivial nature of life itself. A polemical term first used in the late C18 to refer to the perceived tendency of certain thinkers to deny, wittingly or unwittingly, the reality of any kind of (moral, religious, human etc.) value. : The extreme stand that human beings can never really attain certain or reliable knowledge about anything. Gorgias, another sophist (c. 525 BCE) held that nothing exists because there is no such thing as true knowledge. ( nihil means nothing in Latin)

nirvana:  The Buddhist notion of the highest state of happiness and satisfaction that results when all desire is transcended and the self is obliterated. Nirvana Day:  February 13 celebration of Buddha's death by Mahayanan Buddhists.  Not considered a sad day but a commemoration of Buddha's attainment of a higher state.

NOETIC STRUCTURE - From the Greek term noew (noeo = "to understand" ). Essentially, a noetic structure can be defined as "the sum total of everything that a person believes" (Nash, Faith and Reason). Indeed, within a person's noetic structure there might be a number of erroneous beliefs; however, this matters not - the errors are also part of the person's noetic structure.

NOMINALISM - (from Latin nomen, nominalis = name) Nominalism is the view that universals do not exist in some ideal realm - they are just names (onoma). Thus, the nominalist's position is antithetical to Plato's theory of ideas. So, the existence of a thing is to be found in the particular, and not in the universal. Thus, instead of saying, "Man" (a universal), the nominalist would say "a man" (a particular). William of Ockham (1285-1389) was a leading nominalist. see Idealism. The theory that universals are not real but only class names (from Latin nomen, nominalis = name) the theory that things do not have essences, or that universals do not have an existence. Definitions, and languages in general, do not refer to things but deal with the names (terms) we attach to things. Therefore forms would have no external existence, but are merely names by which we group things with similar features. [Ockham: "Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity" or Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. Also known as the principle of ontological economy. These actual words are not found in the extent works of William of Ockham (c. 1285 - 1349), an English Franciscan and anti-realist.] The view (held by Berkeley, among others) that general terms, such as "table," do not express or refer to general concepts, abstract ideas, or any sort of really existing universals; there are just individual words and the individual things they refer to.

NOMINALIST: In the middle ages, someone who maintained that there wer no universals above and beyond particular individual things and words (marks on paper) in particular languages. See realist. Today, we tend to call someone a nominalist whose general account of the universe tries to get along without sanctioning things that are not realized completely in our experience. Goodman is often said to be a nominalist, and Quine may be said to have such tendencies (though Quine sanctions sets).

NON-TRUTH-FUNCTIONAL: An operator (i.e. something which if added to one or more propositions makes a (molecular) proposition) is non-truth-functional if and only if the truth value of a proposition in which it appears is not wholly determined by the truth value of the subsiduary propositions on which it operates. E.g. the truth value of “It is necessary that there are nine planets” and “It is believed that there are nine planets” is not determined by the truth value of “There are nine planets.” Hence the operators “It is believed that” are non-truth-functional operators. See truth-functional.

NOUMENA, NOUMENAL REALM - From the Greek, "thing in itself," in contrast with the idea of phenomena (or phenomenal realm) , as exposited in the thought of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Noumena, or the noumenal realm have to do with those aspects of reality which cannot be experienced through the senses (e.g. the spiritual world). Kant made a sharp distinction between the noumenal realm and the phenomenal realm , essentially stating that although the spiritual world most likely exists, we cannot experience it (or know it) as we do the phenomenal realm. We can see and touch the phenomenal realm (i.e. the world of matter), but we can't see and touch the noumenal realm. That which transcends appearance

NOUMENON - According to Kant, that which exists objectively, as opposed to that which our perception leads us to think exists (the phenomenon, or the "thing-as-it-is-to-me" rather than the "thing-as-it-is."); an object of thought. For Kant noumena or "things-in-themselves" are realities transcending all possible thought and experience.  Since the Categories of thought do not apply to things-in-themselves but only "things-for us" or phenomena, knowledge is possible only of these phenomena.

NOUS - Greek for mind (nouV). For the pre-Socratics the term meant knowledge and reason. For Plato the term meant " the rational part of the soul." For Aristotle it meant intellect. Variously, mind, reason, spirit, intellect. Sometimes informally as creative inspiration.

OBJECTIVE - That which relates to objects in reality that are supposedly the same for all experiences.

OBJECTIVE IDEALISM: Objective idealism is the view that all reality is composed of ideas, and these ideas exist independently of any mind. An example of this type of metaphysical theory of objective idealism is that of Plato's theories of Being and Becoming and the Ideal Forms. Plato held that the material, phenomenal world (the world of appearances) is in a state of flux attempting to emulate (unsuccessfully) the Ideal Forms (the noumenal world of reality). The Forms exist independently of the consciousness. The noumenal world is the true permanent world of reality.  The Forms, which are ideas, are not in any mind, not human nor God's, but exist independently of any subjective viewpoint.

OBJECTIVE TRUTH: Objective truths are true regardless of what anyone thinks.  Example: The earth revolves around the sun.  This was true, a believer in objective truth would say, long before anyone thought so (the earth being long uninhabited) and even despite everyone thinking otherwise for a long time (prior to Copernicus, for millennia, virtually everyone thought the sun revolved around the earth).

OBJECTIVE: Pertaining to things independent of or external to thought and experience.  Contrast: subjective.

OBSCENITY:  Artistic expression which appeals solely to prurient interests and is without redeeming artistic merit or social importance.  (As defined under U. S. law.)

OBSERVATION: Determination of particular fact based on the evidence of the senses, i.e., by way of perception.

OCCAM'S RAZOR: A principle attributed to the fourteenth century English philosopher William of Occam that states that entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. Similarly, one should choose the simplest of otherwise equally warranted (e.g., empirically supported) theories; the one requiring the fewest assumptions and principles. A philosophical principle traditionally attributed to William of Ockham (1285-1349) applied in areas of philosophy and science. Literally, the principle states that "Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity." Simply put, " All things being equal, the simplest explanation is the best one. "

OLIGARCHY: Rule by the rich.  Compare: aristocracy.  Contrast: democracy.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT - A very complex rationalistic argument for the existence of God formulated by the medieval theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm (1033-1109). For Anselm, God is simply "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." Thus, the notion of God existing as such is greater than the notion of His non-existence. Therefore, he must necessarily exist. Simply stated in its traditional sense, the argument is set forth as follows (Geisler/Feinberg, Intro to Philosophy):
Premise 1: God is by definition the most perfect Being conceivable.
Premise 2: The most perfect Being conceivable cannot lack anything.
Premise 3: But if God did not exist, He would lack existence.
Conclusion: Therefore, God must exist.
Although there have been other formulations of the argument, this form of the argument was rejected by Thomas Aquinas, Hume, and Kant. Although on the face of it, the argument seems to be quite circular, it is interesting to see that leading philosophers continue to ponder this idea that God must necessarily exist.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT - The classic argument for the existence of God by demonstrating that the denial of the proposition "God exists," is self-contradictory; The argument that the essence of God demands his existence; The argument for the existence of God based on the aprehension and understanding of what exists.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT: Any argument that aims to prove that God exists a priori; arguing that necessarily, "God exists" is true given what we mean by "God", or that the Divine idea, or concept, or nature, or essence includes - and hence guarantees - God's existence. Descartes version of the argument goes roughly so: God is by definition, a perfect being; it's better to exist than not to exist; therefore, necessarily, God exists.

ONTOLOGY - Ontology is that branch of philosophy that is concerned with the study of Being (existence) itself. see Being. The branch of philosophy which deals with the existence of things, with what it is to exist and with what fundamental kinds of things exist.

ONTOLOGY: the study of being as being.

OPEN THEISM:  A controversial theological interpretive position among conservative evangelical Christians concerning whether or not God changes his mind after making prophetic utterances about the future.  Did God, for example, change his mind after telling the prophet Jonah that Nineveh would be destroyed?  Open Theists believe God can "change his mind" and still be considered all-knowing.  Evangelical critics argue that such a position compromises God's inerrancy and thus the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

ORDAINED, ORDINATION A formal process of designating and consecrating individuals to the ministry or priesthood, especially that of Christianity. Ordination generally comes from a church body and is given to church members who have been confirmed as having received God's call from both within and without the church community. More formal ecclesiastical organizations also require extensive theological and pastoral education prior to ordination. Many Christian churches ordain deacons as well as priests or ministers. In most Christian churches, a service of ordination is a formal part of the liturgy when the ordination of an individual is publicly affirmed and proclaimed.

ORTHODOX, ORTHODOXY:  A broadly used term that denotes clear doctrine or belief according to a particular religion or philosophy and implies conformity or correctness in regard to doctrinal or dogmatic statements as opposed to heresy or heterodox beliefs.  The term is rooted in the Greek words for straight (ortho-) opinion (doxein).  When capitalized, the term refers to any of several branches of the Eastern churches of Christianity, e.g., Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc.

OTHER MINDS PROBLEM: The problem of how we know that there are minds other than our own on the assumption that mental life consists, essentially, of private conscious experiences directly accessible only to oneself.

OUSIA:  the this; what a thing is; whatness, what it was to be; substance BUT best called essence (fem. past part. of ti en einai [to be, in classical Greek], in the imperative).

PAGAN: Derived from the Latin term for an outside person, literally, a country or rural person rather than a person of the city. In Christian Rome, pagans were often thought of as irreligious followers of many gods or as given over to sensual pleasures. Used in a religious context to apply to persons outside a particular faith, especially Christianity, much as a synonym for HEATHEN. The modern religion known as NEO-PAGANISM has adopted the label as a badge of faith in a varied form of god and worship.

PANENTHEISM - A worldview which essentially asserts that "all is in God" ; thus, just as a soul is related to the body, so too, God is related to the world - the soul fills the body as God fills the world. Perhaps the Stoic saying puts it best: "All are but parts of one stupendous whole; whose body Nature is, and God the soul." (Chrysippus). The world view that everything exists in God, but God is somehow greater than the totality of reality; that God relates to the world as a hand relates to a glove, or as a soul relates to a body. Contemporary panentheism is promoted by process theology.

PANPSYCHISM - (1) The view that all of reality consists purely of mind (immaterial, spirit) with various levels of consciousness. (2) Sometimes, that reality is composed of living atoms.

PANTHEISM: The belief that God and the universe are identical; among modern philosophers, Spinoza is considered to be a pantheist.  Among the ancients the Stoics were the most notable exponents of pantheism.  According to Stoicism, the material universe is the Body of God, and the God's spirit or soul is the Mind (or logos) guiding and governing this universal body.  In effect, universal Body and indwelling Mind together comprise the divine Person.

PANTHEIST:  Literally, a worshiper of all gods or of the god in all things.  Pantheism refers to the believe that all is God and God is in all, making God and the universe co-existent.  By extention, one who believes this is a pantheist.

PARADIGM, PARADIGM SHIFT - From the Greek word paradhma (paradigma), the term paradigm was introduced into science and philosophy by Thomas Kuhn in his landmark book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Essentially, a paradigm is simply the predominant worldview in the realm of human thought. For instance, today we would say that we live within an evolutionary paradigm since evolution is the predominant worldview regarding origins. As a paradigm, evolution replaced creation as the explanation for the origin of the universe. A paradigm shift occurs when cultures transform their way of thinking from one thought system to another. For instance, prior to Copernicus and Galileo (ca. 1600), most people believed that astral bodies revolved around the earth ( geocentrism); but after the Copernican Revolution (ca. 1600), it became obvious that the earth revolved around the sun ( heliocentrism) - thus, a major paradigm shift occurred from geocentrism to heliocentrism.
We find another example in the oceanic voyages of Columbus and Magellan. Prior to the voyages of these two famous navigators, most people believed that the earth was flat; but after the voyages of Columbus and Magellan, it became obvious that the earth was spherical. Thus, the pre-1492 paradigm (that the earth was flat) shifted to a post-1492 paradigm (which posited a spherical earth). Simply put, then, a paradigm shift is a pivotal change in humanity's way of thinking regarding a particular worldview.

PARTICULAR:  individual things are particulars.

PARTICULARS: Individual existents (e.g., Ben Franklin): as opposed to kinds (e.g., inventor) or attributes (e.g., inventiveness), which are universals.

PASCAL'S WAGER - Blaise Pascal (1623-62) was a famous French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher who truly sought to understand the meaning of his existence in this vast universe. Like any man of intellect, Pascal struggled with the concept of God's existence, saying, "I see too much to deny God, yet too little to be sure. " Essentially, what he meant was that he saw the evidence of God's existence in the glory of creation, yet at the same time he perceived certain difficulties as well, such as the problem of evil. After years of contemplation, however, Pascal decided to become a Christian and follow the path of the Savior. His philosophical work, Pensees (Lit. "thoughts"), is one of the classic spiritual writings of all time. Anyway, for those suspended in agnosticism, Pascal devised the following formula, called Pascal's Wager, because ultimately it demands that one gamble (wager) his existence on one of the following propositions:
1. If God does not exist, and I believe that He exists >>> I lose nothing. CHRISTIAN
2. If God does not exist, and I don't believe that He exists >>> I lose nothing. ATHEIST
3. If God exists, and I believe that He exists >>> I gain everything. CHRISTIAN
4. If God exists, and I don't believe that He exists >>> I lose everything. ATHEIST
Essentially, Pascal is asking the reader, "Within the context of eternity, which is the safest of the following propositions?" The only winning position is #3.

PENTECOSTALISM:   A form of Christianity often associated with enthusiastic and highly emotional religious practices said to represent the movement of the Holy Spirit upon a person, especially those practices marked by speaking in tongues.  Christian denominations marked by these practices are sometimes organized or labelled as Pentecostal denominations, taking their name from the Biblical day of Pentecost when the Spirit descended upon the followers of Christ.

PERCEIVE: To detect or become aware of via the outward senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, and also (according to the usage of some) via "reflection" (Locke) or introspection.

PERCEPTION - The process of understanding or viewing the world through the senses. Sometimes used informally of any process of investigation that gives one enough evidence to organize and/or make conclusions about the object (material or immaterial) that is the object of investigation; i.e., "I perceive [by evaluating your logical arguments] that you are a foolish man"]. Awareness of the objects of our experience.

PERFORMATIVES: Sentences (or utterances) that serve more to do (than describe) something. Typically, these sentences are in the first person present noncontinuous, with a main verb that indicates a speech action. e.g. “I promise to come to your party” as opposed to the non-performative (or descriptive) “he promises...,” or “I kick him.” Performatives are important because they make us realize that many declarative sentences are not so much true or false as they are actions which are well or badly done (orders, appointments, christenings, exorcisms, rulings, sentences, etc.)

PERIPATETIC - In the Greek, the word "peripatetic" means "walking with." This was the method of teaching that Aristotle used - i.e., "walking with" his students in the gardens as he taught them and they questioned him. Hence, the term "peripatetic" is used to describe the followers of Aristotle.

PERSON - A self-conscious and self-determining being (whether material or immaterial). A person's existence may not be self-determined, but as an existent person, that person is self-determining.

PHENOMENA, PHENOMENAL REALM - In the thought of Kant, the phenomenal realm is the world of matter - i.e. the world which we can experience through our senses. It is thus distinguished with the noumenal realm. see noumena, noumenal realm.

PHENOMENALISM. Phenomena is that which appears. The phenomenalist says that substance and causality are no more than bundles of perception. Therefore there is no rational knowledge beyond what is disclosed by the phenomena of perceptions. Mind is no more than a bundle of perceptions.

PHENOMENOLOGY: (Husserl) Begins with a precise inspection of one’s own consciousness, and particularly intellectual, processes. In this introspection all assumptions about the wider and external causes and consequences of these internal processes have to be excluded or bracketed. Husserl insisted that this was an a priori investigation of the essences or meanings common to the thoughts of different minds. A philosophic movement that originated around the turn of the century on the Continent (see Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations for example). This movement - like Russell, G. E. Moore, and the analytic movement generally - insisted on divorcing philosophy from (empirical) psychology, thus avoiding something labeled psychologism. The phenomenologists insisted that philosophers could directly study the pure phenomenon of thought (intensional objects) by a bracketing technique which avoided any commitments about empirical psychology.

PHENOMENON - An object of sense experience; that which one experiences, even if one's experience is inaccurate (see noumenon). For Kant, phenomena are "things for us" - things-as-thought-and-experienced.  Phenomena contrast with noumena - the "things in themselves" - which transcend our thought and conception.

PHENOMINALISM: The view that immediate experience (sensations, thoughts, etx.) is all there might be to reality. B. Russell for example, often took the phenominalist view that talk about the “external” world of objects is more properly understood as talk about a series of experiences or potentialities of experience.

PHILOSOPHER KINGS - In Plato's Republic, he speculated that the ideal form of government would be ruled by a fusion of wisdom ( philosophers) and power ( military strength) - thus, the idea of philosopher kings. He wrote, "Unless philosophers rule as kings . . . or those who are now called kings and princes become genuine and adequate philosophers . . . there will be no respite from evil for humanity."

PHILOSOPHY: ( philo = love; sophia = widsom) Literally "love of wisdom": the discipline that contemplates and seeks to critically illumine the ultimate grounds of being, knowledge, and value.

PHYSICALISM see materialism

PLATONISM: Agreement with the views of Plato, especially with his assertion of the real existence of the "ideas" or "Forms".  See realism (Platonic).

PLEASURE PRINCIPLE: (What Bentham called the principle of utility) an action is right if and only if the action produces a greater balance of pleasure over pain, or at least as much pleasure as pain, than any other action the agent could have performed. Pleasure is the principle of right action.

PLURALISM - The idea that reality is not reducible to one or two ultimate substances or principles; contrary to dualism and monism. The theory that reality is composed or can be explained in terms of two or more fundamental (types of) substance, energy, or force.  In the modern era Cartesian dualism represents the most notable pluralist hypothesis.  Among the ancients, the pluralism of Pythagorus and Democritus is usually contrasted to the monism of the Milesians (Thales, Anaximenes, Anaximander) and Eleatics (Parmenides, Miletus, Zeno).

PLURALIST: one who believes that there is more than one basic stuff, or many substances in the universe, from which everything is composed.

POLYTHEISM:  the view that there are many gods

POSITIVISM - Generally, the view that philosophy and science are one, exhaust genuine knowledge, and provide the only available key to rational social action. Varieties of positivism flourished on the Continent during the nineteenth century, some stressing political activity. The Vienna Circle (1920’s) consisted of physicists, philosophers, and logicians, and propounded a logical positivism, or logical empiricism (which see). Carnap, among others, came from this group.

POSSIBLE: What might be the case, as opposed to what's necessary (what must be the case) and what's actual (what really is the case).

POTENCY: means the source of movement or change, which is in another thing than the thing moved. (also potentiality- in contrast to actuality- the domain of actual facts, or the achievement of a things' full potential.)

PRACTICAL used to refer to the aspect of philosophy which deals with the question of how we should act. Moral and political philosophy are the principal forms of practical philosophy. Contrasts with theoretical.

PRAGMATIC THEORY OF TRUTH:  true statements have "cash value" or work.

PRAGMATICS: The characterization, for a natural or artificial, language or relationships between sentences, the world, and the situation of speaker and hearer. Pragmatics is particularly concerned with indexical words such as “I,” “Here,” “That,” “She,” “Now,” which are sensitive to the context of utterance or statement.

PRAGMATISM - A distinctly American philosophical movement founded by Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914) and expounded upon by William James (1842-1910) and John Dewey (1859-1952). Essentially, pragmatism asserts that truth is to be determined by its practical implications. In other words, if a certain proposition, etc. has practical meaning or produces practical results, then the proposition is determined to be true. The weakness of pragmatism was quickly uncovered and attacked by the British atheist Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) who asserted that pragmatism was tantamount to "blind obscurantism." The idea that philosophical truth (usually ethics, sometimes aesthetics) is determined by the practical outcome or result of ideas.

PREDICATE LOGIC: A logic that includes the simpler propositional logic plus individual variables (x, y, z, etc.), individual constants ( a, b, c, etc. - these are the same as proper names), predicate variables (P, Q, R, S, etc) these range over monadic, or “one-place”, predicates like “is red”, “jumps,” etc., dyadic, or “two-place”, predicates like “is the sister of,” “is the square root of,” and so on with three, four, etc. place predicates, and the universal and existential quantifiers. For example, (x) [Px] means “For every x, Px” or “For every x, P is true of X” (note that “(x)” means “for every x....”-this is the universal quantifier. similarly, (x) [Px Qx] means “For every x, if Px, then Qx” or “All Ps are Qs.” The existential quantifier - Ex - means “For some x”, as for example Ex [Px] means “For some x, Px” or “There exists an x such that P is true of it.” Predicate logic is often developed with the additional of a relational constant, identity (=). Predicate logic is a first order logic in that there is quantification over individuals but not over predicates.

PREDICATION: the attribution of a property to a subject.

PREESTABLISHED HARMONY: This solution, to the mind-body problem, was proposed by the German philosopher, Leibniz and is also called parallelism (or parallel functioning). Leibniz wrote Monadology and Discourse on Metaphysics (to name only 2). Mind and body do not interact. God has established an harmony between mind and body. Mental states and bodily states correspond at every moment due to this preestablished harmony.

PREMISE: a statement that provides reasons, grounds, or supports the conclusion to follow. Statement asserted in support of the conclusion of an argument.

PRESCRIPTIVISM: The view, in ethics that all ethical arguments tactly involve an appeal to some prescriptive premise. Hence, so it is clailmed, any moral judgment includes some element of “telling someone how they should act”. E.g., to say that something is good is not to describe it but to commend it (to someone).

PRESOCRATICS - Simply, those Greek philosophers who preceded Socrates. Although none of their works have survived through scribal transmission, some of their writings can be reconstructed, and their philosophical positions can be inferred from later philosophers (e.g. Plato, the Stoics) who quoted them and wrote extensively about their musings. The greatest achievement of the pre-Socratic philosophers is that they challenged the existing Greek polytheistic system, and their ideas eventually led to the collapse of the Olympian pantheon. see Milesian school.

PRESUPPOSITION - Initial assumptions upon which all thought is based. Presuppositions are often difficult to observe or prove because they stand prior to proof and become the standard by which other ideas or arguments are tested. A presupposition may be fundamental to all inquiry ("I exist") or simply agreed upon by the parties to a discussion without prior proof ("For the purposes of this debate, let us assume . . . . "). Simply, "an assumption."

PRIMA FACIE: (LT: at first sight) Prima facie evidence is such that, if not latter contradicted or in some way explained, is sufficient to sustain one's claim.

PRIMARY QUALITIES: are about the primary qualities of an object, and are about qualities of matter such as form, extension, motion, number, and so on. Therefore, primary qualities are objective in nature.

PRIMARY QUALITIES: Qualities such as shape, extension, duration, etc. which are perceived by several senses and which are thought to be more or less as much a part of the world as of our perception of it. As opposed to secondary qualities such as color, texture, pitch, odor, etx. which are perceived by particular senses and which are though (by people making the distinction) to correspond to anything outside sensation, being an essentially subjective reaction.

PRINCIPLE (LAW) OF (NON)CONTRADICTION: Dating back to Aristotle, this basic logical principle or "law of thought" holds that a statement cannot simultaneously be both true and false or that nothing can at once both have an attribute, like redness, and lack it.

PRINCIPLE OF) INDUCTION: the behavior of things in the future will be like the behavior of things in the past (most likely).

PRIVATE LANGUAGE ARGUMENT, THE: Descartes’ arguments (see Cartesian Doubt) eventually led many philosophers (especially Logical empiricists) to adopt phenomenalism and solipsism. Wittgenstein argued (against this) that such a view amounts to a belief in an essentially-private language (the language in which the phenominalist-solipsism philosopher states what he know, that is, the contents of his purely private experience). And Wittenstein argues that a purely private language is really impossible (language is essentially objectual and social in nature.)

PRIVATION: if something has not one of the attributes which a thing might naturally have, even if this thing itself would not naturally have it; e.g. a plant is said to be 'deprived' of eyes.

PROBABILITY - A term used specifically in inductive logic; the truth of propositions must be expressed in degrees of probability.

PROLETARIAN: A worker or wage laborer under capitalism.  Contrast: bourgeois.  See: communism.

PROPER NAMES: The view that proper names simply stand for, or denote, individuals without describing them in any way by philosophers such as J. S. Mill, Russell, and S. Kripke. The contrary view is that proper names are equivalent to (or have the same meqaning as ) a definite description or a cluster of definite descriptions: il.e. that “Aristotle was a student of Plato” is equivalent to “The teacher of Alexander was a student of Plato”, or in the cluster version “The individual who was most of the following - teacher of Alexander, born in Stagira, wrote the Metaphysics, etc., was a student of Plato”. Proper names, as understood in Mill or Russell’s manner are sometimes also called “logically proper names” or “rigid designators.”

PROPERTY - In J. P. Moreland, "an entity; redness, hardness, wisdom, triangularity, or painfulness. A property has at least four characteristics which distinguish it from a substance" . . . . A property is universal, immutable, can be had by more than one object, and does not have causal power ( Scaling the Secular City, 79).

PROPHET, PROPHETS:  One who speaks for God.  Popularly, the word has come to mean one able to foretell future events, but this traditionally has not been the role of the prophet; rather, the prophet has been one who speaks the divine words calling the faithful to repentance and righteousness.  More specifically (and when capitalized), the term refers to those who speak for the God of Jews and Christians in the Scriptures, especially of the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament.

PROPOSITION - That which is affirmed or denied by a statement; the separate statements that together form a deductive syllogism (argument form). A proposition is something that you could hold, or believe, or put forward as a claim. It's capable of being true or false. It's expressed in language by a complete sentence. A concept is usually expressed in language by a noun phrase, not by a sentence. So, we have "the concept of electricity," and "The proposition that Socrates was a philosopher."

PROPOSITIONAL LOGIC: Also called sentence logic and the sentential calculus. Such a logic concerns elementary propositions - p, q, r, s, etc. - respecting which the only assumption is that they should individually be either true or false, and operators that form complex propositons when joined with appropriate numbers of elementary propositons. The operators include conjunction (&) hence ’p and q’; disjunction (v), hence ’p or q’; negation (-), hence ’-p’; conditional (-> ), hence ’If p then q’; and equivalence ( =), hence ’p is equivalent to q’. This logic is concerned with determining which complex propositions are logical truths, or tautologies; this effectively determines what are valid arguments because such can always be treated as complex propositions in which the premisses of the argument appear as the antecedent and the conclusion as the consequence. This logic, as opposed to first, or higher, order predicate logic is complete and decidable.

PROSELYTIZE:  A term to describe the process of trying to convince and initiate another into one's faith; to seek converts to one's religious beliefs.  This is a back formation from the Latin and Greek term used to describe an alien resident of a country or culture and by extension one who is taught or influenced into adopting the practices and beliefs of the surrounding culture or nation.

PROTESTANT REFORMATION See Reformation. See also COUNTER-REFORMATION:   A period of the 16th century during which great changes were demanded in the Christian Church that was overseen from Rome.  Led by church thinkers and leaders such as Martin Luther in Germany, John Calvin in Switzerland, and others in Europe and later in England, a movement that demanded changes in doctrine and practice that led to new churches made up of the protesters or "protestants."  The changes resulted in Christian churches that became known as Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, Anglican, Anabaptist and others who challenged the hierarchy, doctrine and sacramental leadership of the church at Rome.

PROTESTANT, PROTESTANTISM:  A movement of church leaders who resisted or protested the leadership and doctrine of the church in Rome and developed denominations independent of the papal authority located in Italy.

PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM: (1) the thesis that all individuals do in fact seek their own interests at all times. There is no purely unselfish act. (2) The theory that all human actions are consciously or unconsciously motivated by a desire for one's own well-being and satisfactions; it only appears that one acts for the benefit of others.

PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM: In ethics and psychology, the view that in fact all human beings act solely in their individual self-interest (so far as they calculate correctly as to what this is). This view - particularly in the ethical tradition established by Hobbes - is often combined, or confused, with the view, which is labeled “ethical egoism” that all human being ought (whether they do or don’t) each to act in their individual self-interest.

QUAKER, QUAKERS: The informal but acceptable name applied to the RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS. An Englishman, George Fox, claimed a religious experience in th 1640s that led him to the "Inner Light" and began a movement that objected to the accepted Anglican emphasis on ritual liturgy. In an English court, Fox was dubbed a "quaker" because of his agitation. Quakers meet weekly but recognize no rank of clergy.